Wednesday, August 31, 2016

AIR to now broadcast programs in Balochi language; Radio Jammu already accessible in PoK 

 In what could be seen as a fresh attempt to needle Pakistan, India has reportedly given a go-ahead to All India Radio (AIR) to broadcast programmes in Balochi language. According to ANI, the government has given its nod to the state-owned radio broadcaster to include Balochi language among the 14 foreign languages that it currently broadcasts in. 

 All India Radio broadcasts daily in 57 transmissions with almost 72 hours covering over 108 countries in 27 languages, out of which 15 are foreign and 12 Indian. The foreign languages include Arabic, Balochi, Burmese, Chinese, Dari, French, Indonesian, Persian, Pushtu, Russian, Sinhala, Swahili, Thai, Tibetan and English, according to the AIR website. The decision is being seen against the backdrop of the recent remarks made by Prime Minister Modi on Pakistan army's alleged human rights violations in the Balochistan region. 

Following India's allegations that Pakistan was fomenting trouble in the Valley by pouring in funds and infiltrators in the Valley, the BJP-led Modi government in a very public and dramatise volte-face, raked up the Balochistan issue, including a mention in the Prime Minister's Independence-Day speech. Balochistan is Pakistan's soft underbelly just Kashmir is India's Achilles heel. But Pakistan's largest province has not received as much international attention as Kashmir mostly because, the region – often described as a "black hole"– is "no-go area" for journalists, unlike Kashmir. 

Perhaps this is why India's new move is sure to cause political earthquake across its rival neighbour. Ever since Modi's reference to the restive region in the neighbouring nation, Pakistan and even China have responded strongly. Several Balochi leaders voiced their support for India's outreach too, but Pakistan quelled their voices as many were arrested for openly supporting the Indian PM's speech. Meanwhile, it is interesting to note that the programs aired in the Jammu and Kashmir region are available in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) and are widely popular, according to The Greater Kashmir. 

As Union Minister of State Jitendra Singh told the daily, the programs aired by AIR are flawlessly audible in the PoK region and beyond (areas of Punjab, Pakistan, including Lahore). The report also states that the government of India is planning to set up a radio station in Udhampur in the Valley and the transmitters at Bhanderwah stations and Patnitop stations are in the process of upgradation. The current range of programs transmitted from Radio Jammu is 300 km aerial radius and beyond, which translates into considerable territorial distance into Pakistan, the minister told The Greater Kashmir.

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