According to local telecommunications authorities, Pakistan restored access to Twitter on May 21, only hours after blocking the site over posts concerning a contest involving caricatures of Mohammad, the founder of Islam. Mohammad Younis Khan, speaking for the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority, said "Twitter service has been restored." Thus ended a 12-hour hiatus in access to the popular website.
Khan said that PTA had been ordered by Pakistan’s ministry of information technology, but did not identify the reasons for the change. No word was forthcoming from the ministry.
Speaking earlier on May 21 before the ban was lifted, Khan said that "Facebook and Twitter were involved. We negotiated with both. Facebook has agreed to remove the stuff but Twitter is not responding to us." It was thus that the IT ministry had ordered Twitter to be blocked, he said. Twitter and Facebook were not reachable for comment.
On May 20, Khan gave the reasons for the ban, saying "The website has been banned by Ministry of Information Technology and the decision was conveyed to us. There was blasphemous material on Twitter." Khan blamed the “caricatures of Prophet Muhammad" for the shut-down.
Strict interpretations of Islam hold that the depiction of Mohammad is blasphemous. Reacting to a 2008 depiction of Mohammad in a Danish newspaper, Muslims engaged in angry protests worldwide and summoned non-Muslims to mosques for teach-ins about Islam. Following the publication of the objectionable cartoon, a suicide attack outside the Danish embassy in Pakistan killed eight people. Al-Qaeda claimed to be guilty of the the attack, saying it was to avenge the cartoons. Later, Pakistan blocked Facebook and YouTube in mid-2010 because of similar "blasphemous" content.