Emerging Pakistan — improving Pak soft image | by Sheikh Fakhar-e-Alam


Emerging Pakistan — improving Pak soft image

DURING the recent past, the government of Pakistan has growingly expressed interest in boosting the soft image of Pakistan globally.

The image of the country has been tainted due to terrorist activities, mostly launched by hostile countries in the neighbourhood.

Irony is that the countries which are actually behind terrorism in Pakistan blame Islamabad for terrorism and try to throw dust in the eyes of the world.

Pakistan being the biggest cost-bearer of terrorism, sacrificing above eighty thousand lives, in the past remained unable to deliver its message appropriately to the world.

Efforts have been made in the last few years to redo the image building of Pakistan with a comprehensive plan, promoting Pakistan as a major tourist and investment destination under the project ‘Emerging Pakistan’ initiated by Ministry of Commerce, government of Pakistan.

Emerging Pakistan platform uses hashtag #Emerging Pakistan to showcase the innovative and creative thinking of Pakistanis from art, culture, commerce, outstanding individuals, vibrant ideas, industry sectors and tourism.

‘National branding’ represents a key part of these efforts and seeks to convert soft power resources into an identifiable ‘brand’ to attract foreigners.

This project intends to align the perception of Pakistan with reality. The strategic objective of “Emerging Pakistan” is to establish a compelling image for the country and to position it favourably in order to attract trade, tourism and investment through nation branding.

Emerging Pakistan, is an excellent initiative, which is regularly highlighting and promoting the progressive opportunities available in the world’s most dynamic and robust nation, Pakistan with a huge number of youthful population.

There are many stories from around the globe where companies are carrying the slogan of “Emerging Pakistan” on their own.

Increasingly a country’s reputation and positive image count and play a pivotal role in earning respect and enhancing its diplomatic weight in international affairs.

Sun Tzu, the famous Chinese strategist, said “the supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting”.

Building a positive image as part of a soft power strategy is even more important for developing and smaller countries in order to raise their standing and enhance their outreach in a crowded international environment. Soft power is probably the only effective art of doing that.

The emerging trend of shift from hard to soft power in the developing world is growing faster than anyone has ever expected. When a country’s culture promotes universal values that other nations can readily identify with, it makes them naturally attractive to others.

Media, commerce, government, politics, and even people’s daily social interaction have all changed with technology.

“Emerging Pakistan” project is participating in the development of the country to make Pakistan a socially and economically peaceful place to live.

Government of Pakistan is encouraging the national and international audience to be partners in this campaign and giving them platform to share exciting stories about Pakistan with the world.

Even cricket teams have slowly but surely started coming back to play in Pakistan after a long hiatus. The PSL is being held in the country rather than in Dubai.

This provides a window of opportunity for Pakistan to change negative perceptions. All developed countries are now particularly paying attention towards building their soft power.

UK, US, China, Russia and India; all big states are concentrating towards soft power since long along with hard power. Pakistan needs to spot on its soft power seriously.

Unfortunately, terrorism, feeble tourism industry and weak economy have somehow tarnished the soft image of the country worldwide. But now Pakistan is promoting its soft image through media, tourism, literature, art and painting, information technology, music and theatre.

The country is not a strictly no-go destination for foreigners as it previously was. Pakistan has unlimited things which can be used to offset the dark shadow of the country.

The lacking object was the national focus on soft power which is now initiated through projects like “Emerging Pakistan” which will help to portray Pakistan in a positive way on the global level.

Through this platform, the Government is interacting with importers, investors, individuals, tourists and corporations who are concerned in order to enhance the global soft image of Pakistan. On the foreign policy front, things are apparently looking up. Pakistan is internationally not as isolated as it was perhaps a decade ago.

Prime Minister Pakistan should also focus on few areas in order to promote soft image of the country like improving our ability to attract international students, or facilitate exchanges, as it is a powerful tool of public diplomacy.

Pakistan to increase its foreign policy resources, work actively on global diplomatic footprint, and to contribute to the international community. Government to establish modern health and education cities in all provinces.

Government to focus on structural economic attributes like starting a business, decreasing corruption levels, and capacity for innovation.

Measures to be taken by the government so as to enhance international tourist arrivals, music industry exports, technological advancements and even international sporting success.

The government has to proliferate its attractive model of governance and how effectively it has delivered positive outcomes for its citizens.

Government has to devise a comprehensive plan and senior team members of PM should be tasked to strictly monitor the implementation process.
—The writer is MS degree holder in journalism, an academic researcher & media analyst.