Radio Broadcasting in Pakistan: On the Air in Peshawa
Radio Pakistan QSL
Focus on Asia:
The Story of Radio Broadcasting in Pakistan: On the Air in Peshawa
city of Peshawar in Pakistan is located right up against the edge of the Khyber
Pass in what used to be the North West Frontier in British India. The name Peshawar comes from an old Sanskrit
word which is translated as “City of Men”,
perhaps meaning a city with a lot of people, or a city where the men were
dominant and powerful.
The original inhabitants were
tribal's of Indo-Iranian heritage who moved into the area in ancient times. In the year 326 BC, Alexander the Great moved
his armies through the area in their onward march towards mainland India; and
it is stated that doubting Thomas of Biblical fame passed through the area in
his trek towards south India in the year 52 AD.
By the year 100, historians tell us
that Peshawar was the seventh most populous city in the world; and it
was around that era that descendants of the left over soldiers from Alexander’s
army became rulers in Peshawar itself.
The Buddhist era began soon afterwards with missionaries coming in from
the plains of India.
The Buddhists constructed a stupa, a
rounded mound, that was 400 feet high and it is thought that this
was the tallest building on Earth at the time.
On several occasions, the stupa was damaged and destroyed by lightning,
and though it was again repaired and rebuilt, these days only the ruins of the
came to Peshawar a thousand years ago; the territory was absorbed into British
India in 1849; and the monumental Bab-i-Khyber, the Khyber Gateway, was
constructed over the highway in 1964.
During the 1980s with the Russian presence in Afghanistan, around four
million refugees came into Peshawar, though the official population for
Peshawar stands around 2½million.
came to Peshawar in 1919 with the establishment of station VWP, quite close to
the Bala Hissar Fort and the nearby railway line. An early postcard shows all three in the one
photograph: the Fort, the railway line and the wireless station.
When wireless became radio and spark
gave way to voice communication, the station identification was changed from
VWP to VVP. A station list in 1933
showed station VVP on 34.28 m, or as we would say today, 8750 kHz.
It was in 1934 that the Marconi
radio company in England offered equipment for a new radio broadcasting station
to the government of the North West Frontier Province. The agreement provided that if the project
was successful, the provincial government would purchase the equipment.
This new broadcasting station was
inaugurated with local programming on March 6, 1935 and soon afterwards it was
allocated the callsign VUP, with these letters indicating India Peshawar. This small radio station emitted just 250
watts on 1500 kHz which gave it little more than just quite local coverage. Back at that time there was a promise that
the station would be upgraded to 2 kW, though this prediction was never
During the following year, the
provincial government took over the control of the station, and during the next
year again, the station was taken over by the Indian national government in
Delhi. Then, in March 1939, station VUP
Peshawar was converted into a relay station, taking its programming on a
telephone line from the national station VUD in Delhi.
However, a totally new broadcasting
station, with new studios and new technical equipment, was constructed at
the old wireless location in Peshawar soon afterwards, and this was inaugurated
on December 1, 1942. This new station
with its new RCA transmitter was assigned the mediumwave channel 629 kHz with
an output power of 10 kW.
Thus, it is true, there were really
two different radio broadcasting stations in Peshawar in the era before
partition; the Marconi station on 1500 kHz, followed by the
government station on 629 kHz, both of which were on the air, consecutively,
under the same callsign, VUP.
Back about 1½years
before the epic events of Freedom at Midnight, there was a man from Pilibhit up
near the border with Nepal, by the name of Tahir Husain. He owned a radio shop in Delhi and he agreed
to assemble a radio transmitter together with a power supply. This radio broadcasting equipment was
smuggled in three large fruit baskets into a house in Peshawar occupied by
Sardar Abdur Rab.
On April 24, 1946, this new
clandestine radio broadcasting station was activated in the 70 metre band (approx
4285 kHz) in another home in Peshawar.
The programming that was broadcast over this mini radio station was
intended to influence the vote in a coming local political election. The station was moved several times within
Peshawar itself in order to avoid detection, and its short life span ended as
soon as the elections were over, shortly afterwards.
the time of partition in 1947, there were just two radio broadcasting stations
on the air in the Pakistani West Wing; VUL Lahore with 5
kW on 1086 kHz and VUP Peshawar with 10 kW on 629 kHz. When things got sorted out in the two
dominions, India & Pakistan, the callsigns were regularized in Pakistan
under new designation for this new country, and VUP Peshawar became APP.
As Nihal Ahmed tells us in his very interesting
book, A History of Radio Pakistan, the transition from All India Radio Peshawar
to Radio Pakistan Peshawar took place around midnight, between Thursday August
14 and Friday August 15, 1947. At the
time, the AIR relay station VUP in Peshawar was on the air with 10 kW on 1500
Soon after 11:00 pm on Thursday
August 14, Yunus Sethi made the final announcement on behalf
of All India Radio. This was followed
soon after midnight with the opening announcement on behalf of the Pakistan
Broadcasting Service in the Urdu language of Pakistan by Aftab Ahmad Bismil and
then a similar announcement in the Pushto language of Afghanistan by Abdullah
Jan Maghmoom .
the first series of new radio stations planned for installation in the new
Pakistan were all intended to radiate on shortwave, and not mediumwave. A few months after partition, a
representative of the new Pakistani government visited England to negotiate the
purchase of equipment for several new radio stations.
Soon afterwards, it was announced
that these new radio stations would be installed in five cities in Pakistan
including Peshawar, and that the transmitters at these locations would operate
on shortwave with 7½kW. However, as the unfolding of events would
demonstrate, not one of these transmitters was installed anywhere in the
territory we know as Pakistan.
later, in the year 1960, a fifth new shortwave station in Pakistan was
installed in the frontier city, Peshawar, and it was inaugurated on October
15. This was a 10 kW AWA transmitter
from Australia and it was inaugurated at the city location and given the
However, as time went by, a new
transmitter station was constructed at Chughalpura, some three miles out north
east from Peshawar. This station housed two transmitters, both mediumwave and shortwave at 10 kW
each, though these days, just one mediumwave transmitter is on the air at this
location, now with 100 kW on 729 kHz.
Radio Pakistan Peshawar APP shortwave left the air in 1999.
recently, a newer and larger transmitter station was constructed at Pabbi, a
dozen miles east from Peshawar, and these days it houses two mediumwave transmitters; 100 kW on 1170 kHz and 300 kW on 540
Back in the late 1930s before Partition,
QSL cards were printed for general use by the various stations in the
federation-wide network of All India Radio.
These cards also showed entries for VUP Peshawar.
The first known QSLs from the new
Radio Pakistan are dated in the year 1949, just two years after Partition.These cards showed the Radio Pakistan logo,
the star and the crested moon, and they listed the early radio stations that
were on the air at the time.
A subsequent QSL card gave more
details about the early mediumwave stations in Pakistan. The earliest of these cards, of which there
are three or four different designs, lists the mediumwave and shortwave
stations in Peshawar:- APP1 on 580 kHz & APP2 shortwave.