January 25, 2018
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has expressed serious concern over the Pakistan government’s order to close down a radio station for its contents on January 19.
The IFJ demanded the order be immediately withdrawn to allow the radio to broadcast freely.
Pakistan’s Interior Ministry ordered the close down of the office and the operations of Radio Mashaal, a Pashto language broadcaster linked to the US-funded Radio Free Europe (RFE), on recommendations of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), according to a report. The ministry said that as per an ISI report, the radio airs programs ‘against the interests of Pakistan and in line with hostile intelligence agency's agenda’.
The notice sent to the radio stated that the programs aired include ‘portraying Pakistan as a hub of terrorism and safe haven for militant groups, propagating Pakistan as a failed state in terms of providing security to its minorities, presenting the Pashto-speaking minority as being disenchanted with the state, and distorting facts to incite people against state and its institutions’.
The Czech-based RFE first began Radio Mashaal services in FATA in 2010 as ‘an alternative to the growing number of extremist radio stations in the region’.
RFE denied any connection to the intelligence agencies of any country and said it was ‘extraordinarily concerned by the closure’.
RFE President Thomas Kent said: “Radio Mashaal is an essential source of reliable, balanced information for our Pakistani audience. We hope this situation will be resolved without delay. Our reporters are Pakistani citizens who are dedicated to their country and live and raise families in the villages in which they report."
The IFJ said: “The IFJ is seriously concerned by the decision of the Pakistan government to shut down operations of a radio station following allegations by a security agency over its contents and without giving the radio station a proper opportunity to defend itself. The order is against the principle of press freedom and the IFJ demands that the order be withdrawn immediately.” – IFJ media release
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