Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has said the government would reopen video-sharing website YouTube after completion of work on a filtration mechanism.
The ban was imposed after a video known as “Innocence of Muslims”, which ridiculed the Prophet Muhammad, appeared on YouTube. It was the subject of anti-US protests in Egypt, Libya and Yemen, one of which led to the death of the US ambassador to Libya.
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) directed internet service providers and mobile phone firms to unblock YouTube on Dec 29 but within an hour the prime minister re-imposed the ban because the anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims” had not been removed.
The premier while addressing SAFMA delegates at the Governor’s House on Tuesday said, “We believe in access to free information. The only reason not to unblock YouTube is the presence of blasphemous material on it. We will open it as soon as we have a filtration mechanism.”
Ashraf said there should be no visa restriction for media people because they bring the people closer and know how to connect people. He said Pakistan attached importance to SAARC and was committed to its principles and objectives.
Pakistan, he said, supported liberalisation of SAARC trade within the region and looked forward to increasing bilateral and multilateral trade with member countries.
He noted, “We have peculiar challenges which can be tackled effectively by developing home-grown solutions. It is in this context that diversity among the member countries needed to be employed to accelerate the process of development through greater connectivity. South Asia can do well to learn from the best global practices and apply them to the regional context.”
He added, “The collective wellbeing of people of South Asia cannot be left at the mercy of any one country. We need to resolve all political and economic issues with an open mind and sincerity of purpose.”
He said that conflict over disputes must give way to reconciliation, connectivity, openness and regional cooperation.