During the ongoing conflict in Fata and KPK, illegal FM stations were arbitrarily used by Taliban leaders for their propaganda. Once again Maulvi Faqir Muhammad, prominent TTP leader from the restive Bajaur Agency has resorted to same tactic of keeping himself alive in the public. He has re-appeared through his vilifed FM radio broadcasts in his hometown. He has hurled grave life threats to those who are currently backing security forces and the political administration to blot out TTP and other affiliated militant groups from the region. He has also threatened those who have formed armed tribal Lashkers on the directives of the government and the security forces in Salarzai and Mamoond Tehsils of Bajaur Agency, local media sources informed.
It is worth mentioning here that security forces had launched a full-fledged military offensive against the terrorists and extremists elements in Bajaur agency last year, which is situated on the border with Kunar, an Afghan province, to flush out the terrorists and dismantle their strong network. Last year the forces brought down the FM radio broadcasts of the banned TTP to undermine their network and its horrible psychological affects. Security forces later announced that they have cleared the restless region of Bajaur agency from all militants. There were also reports that TTP affiliated groups and their vocal leader Maulvi Faqir Muhammad had fled the area and found hideouts in the adjacent Kunar province from where they have time and again carried out subversive activities to sabotage the fragile peaceful environment of the area so that they could once again prevail their dominance in the region to terrorize the tribesmen.
Bajaur agency was the first tribal region where the banned terrorists group of TTP under the leadership of Maulvi Faqir Muhammad had begun the broadcasts through the illegal FM radio station, which proved very useful for the militants to spread terror and strengthen their network. Later on, all the militants groups established their own illegal FM radio stations in all over the Fata to propagandize their views based on Jihad to the masses at large. This was a very helpful strategy to influence the masses in tribal regions because a vast majority of the tribal people in Fata has no access to Internet and mobile and even electricity is available. In the far-flung tribal areas, radios, particularly FM radios of the terrorists groups played a great role to attract the masses to their messages and views to motivate the jobless youngsters to join their ranks to fight inside Pakistan and across the border against the US led ISAF forces. That is why in a short span of time the militants conveyed their actual message not only to the people of Fata but also across the globe. It was also very easy for tribal journalists to cover and record their broadcasts and voices based on their views for their respective media groups. People in Fata would be very attentive to the illegal FM broadcasts by TTP, Lashker-e-Islam, Ansarul Islam etc to know about their nefarious designs and future plans.
Following the TTP Bajaur FM radio broadcast, Mufti Munir Shakir, a disputed religious cleric, who had been forced out of Kurram agency, started sermonizing through illegal FM radio station from Qamber Khel area of Bara sub-division of Khyber agency to inculcate his particular sectarian thoughts based on extremism. Later the Bara based FM radio station was handed over to the chief of Lashker e Islam to use it for his factional propaganda under the garb of religious speeches and advices to stop people from vices and to convince them to adopt every virtue. This development happened after the bloody clashes between the Pir Saif ur Rehman, from Barevli school of thought, and Mufti Munir Shakir who led the Deobandi sect. However, it resulted in the expulsion of both of these leaders from Bara agency by a jirga led by PA Khyber agency Fida Wazir. Some people believed that political agent bribed jirga members to reach a consensus to expel both the confronting religious clerics to end the conflict. Things took sharp turn when LI chief successfully achieved people sympathies through the illegal FM radio broadcast. Meanwhile the political administration was strong enough in taking timely actions against these illegal radio stations both in Khyber agency and Bajaur agency.
