Pakistan should lift ban on US-funded Radio Mashaal: USA
27 January, 2018
ISLAMABAD: The United States has urged Pakistan to lift a ban on US-funded Radio Mashaal, BBC Urdu reported on Friday. Department of State spokesperson Heather Nauert expressed US concerns regarding the ban, adding that the reservations had been forwarded to Islamabad. “The ban on Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty station concerns the US,” she told reporters at a press briefing. “We have informed the Pakistani government about our concerns and demand them to withdraw the decision of closing down Radio Mashaal without any delay.”
Last week, authorities shut down US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Pashto-language station in the country on for airing content ‘against the interest of Pakistan’. The office of RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal in Islamabad was ordered closed by the Ministry of Interior. The notification accused Radio Mashaal of portraying Pakistan as a ‘failed state’ and ‘a hub of terrorism and safe haven for different militant groups’. It alleged that the station was ‘distorting facts (to) incite the target population against the state and its institutions’, referring to ethnic Pashtuns. With its Pakistan bureau shut by authorities last week, Radio Mashaal is broadcasting from its headquarters in a distant Prague, waiting for ‘the dust to settle’, according to its senior editor. “We read the charges through social media.
We were not informed by any government agent,” Daud Khattak, Radio Mashaal’s Prague-based senior editor said. The organisation expressed concern that members of Radio Mashaal were facing pressure by authorities following the closure of the Pashto-language service’s Islamabad office on ISI orders last week. RFE/RL President Thomas Kent said there were indications that authorities were seeking to compel staffers to make forced statements against the news organization.