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Thursday, 1 November, 2001, 13:43 GMT
Pirate radio rallies pro-Taleban support
Pro-Taleban demonstrators in Pakistan on 24 October
Vocal support for Taleban - now some are ready to fight
By the BBC's Umer Afridi

Pashtun tribesmen in Pakistan's north-western frontiers are using four locally built FM transmitters to recruit fighters for jihad, or holy war, in Afghanistan.

The transmitters are located in the Bajaur valley, 125 km north of the Pakistani capital Islamabad and close to the Afghan border.

Six months ago, a local mullah with some technical expertise built the transmitters to disseminate the teachings of the Koran and the Prophet among the 700,000 devout Pashtun tribesmen who live in the valley.

But after the US attacks on Afghanistan began, the nature of the programmes broadcast via these transmitters changed.

Recruitment role

Reports suggest these FM radio stations have played a pivotal role in organising the tribal people in support of the Taleban.

They are also thought to have aroused passions against Pakistan's official policy of cooperating with the United States.

Since the operations began, religious programmes have been followed by sermons from local clerics encouraging the people to register for jihad and raise funds to help the Taleban.

The stations normally broadcast after early morning and late evening prayers.

However, the clerics running the stations also broadcast special transmissions when they feel the need.

Tribal autonomy

The transmitters are installed in mosques, and each has a range covering a radius of 20 kms.

Pakistani policeman displays multi-barrelled rocket launcher seized on border
Much of the border is awash with weapons
The mullah who built these stations is thought to be in Afghanistan, helping the Taleban build similar equipment.

Not all tribesmen in the valley have radio sets, however.

A neighbour will often connect his own radio to a microphone-and-power amplifier, so that the whole village can listen to these programmes.

It is mandatory in Pakistan to obtain a licence for operating any broadcasting equipment.

But because of the semi-autonomous status of Pakistan's tribal agencies, it seems difficult for local authorities to enforce the law.

See also:

25 Sep 01 | South Asia
The wild border town of Quetta
29 Sep 01 | South Asia
Analysis: Powerful cross-border bonds
10 Oct 01 | South Asia
Analysis: Pakistan's fault lines
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