How FM radio spread mayhem in Swat

Published: November 7, 2010
Opinion-makers and residents trace three-year stranglehold of militants on Swat to FM radio station.

Opinion-makers and residents trace three-year stranglehold of militants on Swat to FM radio station.

SWAT: Opinion-makers and residents trace the three-year stranglehold of militants on Swat to a FM radio station and blame some “unseen powers” for helping the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan to spread their poisonous agenda.

An illegal radio station was set up in 2004 by Mullah Fazlullah, a Taliban leader who had kept a low profile until then. The station aired the religious sermons of a small band of people. Initially, the interpretations of the Holy Quran only carried a tinge of emotion.

Several well-informed people in the Valley believe the illegal broadcasting operation was openly backed by some invisible powers that helped nurture the enterprise.

“There was definitely a strong hand behind the operation which was disturbing the serenity of paradise on earth (Swat),” Fazal Rabi Rahi, a local journalist and analyst tells The Express Tribune. “Even though locals warned the authorities of the consequences of letting the radio venture thrive, no action was taken against it. Rather every hurdle and challenge that came in its way was skillfully cleared.”

Those who started following his directions also regret their decision. “If we knew that Fazlullah would lead us to mayhem, we would never have listened to his sermons or donated a single penny,” a woman from Matta district said ruefully. “We thought he was a true Islamic scholar, teaching religion in a better way but he just exploited us by giving emotional speeches and palming off his own interpretation of Islam,” she confessed.

Wary of people’s interests, he began criticising government policies and exhorting people to violence. This was when the poison began to spread in society, and the situation began to spin out of control.

After a highly successful campaign by the Fazlullah group, law and order was challenged in some parts of the area when people brought their televisions, DVD players, video and audio-tape players to a specified place and burnt them under the supervision of the Fazlullah group.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 7th, 2010.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (18)

  • Adil
    Nov 7, 2010 - 1:16PM

    unseen powers??? it is called MMA dude!!!Recommend

  • parvez
    Nov 7, 2010 - 2:20PM

    In my opinion the credit for this rests squarely on Mushraaf’s (remember Pakistan comes first) shoulders.Recommend

  • Adi
    Nov 7, 2010 - 2:33PM

    Only mulla in pakistan who understands the power of media :)Recommend

  • faraz
    Nov 7, 2010 - 3:48PM

    The army failed to jam a stupid radio?Recommend

  • Danish
    Nov 7, 2010 - 4:47PM

    @ Faraz…Army couldn’t do anything initially becouse Fazalulah was having public sympathy and support along with that of provincial govt (read MMA) of that time. Even when Army was suffering heavy causalities in post Lal Masjid period, they were unable to eradicate him because of this reason. Fazalullah being so called free media’s darling also made it difficult for the Army to take a decisive action. Once the real face of Fazalullah came in public he was taken care of by the Army.Recommend

  • TheTruth
    Nov 7, 2010 - 4:52PM

    The MMA (Mullah Millitary Alliance) lead by Gen Pervez Musharraf deserves the medal for this achievementRecommend

  • Gulalai
    Nov 7, 2010 - 4:53PM

    This is called true use of mediaRecommend

  • Anoop
    Nov 7, 2010 - 6:06PM

    Kamran Shafi on Dawn talks about it well. The radio show which spread terror was around for 4 years. The Pakistani army which is has tonnes of resources at its disposal could not locate the source of the Radio Waves which can be done by any IT student in Bangalore for his final year project.

    Amazing nobody questions the Army about this.Recommend

  • Saad Mian
    Nov 7, 2010 - 9:01PM

    Unless the Pakistan’s sacred cows (army, president, bureaucracy, non-tax paying elite, Mullah) are brought into national discussion, analyzed for that they have done to the country and what should be done to them, Pakistanis should not hope for their dark future (if it exists at all) to change any time soon. Stand up for the rights of all Pakistanis, regardless of their tribe, race, gender, and faith, otherwise get ready to be perished.Recommend

  • Postmodenist
    Nov 7, 2010 - 10:05PM

    MMA with the support of military promoted the systematically
    establishment of the terror networks throughout NWFP
    Militants who ran away from AFhhanistan were provided sanctuaries
    and allowed to freely run terror training centers. Their wahabi tools in Civil bureaucracy were
    brought into action as well- notorious example is that of commissioner of Malakand, Syed Muhammad Javed Shah (still untouched by our hyperactive judiciary). Unfortunately all this is still going on in FATA, for with ANP and PP in power military could not openly continue the terror networks in settled areas. Recommend

  • Hamayun
    Nov 7, 2010 - 10:59PM

    @ Danish…I find it absurd to suppose that it was difficult for the Army to take decisive action. From day-1, the army was educated to the realities of Swat situation; they knew the ugliness of the picture but they failed to take timely remedial action and the resulting situation redounded to the advantage of Talibaan. Furthermore, if on one hand the Talabaan slaughtered the innocent Swat people, the devastation caused by army’s random mortars cannot be ignored as well.

    As concerning the role of our leaders and government, I have nothing but contempt. Their harangues, I preserve, confused public understanding of issues more than it clarified it. It shackled and distorted the process of concrete decision-taking. And in large part the press was silent or content with using some fig leaves to hide its nakedness.Recommend

  • Hassan Sadiq
    Nov 7, 2010 - 11:16PM

    FM Radio Station continues for 4 years…….Then we hear western media screaming hoarse that taliban are 70 Km’s from Islamabad…….then we get into agreement with them……..finally we have an operation and clear them out easily enough, logical enough isnt it!!!!!!!!!!!!Recommend

  • Danish
    Nov 8, 2010 - 12:30AM

    @ Anoop

    Read by comment, you’ll get your answer.Recommend

  • Gulalai
    Nov 8, 2010 - 9:12AM

    And you know the main actor behind the F.M radio is still alive, may be he is getting ready for a new mission somewhere else in our country making people fool.Recommend

  • Danish
    Nov 8, 2010 - 4:09PM

    @ Hamayun……you mentioned your self the destruction caused by Army moratars….so how the Army could have started operation when people were there, not willing to leave their homes and having sympathy with TTP. They had to get support of the nation in general and local population in particular…..since TTP had been using them as human shield in, and they had to get the area cleared of civilians to eliminate the collateral damage!!!Recommend

  • Rizwan
    Nov 8, 2010 - 7:00PM

    That was totally a game played to attract eyes and dollars of the international community Both Taliban and Army are responsible for the mayhemRecommend

  • Asad Zia
    Nov 8, 2010 - 9:23PM

    Our radio channel used only for entertainments the DJs and RJs only cried and talk with girls on phon there is no check on him in every Radio Channel either it is government or private, but I thing that these people not aware from the power of radio channel, when the Mulla use it then our government and other FM channel realized that really radio is a very powerful thing.
    If anyone wants to aware from the power of radio so he asked it from the people of Swat and Khyeber Agency. That how Mulana Fazlullah and Mangal Bagh used it.Recommend

  • Hamayun
    Nov 9, 2010 - 10:16PM

    @ Danish, you seem to possess intelligence but why this ostrich approach?Recommend

More in Pakistan