Friday, March 06, 2015

RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal

Radio Mashaal was launched in January 2010 in order to provide reliable reporting in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Fast Facts

  • Language: Pashto
  • Established: 2010
  • Distribution: Radio (AM, SW), Internet (website, mobile, YouTube, social media)
  • Coverage: 9 hours daily
  • Locations: Prague, Islamabad
  • Staff: 24 (Prague), 23 stringers

Media Environment

  • Pakistan is consistently ranked among the most dangerous countries for journalists, as they are caught between warring political parties, the security forces and militant or extremist networks.
  • Radio Mashaal and its correspondents have been directly threatened by Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader Hakimullah Mehsud, who called Mashaal “enemy radio.” Extremists routinely threaten, kidnap, and attack journalists.


  • Radio Mashaal provides local and international news and in-depth political reporting featuring local policy makers and tribal elders. It broadcasts several programs that are unique in the region, dedicated to youth, women’s issues, human rights and health care.
  • In April 2013, Radio Mashaal hosted the first ever political debates between Pakistani parliament candidates from the 12 districts in the FATA.v
  • Mashaal programming offers an alternative to extremist propaganda prevalent in the tribal areas, especially among the region’s majority youth population. In 2011, a series of reports explored how moderate Islam is taught at Egypt’s Al Azhar University, while in May 2012, Mashaal sent a correspondent to report on Islam in Turkey.
  • After the Taliban banned a World Health Organization polio vaccination campaign as an “act of infidels” in June 2012, Mashaal launched an extensive public awareness campaign to counter misinformation and explain the program's health benefits. The FATA Health Department has declared that 65% of those vaccinated learned about the program from Radio Mashaal.
  • Ongoing Radio Mashaal coverage of the 2012 Taliban attack on youth activist Malala Yousafzai and blasphemy charges against young Rimsha Masih, and fatal attacks on polio vaccination campaign workers has given local media and residents the space to speak openly about extremist brutality.
  • In May 2012, Mashaal launched a live music program combining content banned by the Taliban with audience participation that highlights the need for religious, social and cultural tolerance.
  • Mashaal reported exclusively about a schoolboy who set himself on fire in April 2012 because his family could not afford to buy his school uniform. In response to the story, a local charity was founded to support poor students; it offered a scholarship to the boy’s older brother.

Updated: 16 August 2013

Facts & Stats

Map of Pakistan
179.2 million (World Bank estimate, 2012)

Most Common Languages:
Punjabi, Sindhi, Siraiki, Pashto, Urdu

Press Freedom Index (Freedom House):
Not Free, ranked 146 out of 197 (2013)

Press Freedom Index (RSF):
159 out of 179 (2013)

Corruption Index (Transparency Int.):
139 out of 183 (2012)

Global Peace Index (IES):
157 out of 162 (2013)

Human Rights Watch:
Report on Pakistan (2013)

Amnesty International:
Pakistan Report (2013)

Meet Radio Mashaal

Maliha Amirzada - Radio Mashaal

Service Snapshots: Maliha Amirzada

Maliha Amirzada is a correspondent for RFE's Radio Mashaal. We caught up with her to discuss Radio Mashaal and its impact on Pashtun society. More