Websites should not be blocked as that is neither ethical nor effective, said a leading Pakistani daily after a court directed that all websites spreading religious hatred should be barred.
The Lahore high court Monday asked the information technology ministry to block all websites "spreading religious hatred" on a petition that called for a ban on Facebook for hosting a competition of blasphemous caricatures.
An editorial in the Dawn Wednesday said: "Facebook, YouTube and several other websites were temporarily blocked last year for similar reasons, causing consternation among many of Pakistan's Internet users.
"Thankfully, the court said that Google and other search engines should not be blocked."
Though it was true that some sites may be "indulging in objectionable activities and deliberately attacking religious sensitivities, we feel blocking websites is not the way to deal with the issue. It is neither ethical, in view of the tenets of freedom of information, nor effective", the paper said.
The editorial suggested that the best way out is to "ignore offensive websites as bans of any sort only give controversial issues unnecessary publicity and set a precedent to justify future moves to curb the flow of information".
It went on to say that not giving access to social networking websites prevents access to valuable communication tools.
"In fact, the courts would be advised not to entertain such petitions at all," it added.
It cautioned that offensive material on the Internet "should not be used as an excuse for the government to control what information citizens can access".