Radio has been an extremely significant mode of information and entertainment in Wana, South Waziristan.
The area is devoid of most modern day facilities like the internet and cellular network services. However, with militancy and general uncertainty in the region, Radio Wana—one of the most popular frequency modulation channels—has stopped functioning, much to the disappointment of almost everyone in the area.
Radio is listened to first and foremost for news value.
People who do not have access to radios, still get information through word of mouth. A person tunes in, hears news and shares it with people with the information ultimately finding its way to the hujras and pawtowgai. The latter is where women sit together.
No equipment to block illegal radio stations
Since there are not many channels of entertainment in the area, radio serves as a mode of recreation.
Various frequency modulations in Urdu and Pashto are available in Waziristan where songs and shows are aired throughout the day. Pashto Services Deewa and Mashal are gaining increasing popularity in the area. Today, even foreign channels including Afghan radio from across the border can be accessed in the region.
Demise of a channel
Radio Wana was established in 2004 at 1,600 kHz. After remaining popular for several years, the important infotainment platform received several setbacks.
“Radio Wana programmes focused on local issues and were extremely famous,” Ala Khan who used to work at the radio station told The Express Tribune.
He said a news bulletin was presented every hour and regular streaming and commentary of all important occasions like cricket matches used to occur.
However, with the surge of militancy in the region, Radio Wana was attacked several times.
Ala said, “After receiving threats, the station ceased to play entertainment programmes including Pashto songs. However, the staff was still employed and continued their work.”
Later, when three blasts targeted the radio station and most of its equipment was stolen or destroyed, the platform ceased to exist.
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“There were about 16 people working there who lost their jobs and people of the region lost their source of amusement and news,” Ala said.
Tribal Union of Journalists (TUJ) Panel former chairman Shahzadin said the issue of Radio Wana has been taken up with Federal Minister for Information Pervez Rashid and will also be brought to the notice of K-P Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra. “Recently Radio Miran Shah is giving people hope, but we want Radio Wana to start functioning again,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 11th, 2016.
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