Salman Yousafzai

PESHAWAR: The district administration of Bajaur tribal district has ordered closure of four radio stations operating in the district.

The Deputy Commissioner Fayaz Sherpao on Wednesday issued a notification in which it was stated that four radio stations would be immediately closed for not having no-objection certificate (NOC) of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Department. It said the radio stations are operating illegally without NOC.

“It has been observed that illegal FM (frequency modulation) stations are functioning in tribal district Bajaur without having NOCs of Information Department,” said the notification.

“These (radio stations) are telecasting biased and politicised programs. Locals are often complaining against these illegal FM stations during meetings and interactions with the undersigned (deputy commissioner),” it added.

However, some people are of the view that the deputy commissioner may not be aware of the rules as private FM radio channels need licence from Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), not NOC.

The four radio stations which have been closed include:

  1. FM Radio Station Shumal at PTV complex, Civil Colony Khar.
  2. FM Radio Station Aman at Khar tehsil.
  3. FM Radio Station Madrassa Tafheezul Quran, Yousaf Abad.
  4. FM Radio Station at Jamia Sanavia at Salfian Colony Sadiq Abad.

“Beside the above, any illegal FM station functioning within the territorial limit of tribal district Bajaur are hereby ordered to be closed with immediate effect, in the best public interest,” said the notification.

Radio Shumal Managing Director Ahmed Salar confirmed the closure of his radio station, saying that the administration sealed it despite having a licence. He said he assured the administration to fulfill all legal requirements. He said the administration should have informed the radio stations earlier about this requirement, but they took the action abruptly without even informing them.

Muhammad Ali, Superintendent Information Department for merged districts, told TNN that they cannot issue licence or NOC to any private radio channel, as this is the domain of Pemra. He said he doesn’t know why the deputy commissioner in Bajaur has asked radio stations to obtain NOC as the Information Department has not received any such orders from the provincial government.

Local journalist Bilal Yasir said the closure of radio stations has brought disappointment for listeners as most people in Bajaur depend on radio broadcasts due to lack of other means of communication. He said the listeners have been deprived of news, entertainment, education and religious programs after closure of these channels. He said the closed radio stations must immediately provide the required NOC to the district administration to restore their broadcasts.

Last month, the elders of different tribes of Wara Mamond tehsil in Bajaur tribal district banned women from making calls to FM radio channels.

The decision about ban on women was taken at a Jirga of tribal elders in Sewai Dam Johar area. In case of violation of the Jirga order, the family of the concerned woman was supposed pay a fine of Rs10,000. The elders argued that decision was taken in greater interest of the area and to protect local culture and traditions.

However, the local elders had to take back their decision after intervention by the district administration, which termed the decisions of such Jirgas illegal. The administration had warned strict action against the Jirga members after which they took back their decision.