Showing posts with label Militant radio. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Militant radio. Show all posts

Short Bio of Radio Mullahs in North Western Pakistan

The Individuals, who rode airwaves in the North Western Pakistan used radio as an effective tool to get people support for their imposition of ''Sharia'' (Islamic Law) in Swat and Khyber Agency.  Here is the short bio of those:

Maulana Fazlullah started an illegal local FM channel in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa's Swat Valley in 2006. He preaches forcing vice and virtue and has an anti-Western Jihadi stance. He is considered pro-Taliban and a very powerful figure in the area. Though he considers most communication based electronics as "major sources of sin" he transmits broadcasts of his sermons on an illegal local FM radio channel, hence the nickname "Radio Mullah" or "Maulana Radio".
FM signals are relayed from mobile transmitters mounted on motorcycles and trucks. During nightly broadcasts, prohibited activities are routinely declared and violators' names announced for assassination, which often includes beheading.                                                                                                                        Maulana Fazlullah (born 1974) nicknamed the "Radio Mullah" or "Mullah Radio", is the leader of Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), a banned Pakistani Islamic fundamentalist militant group allied to the Pakistani Taliban, that aims to enforce Sharia in the country. He is sometimes referred to as "chief" of the Swat Taliban and is the son-in-law of the TNSM's founder, Sufi Muhammad. (Source

Mufti Munir Shakir (birthdate unknown) is a religious figure operating in northwestern Pakistan, and the founder of the militant group Lashkar-e-Islam. Shakir worked in Kurram Agency until 2004, when he was ejected by tribal elders following a mosque bombing.
Shakir's fame increased after he moved to Bara tehsil, Khyber Agency, where he established an FM pirate radio station. Using this vehicle, he began to promote his religious beliefs, based in Deobandi theology. Among his more controversial pronouncements was his alleged statement that opium is halal, provided it is produced and used for medical purposes.

Mengal Bagh is said to be a successor of Mufti Munir Shakir, When Shakir was ejected from Khyber Agency, he turned over his radio station to Bagh, a local driver, and Bagh then formed the militant group Lashkar-e-Islam.[3] Nowadays he is somewhere in the Vally of Tera. But members of LeI are still in Bara and areas of Khyber Agency. (Source

                                                                                                       In 2005, Pir Saifur Rahman, a supporter of the more moderate Barelvi school of Islam, established his own FM pirate radio station to compete with Shakir's station. Rivalry between the two clerics increased, causing tribal elders to denounce the two in December 2005 for fomenting sectarian tension. Both clerics then went into hiding, with Shakir handing control of his radio station and Lashkar-e-Islam organization to Mangal Bagh. The hostilities peaked around March 29, 2006, when "hundreds" of Shakir's followers gathered in the Badshahkili neighborhood of Bara tehsil to attack Rahman's followers. (Source

Ansar ul Islam (AI) was founded in June 2006 in the Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency by Qazi Mehboob-ul Haq who also belongs to Deobandi theology but had difference with Lashkar-e-Islam.  It was founded to counter the expansion of Lashkar-e-Islam who believes in strict implementation of Sharia.  Qazi Mehboob-ul-Haq used his pirate radio to counter the ideology of Lashkar-e- Islam and his radio is very famous in the Tirah Valley bordering Afghanistan. (Local Source)

Why Fighting Mullah Radio Is Not Easy

Published in Pakistan Express Tribune:                                        
Picture of the Radio Khyber Studio.

It was May 7, 2006 that, as a team, we started transmission of Radio Khyber. It was located within Khyber Agency, one among seven districts of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in the Northwestern part of the country. I started transmitting with a passion to empower local people and give them voices. Voices which had been kept silent since 1901, the day the colonial empire of India promulgated the Frontier Crime Regulation (FCR) in FATA. The FCR was designed by British, who used the region’s own tribal traditions and social psyche to rule ruthlessly over the territory. All of the sections of this law, which to this day are still intact in tribal areas, are authoritarian. One among them was a ban on freedom of expression.

It was ironic for me that even though the ban has never been repealed, the Pakistani government decided to establish four radio stations in FATA. And we journalists were hired -- after years reporting for newspapers.

As the days passed I came to know that the Khyber radio was established to give voice to the government’s activities and developments – not to its people. There was no element of local empowerment. The government was more interested in using the airwaves to fight back against three Mullah Radios, which were at that time broadcasting in the Khyber Agency.

Although we tried to explain that without the buy-in of the local community, there wouldn’t be an audience for Radio Khyber, far less change a whole region’s mind. We argued that what was needed was a way to ensure the station’s credibility for the public – and that was not possible without news and opinion programming. The government was leery - news and views could bring about unrest - disturb law and order - and no local radio stations had been allowed to broadcast local news.

Nafees Afridi is interviewing local tribal on community issue.
Once, a political agent of the Khyber Agency in FATA Secretariat (FATA Secretariat is a body which runs the affairs of tribal areas and appoint political agents to each district of FATA) criticized radio and questioned the outcome of this radio and proposed to shut it down. If a top executive of the tribal district, who has the power of policing and prosecution was not supporting legitimate airwaves and at the same time couldn’t stop illegal firebrand mullah radios, what one could expect other than that to shut it down.

When the person responsible for the radio station tells you there’s no room for local news, how are you supposed to meet your mission of promoting a positive government image? It’s not enough to play music. Also, the hate radio stations banned music, labeling music as Saytan (Devil) work. So if music, in their opinion, is Saytan work and those radio stations still have a large audience, then it doesn’t make sense to fight back by playing music. This is a very basic issue that needs to be addressed.

