Islamabad: Pakistan shuts US-funded Radio Free Network ‘Mashaal’ and sealed its office in Islamabad, The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had revealed that Radio Mashaal’s programmes were ‘against the interests of Pakistan’ and in line with ‘hostile intelligence agency’s agenda’, a government notification says
The interior ministry issued an order ‘terminating’ the activities of US-Funded Radio Mashaal as it has a large number of listeners in the country’s northwest and the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan.
This move comes against the backdrop of Pakistan-US ties falling to a new low after Washington suspended nearly $2 billion in financial aid over Islamabad’s counter-terrorism efforts.
Interior ministry in this regard issued a notification which reads as, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) network had revealed that Radio Mashaal’s programmes were ‘against the interests of Pakistan’ and in line with ‘hostile intelligence agency’s agenda”.
The notification further reads as, the four main themes of programmes aired by the station are ‘portraying Pakistan as a hub of terrorism and a safe haven for militant groups, propagating Pakistan as a failed state in terms of providing security to its people, especially minorities and Pashtoons, highlighting Pashtoon population of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP)/Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and Balochistan (as being) disenchanted with the state (and) distorting facts to incite the target population against the state and its institutions”.
The authority directed the chief commissioner of Islamabad to close down the radio station’s office in the city and block its activities.
The Czech-based Radio Free Europe first began its services in Fata in 2010 by the name of Radio Mashaal with an aim of providing “an alternative to the growing number of extremist radio stations in the region”.