Pakistan blocked Wikipedia


February 1, 2023 - February 6, 2023
published by Maria Xynou on October 31, 2023

On 1st February 2023, Pakistan’s Telecommunication Authority (PTA) announced that they had degraded Wikipedia services in the country as a result of non-compliance by Wikipedia with their request to block or remove sacrilegious content. PTA specified that they would degrade Wikipedia services for 48 hours, noting that a block could follow if Wikimedia Foundation did not comply with the takedown requests.

On 3rd February 2023, Wikimedia Foundation published a statement notifying the public of PTA’s decision, stating that (as of that day) their internal traffic reports indicated that Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects were no longer available to users in Pakistan, urging PTA to restore access to their services. This statement was updated on 6th February 2023 with a notification that PTA had been directed to restore access to Wikipedia in Pakistan, and that this was confirmed by their internal traffic team.

Both the timing and nature of this reported block is corroborated by OONI data collected from Pakistan.


Chart: OONI Probe testing of Wikipedia ( on multiple networks in Pakistan between 1st January 2023 to 13th February 2023 (source: OONI MAT).

The above chart aggregates OONI measurement coverage from the testing of Wikipedia ( on multiple networks in Pakistan between 1st January 2023 to 13th February 2023. As is evident, we only observe anomalies between 1st to 6th February 2023, which correlates with the aforementioned period when access to Wikipedia was interfered with.

Between 1st to 6th February 2023, was tested on 5 ASNs in Pakistan, and presented anomalies on all networks, as illustrated below.


Chart: ASNs in Pakistan which received OONI Probe testing of between 1st January 2023 to 13th February 2023 (source: OONI MAT).

We observe that most testing was carried out on Pakistan Telecommunication Company (AS17557) – which is also the country’s largest ISP. Most measurements from that network presented anomalies between 1st to 6th February 2023, and we also observed anomalies when was tested on 4 other ASNs during this period. As all measurements (excluding measurements from failed experiments) from 7th February 2023 onwards were successful, OONI data suggests that access to Wikipedia was unblocked on 6th February 2023 (particularly since we started to observe many successful measurements that day).

By looking at the anomalous measurements, we observe that most measurements collected on 1st and 2nd February resulted in timeout errors, which is consistent with PTA’s announced 48-hour degradation of Wikipedia services. Between 3rd to 6th February 2023, we observed that most measurements resulted in connection reset errors suggesting that ISPs switched to blocking access to Wikipedia on 3rd February 2023 (which is what both PTA and Wikimedia Foundation announced).

Learn more through our research report.