When those mullah radio stations reported for their followers that the government wanted to modernize tribal women and men on the tip fingers of west by playing music? What happened, they started campaign against gov’t radio. For example, the chief of Lashkar-e-Islam Mangal Bagh twice warned people not to call for radio station because they are promoting vulgarity. But when we started local bulletins—brief news updates -- with the approval of high ranking officer, it went well enough that we had covered the whole military operation in Swat. And the hate radios didn’t have to offer news bulletin and opinion programing to community and therefore, the public turned on to the government station because it was giving fresh news bulletin and news programing. No one threatened us because we were seen as non-biased reporters. Impartiality is the only security guarantee for a journalist in Pakistan. But news bulletins were closed down in March 2010, for security reasons.

The people in FATA are very used to radio broadcasting and they prefer Pashto news bulletins from VOA Pashtu Service, BBC Pashtu, Radio Azadi Afghanistan Pashtu Service, and Radio Mashaal Pashtu. The literate people of FATA also listens BBC Urdu Service, VOA Urdu Service, Voice of Germany Urdu Service, Radio Veritas Asia Urdu Service, Radio China Urdu Service, Radio Tehran Urdu Service and Delhi Radio Pashtu Service.
How could Radio Pakistan compete with that much news broadcasting? If you have a news service that only provides information about the government -- what the President said, what the Prime Minister said and what the Information Minister said – then you are just ignoring community problems. You can’t compete in the tribal areas when there’s so much other, reputable, news broadcasting. The government has lost an important potential audience to Radio Deewa and Radio Mashaal. Those are funded by the US State Department. When I asked Shandi Gul, an office boy who works at Radio Razmak, North Waziristan why he listened Radio Mashaal, his reply was simple: he just wanted to know what was going on in his surroundings. This proves that days of centralized information dissemination has been gone and people are now more concerned about local news.

The total estimated area of FATA is 27,220 km2 (10,509 sq mi). It has been almost covered by foreign radio broadcasters providing news and other programming in the Pashtu and Urdu languages. The expert staffs are drawn from Pakhtun areas, which were earlier neglected in mainstream media of Pakistan, has been putting their head into tribal affairs and also they enjoy respect in their respective communities.

Reporting staff is doing refresher course at University of Peshawar 

The government is fighting a losing battle for the minds of the people in FATA with those four radio stations. One, in Wana, South Waziristan, was closed down in 2009. None of them will ever be successful until and unless local media is allowed to hold accountable the local administration, education, health, agriculture, sericulture, and forestry, public works departments and development projects.

Just talking about patriotism isn’t enough. That doesn’t solve the common man’s problems and if people’s wishes and hopes are not respected now in FATA than they were in the past, then those people will choose to change the dial – and listen to a radio broadcast that does.

In Tribal Area: Radio Sensitize Public For School Education

A local radio station in Pakistan’s unsettled tribal areas has shown how important the media can be in spreading awareness of the importance of education. About 180 new students turned up at one government school in the town of Razmak in North Waziristan after the local radio station broadcast announcements telling parents that education in government schools was free. Most local parents thought they would have to pay for schooling. 

                                    The freshly admitted students are taking lessons from teacher.

North Waziristan is believed one of the main bases for militants causing instability in both Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan.

The Razmak radio which was established in 2006 to bridge gap between people and government has started Public Service Announcements (PSA’s) campaign to educate people on development issues. It has, in this scenario, designed PSAs in March and broadcasted it throughout the month to motivate local people to enroll their children at the schools. Razmak town is relatively safe unlike other fata schools where schools were blown up regularly. Local media sources say that more than 300 schools have been destroyed or damaged by militants in the tribal agencies in the past few years. The government school in Razmak is more protected because the town has one of the main government military bases in Waziristan.

Bahadur Nawaz, principal of the Government High School Razmak said that his school used to have only 30 students. There is little tradition of formal education in the fiercely conservative tribal areas, and few parents send their children to school. When the Razmak radio broadcasted PSA, he has started receiving good response from people of the locality .It is conveyed to listeners that their children will be taught freely and they would be provided free books. After broadcasting the PSA, large number of parents has started coming in for admission. ‘In less than a month, the number of students at School have raised to 210’’ Bahadur Nawaz added. Most of the students, he had admitted in school were fresh and brought in by parents who were poor and couldn’t bear little expenses in the form of admission fee.

Bakhtawar Jan, station Manager at Razmak Radio said that this message has been repeatedly broadcasted over a month and he has received tremendous response from listeners, who calls to station; asking for further information about free education.

He added that those, who called in station, were first suspicious about the authenticity of this announcement but when they realized that its true then they questioned the qualification of teachers whether they are qualified . ‘You can see the curiosity and interest of the public from this’, he told. He has never imagined such a response to PSA which brought 180 students to a deserted school.

Gul Khatem, the father of eight years old Junaid said that he heard this message from radio and took his child straight to school for admission. “It was exactly free of cost as was said by radio” he told. His son was studying in 1st class when he pulled out his child from a private school because of expenditure, said Khatem, who hails to Sola Borakhel Village of Razmak sub division.

The principal said that still people are coming regularly for admission and even today he has admitted more eight (8) students. Apart from fresh students, he has also admitted those students who were migrated from private schools.

Mr. Abdul Haseeb, resident of Shankie village at Razmak told that his two sons have been studying in fifth class in a private school but when he heard this message; he couldn’t resist bringing in his children to this school for free education.

The principal added that people who are Internally Displaced from South Waziristan and living in camps at Razmak and Shawal have also responded very well and they brought their children for admission.