Many other low profile militant leaders like Maulvi Hazrat Nabi also launched his FM radio from Landikotal, which has been set on the top of his mosque on the main Pak-Afghan highway near Landikotal bazaar. Ansaurl Islam chief Mehboob Ul Haq had also started delivering speeches on his own FM radio from the mountainous Tirrah Valley, which is reportedly still in progress. This is right to say that political administration and security forces dismantled and ended all the illegal FM radios throughout Fata, but it was quite late because the extremists had already achieved their primary goal. Even currently LI missing chief Mangal Bagh addresses people en mass through his FM radio from the far off mountains and unknown locations in Tirrah Valley. However, he has lost his past glory because he has been exposed to the masses and got weakened by Zakha Khel tribe Lashker and security forces. This is also a fact that a lot of people throughout the Fata have bought radio sets to hear the new warnings and messages of the militant leaders. Tribal journalists would also wander with radio sets to be updated on the latest activities of the militants. The speakers would also summon the accused and suspected persons to their private illicit courts where they would arbitrarily decide the disputes, which were running parallel to that of political administration. Religious anthems and “Naats” would precede the sermons and lectures of the extremist militants on the FM radios. Later the government also decided to counter the illegal FM radios of militants by starting official FM radio broadcasting from Bajaur Khar town, Jamrud and Wana, which had quickly got popularity among the tribal masses. The official FM radios would broadcast news bulletin, political analysis, tribal cultural programs and songs, which undermined the influence of illegal FM radios to much extent. The US government also started radio projects such as Dewa and Mashall, which have attracted large number of listeners throughout the KPK and Fata. This led to the creation of radio journalism both in KPK and Fata and now we see there are quite a good number of tribal journalists who are working with local, national and international radios to keep the world updated on the current happenings both in Fata/KPK.
Terrorists and their supporters in Pakistan have been utilizing these illegal FM radio stations to popularize their views and designs and incite violence against the government and its touts. Many religious scholars also used these illegal FM radio stations for disseminating their sectarian religious versions to belittle the opponents’ religious thoughts. Faqir Muhammad has been very popular among the tribal masses due to his regular speeches on his FM radio in Bajaur. The forces launched a mighty offensive against the militants in Bajaur and succeeded to push them out of agency areas. Faqir Muhammad and his close colleagues along with their fighters reportedly took shelter in the nearby Kunar province of Afghanistan where the US forces have been said to have decreased their strength. As a result, the militants have adopted another strategy to assault the Pak army deployed on the border and target the armed tribal Lashkers from across the Afghan border. Kunar and the other bordering areas of Afghanistan are now frequently used by militants against the Pakistani forces, para military forces and the peace lashkers. Such attacks have recently taken place in Upper Dir, Bajaur and Angoor Adha of South Waziristn Agency, which the government of Pakistan has strongly not only condemned but also retaliated.
The TTP leader Maulvi Faqir Muhammad has publicly claimed responsibility for these attacks from across the border, saying it was their new strategy, voice of Shariath FM radio broadcast his voice, adding they would continue their war against the US led NATO forces in Afghanistan. He has also asserted through his FM radio that their suiciders were more dangerous than nuclear bombs. It is interesting to note that “Voice of Shariath” transmissions can be clearly heard in various parts of Khyber agency and other areas on the border. Maulvi Faqir and his aides live transmissions can be heard for two and a half hours every day beginning at 8pm. Their main focus is to inspire the people for the holy war Jihad against the US led forces in Afghanistan and against the Pakistani forces. Faqir also invites other insurgency related speakers to express their views through his FM radio station to attract the people to accept their appeals and join the lines of the fighters to push out the US forces from Afghanistan to make it an independent and sovereign Islam State. He once warned the pro-government tribal elders to keep away and abandon support of the government and forces or face the music as the TTP network, he said, was still intact. The TTP Bajaur has attacked the volunteers of the armed lashkers in Bajaur and targeted their tribal elders to scare them to relinquish their struggle against the militants, but so far they have not succeeded to crush the tribal peace lashkers as the they are also resolute to create peace at any cost though they have shed blood of their nears and dears for this great goal. Shortly and frankly speaking, the illicit FM radios of the militants have adversely caused psychological maladies to keep on their war against the US led forces and the Pakistan being an ally of the NATO in the war on terror.