Islamabad 07/05/2014: The National Assembly of Pakistan unanimously passed a resolution, calling upon the ruling Party to lift the ban on YouTube.
This resolution was tabled by Member National Assembly Ms Shazia Marri of the PPP (Pakistan Peoples Party). Ms Marri had tabled a resolution to lift the ban on YouTube on April 1, 2014, but it was not included in the day’s agenda. She was assured it would be added to the agenda on April 8, 2014, yet that too did not happen (more details here).
In a surprising turn of events, the National Assembly on Tuesday, May 6, 2014, unanimously passed her resolution to lift the ban on YouTube. Minister of State for Information Technology and Telecommunications, Ms Anusha Rahman Khan, though present at the assembly, was absent from the proceedings when the resolution was tabled and passed. Therefore, her colleague Ms Saira Afzal Tarar, Minister of State for Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, commented on the resolution, assuring the assembly that the government would lift the ban on YouTube soon. However, no timeline was specified.
YouTube was blocked in Pakistan in September 2012, in response to the “Innocence of Muslims” video uploaded to the video-sharing platform by a user. Today, no other Muslim country has the ban in place in reaction to the video. Last year, Afghanistan and Bangladesh accepted interstitial screens and lifted the ban. Pakistan was offered interstitials, but declined.
Bolo Bhi welcomes the resolution of the National Assembly. We congratulate Ms Marri, whose efforts have ensured the resolution sees light of day. We also thank all members of the assembly who supported her, previously and now. We hope the government will now move to lift the ban on YouTube.
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Bolo Bhi means ‘Speak up’, in Urdu. We are a not-for-profit registered under the Societies Act XXI of 1860. Bolo Bhi is geared towards gender rights, government transparency, internet access, digital security and privacy. We are a team of individuals with diverse backgrounds who are passionate about the same causes and believe it is crucial to bridge the gap between rights advocates, policy makers, media and citizens. It is by bridging this gap that one can move ahead to chart a way forward and resolve issues through consensus.