‘Apna Pakistan’: Military set to expand media outreach across country

Published: April 15, 2012
Email
Plans nationwide FM radio networks to bring social harmony to a ‘radicalised’ society. PHOTO: FILE

Plans nationwide FM radio networks to bring social harmony to a ‘radicalised’ society. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

In order to expand media outreach throughout Pakistan, the army is planning to set-up a countrywide radio network parallel to Radio Pakistan and PTV to create what it calls ‘social harmonisation’ and to propagate ‘state vision’ in a ‘vibrant manner.’

After the successful execution of FM radio projects in militancy-hit areas of Swat, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and Balochistan, a nationwide network of FM radios with a proposed name ‘Apna Pakistan’ is on the cards.

The network will run under the banner of 96 International Radio Network, with the military pulling the strings from behind the scene. Though most of the employees working with the network are civilians, a serving army officer will be the chief executive officer (CEO).

Taliban militants had set up their own network after having destroyed the state media network in Malakand. When the army moved in, it uprooted the militant network and established FM96 Radio Swat which has now been renamed FM96 Radio Pakhtoonkhwa.

Headed by a serving colonel of Pakistan Army, the network has continued to extend its outreach further and another station with coverage in Waziristan and Fata was later established which is now working as FM96 Pakhtoonzar. Yet another one was established for Balochistan named FM96 Vash Noori.

Equipped with state-of-the-art digital technology, the first of its kind in Pakistan, these radio networks are running ‘infotainment’ programmes – mainly local and Indian music – to counter ‘anti-state’ propaganda, officials said.

When the first army sponsored FM radio was set up in Swat, the responsibility of broadcasting was shared by three state organisations.  A studio facility was provided by the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC), satellite uplink was made available by Pakistan Television (PTV), installation of transmitting stations with recurring expenditures were borne by the army, whereas the ministry of information and broadcasting remained a linchpin.

Set up on February 24, 2009, the network initially used the studios of PBC/Radio Pakistan and the satellite facilities of PTV, but it now has a separate set-up in Islamabad and goes under the name of ‘Nine Six Media House’ where the latest studio facilities are available. Programmes, mostly of an interactive nature, in different dialects of Pashto and Balochi are being broadcast from the newly established office.

Since the set-up was being run through state organs, it was not registered with the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra).

Last year, the CEO of 96 International Radio Network approached the PBC to incorporate the network as an independent subsidiary of the PBC, but with its own ‘independent’ media policy. However, the PBC administration declined the idea.

The PBC reportedly said that it would be appropriate if 96 International Radio Network applied to Pemra for an independent licence. The PBC also claimed that it was not authorised to grant permission to use its own frequency to a private person for a private purpose.

Under the law, only a state broadcaster is allowed to launch a broadcast network bypassing Pemra, but in this case 96 International Radio Network appears to be trying to dodge regulatory and financial oversight by entering into an agreement with an official media house.

The PBC refusal to accommodate did not deter sponsors and now a draft agreement is ready to be signed between Shalimar Recording and Broadcasting Company Limited (SRBC), itself a subsidiary of PTV. The 96 International Radio Network aims to register itself as SRBC’s subsidiary.

However, both organisations will continue to be governed by their own rules and regulations.

ISPR, the media wing of the Pakistan Army, when approached for details of the proposed project, declined to comment. However, the CEO of 96 International Radio Network, during a candid interaction with The Express Tribune, said the network is being planned with the concept of ’socio-cultural broadcast’ to bring social harmony to a society that has been radicalised. He said it is yet to be decided if the network will be a subsidiary of the PBC, SRBC or PTV.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 15th, 2012.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (50)

  • Umer
    Apr 15, 2012 - 9:09AM

    I hope army officers are paying for it from their own pockets. Civilians already pay a lot in terms of defence budget.

    Recommend

  • Jawad Jutt
    Apr 15, 2012 - 9:15AM

    The radio Channel is headed by the Serving Colonel of the Pakistan Army
    What is going on in Pakistan. Where is Professionalism. There are many media personals for this job. An Active duty officer have no right to run a broadcast network. After Defence Housing Authority, seting up private universities and colleges and many commercial projects now they are stepping into media business as well. So much for the Professionalism of Our Army.
    We should learn from our Neighbor India is some aspects where An Army officer is only responsible to protect the borders of a country and they are not allowed to indulge in any other duty except to be a Professional Soldier and a defender of a country in the hour of need.

