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Despite assurances no sign of lifting the ban on YouTube in Pakistan

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NEW DELHI: Even as the ban on YouTube in Pakistan is expected to continue with the government unrelenting, the Sindh High Court has issued notices to the information technology secretary, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) chairman and other concerned authorities. The notices are on a petition challenging the ban on video-sharing website.

The parties have been asked to file their replies by 12 August according to a Pakistani website.

The move was followed by a petition backed by several petitioners stating that PTA had blocked over 1000 websites since September 2012 under the guise of ‘blasphemous content’.

They submitted that a ban on the largest video portal on internet affecting badly the students, entrepreneurs, teachers, artists, religious scholars and all those who used the video website for commercial and professional aim.

It was stated in the petition that instead of blocking the specific URLs, PTA opted to block the whole platform depriving the citizens of their basic rights. The move isn’t unheard of because many Islamic countries have a system to block those blasphemous content or unwanted web pages on the internet.

The petitioner further stated that PTA planning to block even more pages in the future which would cause even more trouble for the people and they pleaded the court to stop PTA from doing this. The court was also requested to declare the censorship on websites including YouTube a deliberate violation of the fundamental rights as protected in the Constitution of Pakistan.

Earlier, the Lahore High Court had asked the Pakistan government to resolve the issue.  The Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid and Information Technology Minister Anusha Rehman even assured the court that the ban would be lifted soon, but this has not happened. An assurance that new software for blocking offensive videos would be acquired has also not been fulfilled.

This is despite the fact that several artists and media persons have been protesting against the ban for the past two years. 

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