PAKISTAN is a blessed country to have variety of seasons. For sure its geographical location is an added advantage because of the fact that in the same country there are mountains, plateaus, deserts and diverse landscapes. Generally speaking, different forums are used to quote Pakistan as a terrorist state. The image of Pakistan was greatly tarnished after 9/11 and Pakistan is still labelled as dangerous place by many states. Our country went through a long journey of defeating its enemy in the form of terrorism. Pakistan is now quoted as a country of peace lovers and peace builders as they have strived hard to overthrow their adversaries without any demoralization. There is a need to promote soft image of Pakistan, whereas many does not know value of soft power it is important to know that the term ‘soft power’ was coined in 1990 by Professor Joseph Nye to explain how modern states can use positive attraction and persuasion to achieve global influence.
He defined that soft power is the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion or payment. It arises from the attractiveness of a country’s culture, political ideals and policies. By this definition of Joseph Nye countries need to prop up their soft image. Experts of diplomacy and international relations suggest that many factors contribute in promoting a nation’s soft image to the rest of the world. Not only country’s diplomatic relations with other states and politics matter but overall growth in economy, investment, tourism, standard of education, provision of quality medical facilities to its people measure soft power. It is often highlighted that if a country has good justice system, then it also helps in improving its soft image. Promotion of cultural, social and commercial activities also help in casting real contours of image. Pakistan is blessed with utmost beauty and serenity but negligence in many sectors and particularly development sector makes its image bad. In Pakistan several organizations are working day and night to promote soft image of country through cultural events, expos, exhibitions, arts and crafts activities, sports festivals and many other such occasions have significant impact in bringing not only investments in Pakistan but gives audience an impact of peaceful lively nation. Undoubtedly, we are the nation with great spirit and we need to highlight exceptional things about Pakistan. Pakistan excessively needs to focus on promoting tourism as terrorism within the country has very much diminished and tourists can come and go back safely while carrying back positive image about Pakistan.
Our country’s each province has its own identity and beauty and one of the nation in the world which is blessed simultaneously with sea, desert, mountains, glaciers and lush grasslands. Need of the hour is that together we should promote culture of harmony and tourism in country so that it can excel economically and socially. Particularly, the northern areas carry immense beauty in themselves and many are unexplored even. Though in the past, a few areas were developed but still there are many unexplored areas in Dir, Swat, Chitral and adjacent areas which are looking towards authorities for development and exploration of resources. We have seen that India promotes its soft image under the notion of Incredible India while focusing more on tourism and attracting investors and wickedly sideways its human rights violations not only in India but in Kashmir too.
The United Nations, in order to create harmony among nations and to learn more about the culture, traditions and environment, every year marks 27 September as the World Tourism Day. This Day is celebrated to foster awareness among the international community about importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value. According to UN statistics over the past six decades, tourism has experienced continued expansion and diversification and it has become one of the fastest growing and most important economic sectors in the world, benefiting destinations and communities worldwide. International tourist arrivals worldwide have grown from 25 million in 1950 to nearly 1.3 billion today. Similarly, international tourism revenues earned by destinations around the world have grown from 2 billion US dollars in 1950 to 1260 trillion in 2015.
The sector represents an estimated 10% of the world’s GDP and 1 in 10 jobs globally. Tourism’s role in job creation is often undervalued. This is despite the fact that tourism generates 10% of world jobs and is included in SDG-8 for its potential to create decent work. That is why this year UN wants to mark this Day with this vision that new policies are needed to maximize tourism’s potential to create more and better jobs, especially for women and youth and it must reflect and incorporate ongoing advances in technology along with addressing the current mismatch between tourism skills that are taught and those that tourism employers need. Therefore, this year World Tourism Day will be a celebration on the topic ‘Tourism and Jobs: a better future for all.’
Pakistanis, as a nation, are destined to achieve evolvement in any sector but revolutionary steps by the government can bring great change along with this comes the responsibility of the nation too, to keep the maintenance of developed areas particularly keeping the environment clean in all vicinities so that tourists carry a better image of Pakistan. Media must be asked to help build a better, positive Pakistan and to use the power it wields carefully in this regard. This image building exercise cannot be commenced instantaneously as it requires a continued prognosis but positive projection for a long period of time will be fruitful in this regard. We all should pledge to make our Pakistan incredible and promote its soft image in every sector.
— The writer works for Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, a think-tank based in Islamabad.