    Recommend

  • A. Khan
    Apr 15, 2012 - 9:20AM

    The last thing we need is more internal propaganda. How about spending this money on education which will go more towards enlightening people on Pakistan than anything else including promoting the beleaguered military ?

    Recommend

  • Yaida M
    Apr 15, 2012 - 9:39AM

    Is this the real role of the military? Why does it need propaganda? All it has to do is to uphold its responsibility and not exceed its mandate.

    Recommend

  • Sonya
    Apr 15, 2012 - 9:57AM

    The army is already directing the entire media behind the scenes and now running Radio network parallel to civilian government? At a time when we want to push them back to purely military functions from running housing colonies, banks, airlines, universities, fertilizer and cement plants and other civil setups like NADRA etc.

    Recommend

  • Falcon
    Apr 15, 2012 - 10:17AM

    It would have been helpful to know that why this had to be led by military? Is this an interim setup since military is most familiar with the extremist areas and can therefore devise effective content?…but in that case too, it would have been beneficial if civilians ran it with consultants from military. Military should try to stay away from such initiatives since this can potentially ruin their image even further.

    Recommend

  • khan
    Apr 15, 2012 - 11:08AM

    Nonsense, nothing has changed in this country. The real leash is still with the army. The worst situation we are in today is because of its interference and as long as this institution tries to control common taxpayers, by enjoying us taxpayers hard earned money, nothing good will ever happen to this country. We will continue is pseudo farce of political and public freedom.

    Recommend

  • Atif Razza
    Apr 15, 2012 - 11:13AM

    This is an excellent idea, Instead of criticising, really we need to adopt the positive attitude. Yar atleast they are doing something productive so let them do, this is for our country. Being a civilian there is alot of things we donnot know but on part of Army they know it. If somebody donnot want to listen donn’t turn ON, no body is pushing that we must switched ON. But this step is excellent.
    Really i like it.
    Pakistan Zindah Baad
    PAK ARMY Zinda Baad
    Regards

    Recommend

  • Apr 15, 2012 - 11:15AM

    The Taliban’s use of pirate stations for their anti-state propaganda in FATA needs to be effectively countered…if PTV and Radio Pakistan don’t do it, then Army should as has been the practice by Armed Forces Radio in America….at a minimum the Army should do everything it can to raise the morale of its soldiers engaged in counterinsurgency against the militants.

    Recommend

  • Umer
    Apr 15, 2012 - 12:19PM

    As if Fazlulah’s radio was not enough!

    Recommend

  • Apr 15, 2012 - 12:24PM

    Now we can open a branch in Delhi and call it Radio Pakistan Delhi. Thanks to FDI.

    Recommend

  • Apr 15, 2012 - 1:02PM

    After running so many business establishments this media venture is good idea. Do every thing except what you are supposed to do. well I am sure it will be easier to announce next martial law. No need to capture radio stations or PTV.

    Recommend

  • Ali
    Apr 15, 2012 - 1:08PM

    @Jawad Jutt:
    Then why don’t you open your own radio station and serve the nation. Stop criticzing the army. No body is stopping you to invest in different housing authority. Pakistanis be careful as most Indians pose as Pakistanis and demonize the Pakistani Army and Pakistan itself

    Recommend

  • PoliceParty
    Apr 15, 2012 - 2:11PM

    Good idea, they should use it to remind themselves of the countless burdens they’ve committed in the past 65 years.

    Recommend

  • Atif Razzaq
    Apr 15, 2012 - 2:24PM

    We have to accept ,this is the truth and we have no other option that whenever ARMY come and take control of the country . the development and progress come , although accept that there is negative parts also happened….
    Now if we compare with the previous era……
    look at the loadshading
    debts on pakistan
    and there is alot of other, compare those things by your self u people will realize it

    Regards

    Recommend

  • Atif Razzaq
    Apr 15, 2012 - 2:28PM

    Now need war , economic and media war is enogh….
    we need to think about it, this thing that ARMY is doing, we will see there is alot positive aspects.wait and see…..
    we need to trust our ARMY.
    Slam and Slaute to Pakistan ARMY
    Pakistan Zindah Baad

    Recommend

  • Senman
    Apr 15, 2012 - 2:43PM

    @AlI
    Great whoever criticize Pakistani must be Indians. I can see the beginning of End…

    Recommend

  • Jawad Jutt
    Apr 15, 2012 - 2:58PM

    @Ali: I am an Indirect financier of all the Projects run by Our Army. I am a Tax payer of Pakistan.I have every right to ask why Tax Payer’s money is spent like that .
    When my 16 percent of the salary is deduced and i came to know that radio channels, housing schemes, private universities and colleges are going to be financed by Pakistan Army which in turn getting this money from Gov on the name of defence and that is actually my money and I am a Tax payer and i have every valid right to raise my voice. If they could spent out of their own pockets then i have no right.
    All i want is some professionalism in our Army. There should be a Difference in a Warrior and a Businessman. Army Officials dont need to become Jack of All trades and Master of None. Be a Master of Defence and that is what Pakistanis want.

