Wikipedia, the popular and free online encyclopedia, has asked Pakistan to restore access to its service in the country, saying that it does not make decisions around what content is included on its platform. This comes after the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) banned Wikipedia in the country for not taking down "sacreligious content".
In a post on Twitter, Wikimedia Foundation, the charity that runs Wikipedia, confirmed the suspension, saying that other Wikimedia projects in the country were also banned.
The foundation called on Pakistan "to restore access to Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects in the country immediately".
It said that in Pakistan, English Wikipedia receives more than 50 million pageviews per month, followed by Urdu and Russian Wikipedias.
"There is also a sizable and engaged community of editors in Pakistan that contribute historical and educational content.
A block of Wikipedia in Pakistan denies the fifth most populous nation in the world access to the largest free knowledge repository. If it continues, it will also deprive everyone access to Pakistan’s knowledge, history, and culture," it said.
The foundation further said that it hopes that the Pakistan government restores access to Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects promptly, "so that the people of Pakistan can continue to receive and share knowledge with the world".
Earlier this week, the PTA degraded Wikipedia services in the country "on account of not blocking/removing sacrilegious content", without specifying what the content was.
The authority stated that Wikipedia was approached for blocking the content by issuing a notice under applicable law and court order(s).
An opportunity of hearing was also provided, it said, but the platform neither took down the content nor appeared before the Authority.
The restoration of the services of Wikipedia will be reconsidered subject to the content being deleted, PTA said.