In the midst of the controversy regarding the decision to ban YouTube
, RFE/RL President Jeffrey Gedmin visited Pakistan
for five days to discuss media freedom.
Gedmin's trip focused on Radio Mashaal
("torch" in Pashto) -- RFE/RL's new Pashto-language station in the tribal areas along the Afghan-Pakistani border. Gedmin visited the station's Islamabad bureau and discussed Mashaal's mission with religious leaders, members of parliament, military officials, and civil society activists.
"Since the launch of Radio Mashaal in January, the station has gotten off to a superb start," said Gedmin. "We've received a lot of positive feedback from listeners and have already increased our live programming from two to four hours per day."
In Islamabad, Gedmin also met with U.S. government officials. U.S. Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke
has called Radio Mashaal's commitment to professional journalism in the local language, "an important contribution toward peace, reconciliation, and democracy in the region."
Radio Mashaal's correspondents cover domestic and international news with in-depth reports on terrorism, politics, women's issues, and health care, with an emphasis on preventive medicine. The station features regular call-in programs, roundtable discussions and interviews with experts and leaders.More About Radio Mashaal
Radio Mashaal was launched in January 2010 to counter a growing number of Islamic extremist radio stations in Pakistan's tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan. The station currently broadcasts via AM, FM and shortwave for four hours each day and shares a frequency with Voice of America's (VOA) Radio Deewa. Online, Radio Mashaal's website
provides a live stream of its broadcasts.