ISLAMABAD: The Cabinet Committee on Wikipedia, Thursday, reprimanded Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for blocking the website in the country and recommended prior consultation for closing any website in future.

Federal Minister for IT and Telecommunication Syed Aminul Haque chaired the Ministerial Committee meeting regarding the blockage of Wikipedia, here on Thursday.

Federal Minister for Law and Justice Azam Nazeer Tarar and Federal Minister for Commerce Syed Naveed Qamar attended the meeting.

Addressing the meeting, Haque said that the Ministry of IT and Telecom must be consulted prior to closing any website in future. Blocking of any website means disconnection to digital world which will lead to both social and economic disadvantages, he added.

The federal minister for IT said that the Ministry of IT and Telecom is against those steps which impede the development process. He emphasized the need of creating awareness among the masses for not visiting those websites containing objectionable content.

Federal Minister for Law and Justice Azam Nazeer Tarar said that Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) authorities can consult the Ministry of Law and Justice on directions getting from any side.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday ordered the restoration of access to Wikipedia with immediate effect.

Further, the prime minister constituted the Cabinet Committee comprising Minister for IT and Telecom (Chair), Minister for Law and Justice, Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Minister for Commerce, and Minister for Communications.

The committee may co-opt any expert members or seek an opinion from expert individuals/organisations to reach its findings. Terms of Reference of the Committee are as under: a) To review the suitability of PTA action of blocking of Wikipedia to restrict access to certain sacrilegious and objectionable content ;b) To explore and recommend alternative technical measures for removal or blocking access to objectionable content posted on Wikipedia and other online information sites, in view of our social cultural and religious sensitivities, on the touchstone of proportionality; and, c) To give any other recommendations with the objective of controlling unlawful online content in a balanced manner.

Federal Minister for Commerce Syed Naveed Qamar said that we endorse unblocking of Wikipedia on the directives of the prime minister.

Additional Secretary (Incharge) Ministry of IT and Telecommunication Mohsin Mushtaq, Member Legal, Member Telecom, and the PTA authorities were also present in the meeting.—TAHIR AMIN