VoA Urdu expands to 12 1/2 hours to cover Pakistan emergency

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Washington, Nov 10 (UNI) The Voice of America's (VoA) Urdu Service has expanded its radio news broadcasts to 12.5 hours daily from five hours in response to the crisis in Pakistan.

''The Pakistani government has shut down all independent media inside Pakistan,'' said VoA Director Danforth Austin in a press release. ''We find ourselves, along with the BBC, among the only international broadcasters currently heard inside of Pakistan.'' VoA's Urdu Service is now broadcasting an all-news format on radio in response to the Pakistani government's crackdown. VoA's two television affiliates-GEO TV News and Aaj TV-are off the air inside of Pakistan.

However, VoA continues to reach the audience via radio and the Internet.

From Wednesday, VoA Urdu added an additional radio broadcast from 11:30 am to 12 noon Pakistan time to supplement its 7:00 pm to 7:00 am Pakistan time live news and current affairs programming.

Some highlights of coverage include live interviews with Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, two former Prime Ministers of Pakistan, who were guests on the VoA Urdu program Roundtable Discussion, as the news blackout was being imposed in Pakistan.

VOA Urdu also interviewed many Pakistani opposition figures, including Iftekhar Gilani, spokesperson of Benazir Bhutto's party, and religious leaders such as Qazi Hussain Ahmad, along with man-on-the-street reaction in Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta, and Islamabad.


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