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Pakistan-India radio war

September 25, 2018

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THE information minister addressing the media on Sept 20 said that Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation headquarters in Islamabad had a number of dead properties which will be utilised for generating funds.

He added, “Radio Pakistan building was built in the 1950s when large transmitters were required. However, now radio could easily be run from one room and doesn’t require a huge land. Pakistan needs research institutes instead of all this.”

Our universities dish out jejune research papers that are nothing short of cut-paste products. The world’s most influential research papers have been produced by universities whose scholars sit and work in claustrophobically small cubicles. Besides, news and propaganda mold public opinions.

Radio Pakistan used to publish Radio Monitoring Reports — a translation of news from radio stations around the world. It had three sections — news, views and comments.

In my 70 years of life, I came across few reporters or journalists who understand the difference between the three genres. Shorn of embellishments, the radio news are a pure goldmine of information.

The information minister wants to spend millions on Pakistan TV, which should be self-supporting through commercial appeal. Its chiefs have faced courts’ ire for their indulgence in financial impropriety (MDs paid Rs 1.5 million to two million rupees a month). Let the minister attend to Radio Pakistan staff who have not been paid their salaries for several months.

Radio Pakistan pinches India so much that it is planning to set up 88 radio stations to counter Radio Pakistan’s influence in border areas. New stations include a 10-KW FM station in Green Ridge (Uri sector), Himbotinga (Kargil), Patnitop, Udhampur, Naushera, and replacement in Srinagar, Jammu, Bhadarwah (6 KW) and Chauntan Hill (20KW) in Rajasthan.

India’s The Tribune in its Sept 18 issue reported: “At present, a 20-KW FM transmitter installed in the Punjab border district of Fazilka on 100.8 MHz is already operational through Jalandhar centre, but it misses its target, apparently due to its limitation to reach across the border clearly.

India wants to launch Des Punjab for border belt. This channel will be an answer to Radio Pakistan for its Punjabi Darbar programme, which is received in the Indian territory too.”

How powerful is propaganda? In the USA, the Kreel Committee converted a pacifist American populace into an anti-German entity in just six months (Noam Chomsky, Media: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda).

Lest our minister gullibly harm national security, he should re-think the issue.

Ahmed Jamil Mirza

Hyderabad

Published in Dawn, September 25th, 2018