ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Telecommunication Authority on Saturday approached the Supreme Court against the ban on YouTube.It stated that as the YouTube local version has been launched they have blocked the offending material from YouTube.pk website and there is no need to keep the YouTube IP blocked anymore. “Hence, YouTube.pk website may now be accessed by interest users in Pakistan (and) moreover, as per ongoing process, PTA shall keep monitoring the online content on the best effort basis,” the reply stated. YouTube has remained blocked in Pakistan since September 17, 2012, a move made by Islamabad after blasphemous content from its platform was not removed in compliance with the Supreme Court order that compelled PTA chairman to immediately block the offending material on YouTube and or any other website.
The PTA stated it had compiled the order and blocked hundreds of URLs containing offending materials i.e. the film Innocence of Muslims, adding at that time complete blocking of the said offending material from YouTube was not technically possible without blockage of YouTube. Therefore, in order to fully comply with the orders of the court, access to YouTube was blocked. The authority informed the court that nevertheless, Google Inc USA (who owns YouTube) has now launched country version of YouTube (localized) in Pakistan and has informed that as of January 12, 2016, YouTube.pk has been launched. It has also been confirmed by Google and subsequently verified by PTA that the country version of YouTube.pk website does not now contain any known copies of the said offending material.
The internet giant, on Tuesday, announced the launch of YouTube’s localised versions for Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, addressing Islamabad’s long-standing dispute regarding the availability of blasphemous content on the world’s largest social video sharing platform. The apex court on 17 September 2012 passed an order on a petition filed by “little known” Watan Party wherein lawyers Akram Sheikh and Taufiq Asif told the court about anti-Islamic film “Innocence of Muslims.” They stated that in Pakistan this film, which contains disrespectful material regarding the Holy Prophet, injurious to the feelings of every Muslim is still available on the website. Therefore, PTA has under legal obligation to control such matter but it has failed to perform its statutory duties, as such direction be issued to PTA to block the film on the website and refrain in future as well for allowing such material to be displayed, they held.Published in The Nation newspaper on 17-Jan-2016