Wednesday, August 24, 2016

RFE/RL's 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
  • Locations: Prague, Islamabad
  • Staff: 24 (Prague), 23 stringers


Media Environment

  • 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.
  • Radio Mashaal's reporting is constantly cited by leading international media. Its video coverage of an attack on a school in Peshawar on December 16, 2014 was carried by CNN, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Yahoo News, Fox-Video, and other outlets. Mashaal’s personal relationship with Malala Yousafzai and her family has enabled the network to be a leading source of reporting on the young activist’s life and activities.
  • Despite low internet penetration among its target audience, Radio Mashaal has over half a million Facebook fans.  Forty-six percent of the visitors to its website are from the region.
  • In July and August 2015, Radio Mashaal video reports on the state-ordered demolition of a Pashtun-dominated shanty-town in Islamabad reached nearly 2.9 million people on Facebook and were viewed nearly 700,000 times.
  • In March 2015, the Pashtun-nationalist Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party lauded Radio Mashaal and VOA’s Radio Deewa for their outstanding coverage of the IDP crisis.
  • 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 November 2014, Radio Mashaal broke the story of 26 young girls who were abandoned by their sponsors and left stranded at a religious school in Karachi. Mashaal's reporting kept parents and local officials informed of the situation, and was instrumental in reuniting the girls with their families.
  • 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: 30 September 2015

Facts & Stats

Map of Pakistan
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)

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