's telecommunications regulator
blocked the popular online encyclopedia
from its national service on Saturday after the content page missed a 48-hour deadline to remove "sacrilegious material" from its space.
"Wikipedia has been banned in Pakistan for not removing sacrilegious content from its website," Malahat Obaid, spokesperson for the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA), confirmed to EFE.
The PTA had demoted Wikipedia services across the country on Wednesday for failing to comply with directives for the removal of controversial content from its website.
However, "the decision may be reviewed once Wikipedia removes sacrilegious content from its website," the spokeswoman added today.
The PTA said in a statement Wednesday that it has contacted Wikipedia to ask it to remove material deemed blasphemous, issuing a notice in accordance with Pakistani law and court orders.
Muslims at the Grand Faisal Mosque in Islamabad.
An audience opportunity was also provided, however, the platform did not comply with removing the blasphemous content or appear before the Authority, it indicated in the letter that it does not specify details or examples of what content is considered offensive.
Pakistani authorities have tried on other occasions to force
Google and Wikipedia
to delete "sacrilegious" content against Islam, sometimes referring to allowing searches and content of the Ahmadi doctrine.
The Ahmadi sect is highly persecuted in Pakistan, a country where the Penal Code prohibits them from "posing as Muslims", calling their temples mosques or selling texts from their community.
Other platforms have been blocked in the past for content deemed immoral by conservative and Islamic Pakistan, including dating apps Tinder, Grindr, Tagged, Skout and SayHi.
Wikipedia is facing an access problem in some oriental countries.
In a statement, the Wikimedia Foundation, which runs Wikipedia, said the blockade "prevents the world's fifth most populous nation from accessing the largest free repository of knowledge."
"If it continues like this, it will also deprive the world of access to Pakistani knowledge, history and culture," he added.
For digital rights defender Usama Khilji, the Wikipedia blockade is the result of "a concerted effort to exercise greater control over Internet content."
"The main objective is to silence any dissent," he told AFP, noting that "profanity is often used for this purpose."
In the past, some pages of the encyclopedia had already been censored in Pakistan.
Social media giants Facebook in 2010 and YouTube between 2012 and 2016
were also blocked for the same reason.
Most recently, video-sharing platform TikTok was repeatedly blocked from broadcasting in the country for content deemed "indecent" and "immoral."
Thus, a debate on
free access to information and freedom of expression is revived.
Seven days with the robot that pretends to be a human and has an answer for everything
ChatGPT, the wonder that travels the world