Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has ordered the restoration of Wikipedia services in Pakistan after that Wikipedia unblocked in Pakistan and is now accessible again in the country, following a recommendation from a ministerial committee. Wikipedia is a widely used, free, editable online encyclopedia that serves as a primary source of information for millions of people globally.
On February 1st, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) degraded Wikipedia services in the country due to the presence of blasphemous content.
The regulator also issued a warning that in case of non-compliance, the platform would be blocked in Pakistan. The decision was carried out on February 3rd when Wikipedia was stopped for failing to remove the controversial content.
The Wikimedia Foundation called for the immediate restoration of access to Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects in Pakistan, stating that access to knowledge is a human right. Wikipedia is the world’s largest online encyclopedia and a trusted source of information for millions.
The Foundation stressed that the block denies the fifth most populous nation in the world access to a vast repository of free knowledge, and will also prevent access to Pakistan’s history, culture, and knowledge.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) deemed the ban as absurd and a lack of understanding of the role of social media in providing access to news and information. Amnesty International South Asia also called the ban an unjustifiable restriction on the right to freedom of expression and demanded an immediate and unconditional reversal.
The ban on Wikipedia was also criticized by various tech organizations, civil society groups, and academics who demanded a lifting of the restrictions.