    Recommend

  • Vigilant
    Apr 15, 2012 - 3:24PM

    Good move……keep it up…….

    Recommend

  • Haider A.
    Apr 15, 2012 - 6:36PM

    I hate this country. I wish it was easier, cheap and less consuming to change ones nationality.

    Recommend

  • Apr 15, 2012 - 7:43PM

    After US Aid funded media Army is countering foreign subversion by starting these radio and tv stations. Hoping they use it fir right reasons and not for US worship like everyone else is doing.

    Recommend

  • Faizan Ayyub
    Apr 15, 2012 - 7:44PM

    its good absolutely right step Pak Army is going to take , (Y)
    after Radio Pak army should also run TV channel ,

    Recommend

  • DejaVu77
    Apr 15, 2012 - 7:53PM

    This should come as a surprise for people who have moved around the world particularly in ME where at time when you could not hear radio station other than Arabic, you were still able to hear US Navy channel FM 107 playing country music. Every major country uses its media and medium to propagate national interest. It’s only in Pakistan where you see people criticizing its own forces.

    Recommend

  • Umer
    Apr 15, 2012 - 7:55PM

    While civilians are committing suicide of poverty, army has so much surplus money to setup radio station which is not a necessity but any measure. That is what happens when there is no accountably.

    Recommend

  • waseem
    Apr 15, 2012 - 8:00PM

    hmm good step

    Recommend

  • Munir Khan
    Apr 15, 2012 - 8:02PM

    It is great job by Military to run Radio Station, they should start Television also to cover State vision. As our leadership is impotent and too corrupt and is not able to serve country, only Army left to do this job also. Love it. Keep it up.

    Recommend

  • Umer
    Apr 15, 2012 - 8:04PM

    @Riaz Haq:

    The Taliban’s use of pirate stations
    for their anti-state propaganda in
    FATA needs to be effectively
    countered…

    The counter for a militant run radio station is an air-to-ground radio signal homing missile; which for some reason military has been unwilling to do so far; raising suspicions among the cynics as to what is really going on. Does army tolerate militant radio stations so it could use them as excuse to setup its own radio station at the expense of the public, to brain wash the masses even further? One has to wonder.

    Recommend

  • Liberator
    Apr 15, 2012 - 8:22PM

    Great ! From cornflakes to banks to housing societies, mobiles and now this. Where will this stop ?
    Reduce the army budget so that they cannot waste civilians money to propagate their own selfish interests.
    Radio Swat or FATA is fine since it was to control militancy but a national radio is a big NO.

    All those supporting this what if tomorrow KESC or LESCO starts electing your government and controlling everything in this country after charging more taxes on you ? It is not their job right. Army is also a public service institution to protect our borders like we have police and rangers. It is an institution created from civilians money to serve civilians like pia, steel mill etc. Nobody has a right to use our money to control us forcefully. This is ridiculous.

    Recommend

  • Ali Mardan
    Apr 15, 2012 - 8:32PM

    Great effort but still too small. In my openion, army should use some other popular and frequently used media as well. As far as I know, only few people might be still listening to the FM Radio channels in urban areas.

    Recommend

  • Logic Europe
    Apr 15, 2012 - 9:58PM

    many people are mental slaves of army or may be they are hiding behind commentators

    Recommend

  • Sajida
    Apr 15, 2012 - 10:45PM

    Radicalization is due to Wahhabiization.
    Why s country then contemplating Saudi energy help?
    http://www.kuna.net.kw/ArticleDetails.aspx?id=2233081&language=en
    Saudi Arabia offers Pakistan energy package to abandon Iran pipeline

    Recommend

  • Salem
    Apr 15, 2012 - 10:56PM

    Parallel state!!! Utter shameful.. Why army needs to setup parallel tv/radio if they are doing job they are supposed to do..

    Recommend

  • Basit
    Apr 15, 2012 - 11:02PM

    It’s funny to see Pakistani liberals complaining about an Army run radio network that has been successful in countering Taliban propaganda radio, yet these same liberals will listen to American government Voice of America sponsored radio or BBC wholeheartedly!

