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RFE/RL’s Service To Pakistan’s Tribal Areas: Radio Mashaal

Radio Mashaal is a public service broadcaster providing an alternative to extremist propaganda in Pakistan's tribal regions.

Fast Facts

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

Media Environment

  • Freedom House Freedom of the Press Index, 2016: Not Free (64th/100)
  • Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, 2016: 147th/180
  • Pakistan is consistently ranked among the most dangerous countries for journalists, who are caught between rival political groupings, the security forces, and militant or extremist networks. Journalists have been detained, kidnapped, subject to physical violence and threats, and killed.
  • Radio Mashaal and its correspondents have been named in fatwas attributed to the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and directly threatened by former TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud, who called Mashaal “enemy radio.”


  • Radio Mashaal provides local and international news and in-depth political reporting featuring local authorities and tribal elders. Programs dedicated to youth, women’s issues, family health, and human rights are unique in the region.
  • Despite low internet penetration among its target audience, Radio Mashaal has nearly one million Facebook fans. Forty-six percent of the visitors to its website are from the region.
  • In February 2016, Radio Mashaal produced a video about a 90-year old man who had to haul 100 pounds of flour on his back every day support his family. The video was viewed more than 25 million times and a crowd funding campaign was started to help him.
  • Radio Mashaal’s public service reporting on Pakistan’s polio vaccination campaign was instrumental in increasing inoculation rates in numerous villages in the tribal areas. The popularity of its on-air health programs prompted several local physicians to set up temporary health clinics to serve local communities.
  • In September 2015, Radio Mashaal produced a video about the first female truck driver that was watched more than two million times.
  • In December 2015, Mashaal produced a special project devoted to the first anniversary of the brutal Peshawar school attack that killed 151 children and staff.
  • Between October and December 2015, Mashaal produced and aired a 13-Episode feature titled “Madrassas Today,” addressing the taboo subject of Islamic schools, some of which foster extremism.
  • In May 2012, in order to promote religious, social, and cultural tolerance, Radio Mashaal launched a live music program combining content banned by the Taliban with audience participation.

Updated: 5 May 2016

Facts & Stats about Pakistan

  • Population: 185.0 million (World Bank estimate, 2014)
  • Most Common Languages: Punjabi, Sindhi, Siraiki, Pashto, Urdu
  • Press Freedom Index (Freedom House): Not Free, ranked 64 out of 100 (2016)
  • Press Freedom Index (RSF): 147 out of 180 (2016)
  • Corruption Index (Transparency Int.): 117 out of 168 (2015)
  • Global Peace Index (IES): 153 out of 162 (2016)
  • Human Rights Watch: Report on Pakistan (2016)
  • Amnesty International: Pakistan Report (2015/2016)