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YouTube makes brief return to Pakistan after 3-month ban

The video-sharing site returns for anywhere between three minutes and three hours after being blocked for hosting a video that presented an unflattering depiction of the prophet Muhammad.

YouTube blocked by Pakistan CBS

YouTube made a brief reappearance in Pakistan yesterday after a three-month absence.

The video-sharing service, which was blocked by that country's government in September, was available to Internet users in Pakistan for somewhere between three minutes and three hours on Saturday, depending on which media outlet one believes. The ban on the site, which has been blocked since refusing to pull a clip that mocks the prophet Muhammad, was lifted then reinstated after it was found to still host "blasphemous" content.

YouTube was blocked in Pakistan on September 17 after the Middle East erupted in protests in reaction to "Innocence of Muslims," a video on YouTube that depicts the prophet Muhammad as a buffoon. Posted in July, the clip by Southern California filmmaker Nakoula Basseley Nakoula serves as a trailer for an upcoming movie.

The quick about-face appears to be the result of poor coordination inside Pakistan's government. Interior Minister Rehman Malik announced on Twitter that the unblocking of YouTube was imminent. However, after the ban was lifted, government officials soon learned that "Innocence of Muslims" was still hosted on YouTube, leading Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to order his country's Internet service providers to re-block the video-sharing site.

The country has previously sought to block access to YouTube videos, including a clip of a Dutch lawmaker in 2008. In 2010, it also sought a blanket ban on "objectionable content" surrounding a Facebook page called "Post Drawings of the Prophet Mohammad Day."