YouTube has announced the launch of a local Urdu-language version for Pakistan, similar to localised sites for Nepal and Sri Lanka. Users in the country would be directed to youtube.com.pk that displays videos trending locally.
The video-sharing site run by Google has been banned in Pakistan since 2012. Even after the launch of the new site, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) maintained that YouTube remains blocked in the country, the Pakistani daily Dawn reported. It also said it was unaware of the launch of the new site.
The ban came into effect after YouTube did not comply with Pakistan's request to take down the film Innocence of Muslims depicting Prophet Muhammed. The Supreme Court in Pakistan then ruled that the site should be banned until a way was found to block all "blasphemous" content. In February 2015, a government official said the site could remain blocked "indefinitely" because experts had failed to find a way to filter content deemed offensive and blasphemous.
Before banning YouTube, Pakistan also shut down Facebook for two weeks in 2010, saying the social media website contained what Pakistani authorities alleged was blasphemous content.
"With these launches, we hope to pave the way for the work of more local creators, personalities and musicians to shine on the world's largest and most vibrant video community. To all our YouTube viewers and creators from South Asia and around the world, we can't wait to see what you share," Goutam Anand, YouTube. director of Operations and Content, YouTube Asia Pacific, said in a blog post.
As it launched the new site for Pakistan, YouTube said it would continue to track government requests to remove content.