By: Katherine Hewitt
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia 

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – On January 19, the Interior Ministry of Pakistan released an order to close the Radio Mashaal office in Islamabad. The Inter-Service Intelligence revealed the news station broadcasted programs that are “against the interest of Pakistan,” that reflect a “hostile intelligence agency’s agenda”, and that portray “Pakistan as a hub for terrorism.” The report went on to say that Radio Mashaal accuses Pakistan of harboring terrorists and of being a failed state.

Radio Mashaal was closed recently by Pakistani authorities. Photo Courtesy of Noorullah Shirzada.

Radio Mashaal is the Pashto-language part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).   RFE/RL is funded by the U.S. Congress. It is made possible by the bipartisan federal Broadcasting Board of Governors agency that oversees all international broadcasting.  Radio Mashaal was created to provide “an alternative to extremist propaganda in the tribal regions of Pakistan’s border.”

Amin Mudaqiq is the head of Radio Mashaal which broadcasts out of Prague. He denies that fact that Radio Mashaal is a part of foreign intelligence. He also stated that Pakistani intelligence had been questioning the integrity of the news produced for a while.

The president of RFE/RL said,” Radio Mashaal is an essential source of reliable, balanced information for our Pakistani audience.” The Coordinator of the Asia Program at the Committee to Protect Journalists, Steven Butler said of closure, “The order to close Radio Mashaal’s office in Islamabad is a draconian move by Pakistani authorities and a direct threat to press freedom in the country.”

For more information, please see:

Committee to project Journalists – Pakistan orders closure of US-funded Radio Mashaal office in Islamabad – 19 January 2018

Voice of America – Pakistan Orders Closure of US-funded RFE/RL Bureau in Islamabad – 19 January 2018

Reporters Without Borders – RSF decries Pakistan’s closure of Radio Mashaal bureau – 23 January 2018

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – Watchdog Condemns Pakistan’s Move Against RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal – 20 January 2018

Author: Katherine Hewitt

Katherine Hewitt is a first year Masters of Arts in International Affairs candidate in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. She is pursuing a concentration in Peace, Security, and Conflict. Her interests lie in ethnic conflicts, particularly in the Post-Soviet Sphere. She expects to graduate in December 2018.