A multi purpose move of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to spend Rs100 million on the establishment of five Frequency Modulation (FM) radio channels in the merged districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is being hailed by the journalists and local community as it will help to provide tribal people much needed quality and authentic infotainment. The channels will also help in reducing tribal people dependency on foreign channels operating in the region.
However, many others are of view that it will take some time to replace the foreign radio channels with the local ones as people have been addicted to their manipulative reporting in the tribal regions.
While talking to Voice of KP a journalist from North Wazirstan, Habib shah said, that in order to compete with the foreign radio channels, the government run radio channels must not compromise on the authenticity of the reporting.
Meanwhile, this fact cannot be denied that before the merger the tribal people were greatly dependent on foreign radio channels like; Mashal Radio, Deva Radio and many others. All these foreign channels have been conducting propaganda against Pakistan and state institutions for decades which is a huge concern for the government of Pakistan.
Fitrat Ali the station manager of the Bajaur Radio which is one of the five radio channels, while commenting on the decision of KP government said that as a nation we had many challenges to overcome and for this we needed a strong network of community radio to protect our masses from false propaganda of the anti-state forces.
He further stated that besides many other challenges the most immediate one is the radio stations located in Afghanistan near the border region. All Afghanistan based radios are engaged in dissemination of negative propaganda against state institutions and are trying to develop a hateful narrative among youth.
He stated that many media reports claimed that these radio channels will not be able to replace the foreign channels which was a bias analysis as in order to counter the anti Pakistan, narrative we are committed to go to any length for the sake of our beloved country.
Furthermore, Zahid Wazir station manager of Wana radio told Voice of KP that new planned radio stations will not only become a source of entertainment and information but will also highlight the efforts of government. He stated that the radio stations will also provide a platform to government authorities to air and share their opinion, views and grievances.
He elaborated that programs will be aired in various local dialects to promote the ideology of de-radicalization and offer a counter-narrative to the anti-state elements. He explained that in past before the military operations, radio channels were greatly used by the militants as a propaganda tool to attract masses to their cause. Such radio stations are also operating in areas of Afghanistan adjacent to Pakistan border which are allegedly funded by RAW and CIA.
An official from information department while responding to our questions over the delay in the progress of fully launching the channels said that Bajaur and Wana stations have started their transmissions and Mohmand station is likely to be formally launched within a month. The officials are also working on rest of the two channels in North Wazirstan and Parachinar which will be launched at priority.
He maintained that the KP government had ordered equipment’s from Italy and due to Covid19 pandemic, the equipment’s are yet to reach Pakistan.
Murad Ali the producer of Mohmand radio station said that community radio was the need of hour as besides disseminating information, it will also produce awareness programmes for youth. Many other health and education related programs will also be aired on these channels which will help in engaging the masses in constructive activities.
It must be mentioned that KP government has taken a very good decision as the foreign radio channels in tribal districts have been playing negative role in creating chaos and anti-state sentiments among tribal people without presence of any counter narrative.
The government should make an effort to recruit trained and well experienced staff as a radio host with good communication skill as RJ’s can play a very important role in changing the perception of people. Moreover, the staff of all channels must be local in order to ensure information dissemination in local dialect. This will not only be more effective to impact youth but will also attract local audience.