    Recommend

  • Zaheer Baloch
    Apr 15, 2012 - 11:16PM

    Its ridiculous to hear that a serving army officer would supervise and produce entertainment FM programs. May be in future we would hear a FM host by name “Dj-Capt XYZ ” or “RJ-Major ABC” …… for song and poetry dedication type “GHQ space 123 space you message” :)

    Recommend

  • Faesal
    Apr 15, 2012 - 11:19PM

    @Umer:
    I know you just can’t stop whining against the Army. If setting a radio station give more job to people, what you problem with that.

    Seriously most of times you just go over the top ranting continuously against Army.

    Recommend

  • Faesal
    Apr 15, 2012 - 11:38PM

    @Basit:
    Exactly, These fake liberal extremists will happily listen to VOA because Uncle America always speaks the truth.

    Recommend

  • Copper
    Apr 16, 2012 - 12:25AM

    @Atif Razzaq:

    Slam and Slaute to Pakistan ARMY

    I agree with the “slam” part

    Recommend

  • Apr 16, 2012 - 12:26AM

    Probably communicating with the people in areas dominated by militants/Taliban radio may be am effective tool to counter them/their thoughts.

    Recommend

  • SyncUP
    Apr 16, 2012 - 1:00AM

    Why cannot the Fauji Foundation own a Radio Channel???

    Recommend

  • Babloo
    Apr 16, 2012 - 1:22AM

    24-hour non-stop war and patriotic music interspersed with sermons from Saeed Hafeez.

    Recommend

  • Justice
    Apr 16, 2012 - 5:23AM

    I repeat the words of one commentator@Sonya for excellent analysis:

    The army is already directing the entire media behind the scenes and now running Radio network parallel to civilian government? At a time when we want to push them back to purely military functions from running housing colonies, banks, airlines, universities, fertilizer and cement plants and other civil setups like NADRA etc.

    Recommend

  • Sabih Zafar Ullah
    Apr 16, 2012 - 12:07PM

    Another great business idea by Military Inc. Bloody Civilians, please get ready to pay for another 1000 employees from your taxes.

    Recommend

  • azhar saleem
    Apr 18, 2012 - 9:03AM

    for GOD sake !!! please have a little piety on this poor country.we do not require another piece of your professionalism.mu advice to army is be professional in their own fields people will love you .

    Recommend

  • Shah
    Apr 18, 2012 - 10:37AM

    The deep state is here with an other trick to fool us, this time through radio waves. What a shame. Why on earth the army need FM network? It will have disastrous consequences for democracy in Pakistan.

    Recommend

  • Ebad
    Apr 23, 2012 - 10:48PM

    @Jawad Jutt:
    As if our Army is not professional ?? Do you doubt their professionalism while they are putting their lives on the line to protect the country ???
    Where are you when your tax money is eaten up by the huge corruption prevailing the country and only concerned about Military budget …???
    If you want the army to be “professional” as you call it then do criticize it when it is always the first to reach the site of a natural disaster and does the relief work,relief work is certainly not Army’s domain or is it?? They are loyal soldiers not paid mercenaries,of course they get paid but for protecting us not endangering themselves in the process,show some respect and gratitude

    Recommend

  • sarah khan
    Apr 24, 2012 - 12:11AM

    @Umer:
    U “may be” paying from ur pocket but our beloved Pak Army is paying with their lives.

    Recommend

  • sarah khan
    Apr 24, 2012 - 12:19AM

    @Jawad Jutt:
    when media becomes fifth colulmnists of enemies then the defenders of the nation has to come to do “the JOB”, and we love our Pakarmy to do this thing also for us. may God help them.Amen.

    Recommend

  • sarah khan
    Apr 24, 2012 - 12:28AM

    @Umer:
    Then why don’t you open your own radio station and serve the nation. Stop criticzing the army. No body is stopping you to invest in different housing authority. Pakistanis be careful as most Indians pose as Pakistanis and demonize the Pakistani Army and Pakistan itself

    Recommend

  • sabeqoon
    Apr 24, 2012 - 1:05AM

    Brilliant idea, Army should have multiple separate TV channels, Radio network as well as print media. The nation should know the sacrifices of our Armed forces ! Barak Allah feek . sal lal laho alibhe wa alehe wasalamRecommend

  • salsabeel
    Apr 24, 2012 - 8:25AM

    wow this is Great……. Pakistan Army should have Radio stations like this in all over the country….. because the nation should know the cause they are fighting for….. and their sacrifices for this land(Pakistan)…..

    Recommend

More in Pakistan