Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif ordered the nation to lift a ban on Wikipedia after blocking access to the site over the weekend for "sacrilegious content." File Photo by Salvatore Di Nolfi/EPA-EFE
Feb. 7 (UPI) -- The Pakistani government ended a ban on Wikipedia after blocking access to the website over the weekend for alleged blasphemous content.
"Prime Minister [Shehbaz Sharif] has directed that the Wikipedia website be restored with immediate effect," said Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb on Twitter Monday. "The prime minister has also constituted a cabinet committee on matters related to Wikipedia and other online content."
Pakistan said it blocked Wikipedia because it failed to remove "sacrilegious content" yet it was not clear what content it found objectionable. The country's officials issued a warning last week before banning the site.
A statement from the Pakistani prime minister's office, posted by Aurangzeb, said the decision to retract the ban by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority was not beneficial.
"Blocking the site in its entirety was not a suitable measure to restrict access to some objectionable contents/sacrilegious matter on it," the statement said. "The unintended consequences of this blanket ban, therefore, outweigh its benefits."
The Wikipedia Foundation praised the decision to remove the restrictions.
"The people of Pakistan rely on Wikipedia both as a knowledge resource and as a pathway to share their knowledge with others," the foundation said in a statement. "They make Wikimedia projects richer and more representative of the world with their culture, history and perspectives.
"Lifting this ban means that the people of Pakistan can continue to benefit from and participate in its growth within a global movement that strives to spread and share knowledge that is verified, reliable and free. The Wikimedia Foundation believes that knowledge is a human right. We welcome the support of governments everywhere in upholding it."