YouTube Launches in Pakistan, Where It Is Banned

Google has launched a localized version of YouTube in Pakistan, where the site has been banned since 2012. The launch is seen as a positive step in lifting the blockade, put in place after the emergence of an American-made video that depicted the Prophet Mohammed in a negative light.

The new homepage, YouTube.com.pk, features local language and content, but is currently inaccessible inside Pakistan. That could change in a matter of weeks as the nation’s Supreme Court is set to decide whether Google can return. "We are in a very near-term sort of thing," a source told the AFP. "The roadblocks have been removed."

Lifting those roadblocks depended on whether Google agreed to comply with requests by Pakistan’s telecom authority to remove objectionable content. It appears it has, though a spokesperson said that each take-down request would go through a review process. "We have clear community guidelines, and when videos violate those rules, we remove them," the spokesman said.

YouTube was blocked in 2012 after it refused to remove a film called “Innocence of Muslims.” The video's depiction of the Prophet Mohammed triggered deadly protests in Pakistan. Since 2012, users in the country have turned to proxies in order to access the video streaming site.

YouTube on Tuesday also launched new home pages in Nepal and Sri Lanka as part of a larger initiative in the region. "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," said Gautam Anand, YouTube Asia Pacific’s director of operations and content, in a blog post.