Text of report by Iqbal Khattak headlined “Taleban ‘force’ Radio Pakistan to discontinue VOA broadcasts” published by Pakistan newspaper Daily Times website on 7 February
Peshawar: The Radio Pakistan management has decided to scrap the agreement with the Voice of America (VOA) to broadcast its Pashto-language radio programmes after receiving “direct threats” for airing “American propaganda”, Daily Times has learnt.
The VOA launched its Pashto-language radio station, ‘Deeva Radio’, last year, targeting audience in the Tribal Areas and the NWFP [North-West Frontier Province]. Deeva Radio is aimed at offering the locals with a chance to speak out against the Taleban in the region. Radio Pakistan aired Deeva Radio programmes during its prime time slot - 7pm to 10pm.
A senior producer at Radio Pakistan Peshawar told Daily Times, “The Taleban and other anti-American groups in the country threatened to bomb the Radio Pakistan Peshawar premises if the station continued airing Deeva Radio programmes”. He said, “The Radio Pakistan central management ended its agreement with the VOA in light of the terror threats and political pressure, as many local listeners went to the (print) media to force the government to cancel the agreement.”
“The programme content was polemic at best, which added fuel to the local anti-American sentiment. It also created the impression that the programmes were being recorded at the Peshawar station, which has never been the case,” the producer added. However, Radio Pakistan Director General Murtaza Solangi said the state-run broadcaster aired Deeva Radio programmes during September and October. The broadcast was cancelled after a month on mutual agreement between the Radio Pakistan and the VOA.
(Source: Daily Times website, Lahore, in English 07 Feb 10 via BBC Monitoring/R Netherlands media Network Weblog)