Sunday morning Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) banned micro-blogging and social networking site twitter in Pakistan. The move was initiated in response to the ‘blasphemous’ content posted by some of the users. The ministry had been trying to convince the twitter to remove all such content which hurts the feelings of Muslims. A contest was started on twitter where the users were to draw caricatures of the Holy prophet (P.B.U.H). The contest became popular in a short period of time and had several entries. Though PTA blocked access to facebook, twitter and YouTube and almost 1,000 other websites over the same reason in may 2010. However, the ban lasted for about two weeks and all the sites were soon accessible again. However, this time the authorities lifted the ban in less than twenty four hours.
Any representation of the Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) is deemed un-Islamic and completely blasphemous by the majority of Muslims. PTA did not specify which particular content made them ban twitter. However, officials said that when twitter was contacted about the issue, they said “they cannot stop any individual doing anything of this nature on the website” twitter has become quite popular in Pakistan in the last three four years. A number of politicians, government officials, journalists and celebrities from Pakistan have joined twitter as they think of Twitter as a platform to discuss a great number of issues via Twitter which could not be done earlier.
However, interestingly just like the PTA ordered to ban access to the social network, in less than twenty four hours the ban was lifted. Early Sunday morning the Internet Service Providers Association of Pakistan and its members were asked to block Twitter indefinitely, but no reason was provided by the government. According to the sources; the federal interior minister told the ISPs to unblock twitter on the orders of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. Earlier the PTA officials said that the social site has been banned keeping the ‘emotion of the masses in mind’.
PTA chairman earlier said that he passed directives to the ISPs, which came from the Ministry of Information and Technology. However, according to the convener for all the ISPs of Pakistan Twitter was blocked directly from upstream links, without noticing the ISPs. Though Twitter is now accessible by all in Pakistan, throughout the day it could be accessed through mobile phones and secure browsers such as Opera Mini.
Whatever, was the real reason behind this brief ban is still indistinguishable; because if Twitter was banned keeping the feelings of masses in mind, it is kind of confusing how those feelings have changed in just one day and what made the Federal Minister and the Prime Minister take such prompt interest in the issue.