Last week Pakistan had shut down Islamabad bureau of Radio Mashaal after the ISI alleged that its programmes were "against the interest of Pakistan and in line with a hostile intelligence agency's agenda".
The US today urged Pakistan to restore operations of Radio Mashaal shut down by Islamabad for allegedly broadcasting programmes against the “interests” of the country. The Pashto-language radio station of US Congress-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) was operating from the border areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Last week Pakistan had shut down Islamabad bureau of Radio Mashaal after the ISI alleged that its programmes were “against the interest of Pakistan and in line with a hostile intelligence agency’s agenda”. The allegations were denied by REF/RL. “Radio Mashaal serves no intelligence agency or government,” RFE/RL president Thomas Kent had said. “We are very concerned about the Pakistani Ministry of Interior’s decision to close the offices of Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Liberties, Radio Marshall in Islamabad on January 19th,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters at the Washington DC Foreign Press Center. She said the US has conveyed its concerns to Pakistan and urged them to “swiftly and unequivocally revoke the closure decision and restore Radio Marshall’s operations”.
In a separate statement, John F Lansing, CEO Broadcasting Board of Governors, said he was “troubled” by the decision of the Pakistani government. “RFE/RL’s dedicated reporters are Pakistani citizens providing unbiased and accurate local reporting. They should be permitted to do their jobs informing the Pakistan citizenry, and they should be guaranteed safety while they do it,” he said. “I call for the immediate reopening of its offices in Islamabad. The people of Pakistan deserve access to fact-based reporting,” Lansing said. The Pakistani move comes amid deteriorating US-Pakistan relations after Washington’s decision to suspend military aid to Islamabad. RFE/RL’s Pashto language service, known locally as Radio Mashaal, is a public service broadcaster providing an alternative to extremist propaganda in Pakistan’s tribal regions. Kent demanded that RFE/RL journalists be allowed to resume their work “without fear or delay”.