Pakistan Sunday blocked Twitter in response to the microblogging website's inability to remove blasphemous content posted by its users.
Citing a senior government official, Reuters reported that the authorities had held discussions with Twitter asking them to remove the objectionable content, but the site refused to do so.
This has been done under the directions of the Ministry of Information Technology. It's because of blasphemous content, said Mohammed Yaseen, chairman of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, Reuters reported.
We have been negotiating with them until last night, but they did not agree to remove the stuff, so we had to block it, added Yaseen, according to the newspaper Dawn.
The authorities have instructed all ISPs in their areas to block access to the website at the URL level and to monitor such material in other websites and block the links immediately.
The authorities didn't give details about the blasphemous content. But it is assumed that a post promoting a competition on Facebook to post images of the Prophet Muhammad, which was promoted through Twitter, has prompted the ban. Many Muslims consider any kind of representation of the Prophet un-Islamic and blasphemous.
According to the authorities, Facebook agreed to look into the matter and block the page in Pakistan, but they failed to convince Twitter to remove it.
According to local media reports, the ban could be reviewed after resolving the issue with Twitter, and negotiations are in progress.
Pakistan blocked more than 1,000 websites, including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, for two weeks in May 2010, alleging them of allowing blasphemous content.
However, according to an Express Tribune report, Twitter currently is still accessible by means of mobile phones and secure browsers such as Opera Mini. Users also can access it through proxies.
Here are some reactions to the ban on Twitter in Pakistan.
Abdul Bugti Baloch @Abdul_Bugti said #Twitter Ban is a screaming proof of #Pakistan being afraid of raising voice from religious & ethnic minorities persecuted by the state.
Ed Husain @Ed_Husain Twitter banned in #Pakistan ('blasphemy' allegations). A sure recipe for more people to join Twitter. Bans don't stop 'blasphemy'.
Atif S Ahmad @atifahmads-The terrorist #Mullah Cult can roam and operate freely in #Pakistan while social media is banned and targeted!.
JK @KnightWilliams- Twitter banned across #Pakistan. Here I am accessing it from Islamabad. Take that, you forces of medieval ages!@Rav1no.
Bilal Ahmed @bilalahmed2k-After their mighty success in #LoadShedding #PPP is nw proud 2 present #Tweet Shedding in #Pakistan well done #TEAMGILLANI.