Pakistan’s soft image

Reema Shaukat

GENERALLY speaking, different forums often quote Pakistan as a terrorist state. The image of Pakistan was greatly tarnished after 9/11 and Pakistan is still labelled as terrorist producing country by many nations. 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. 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 payments.
It arises from the attractiveness of a country’s culture, political ideals, and policies. When our policies are seen as legitimate in the eyes of others, our soft power is enhanced. Soft power includes propaganda, but is considerably broader. It is much more than image, public relations and ephemeral popularity. It constitutes very real power – an ability to gain objectives. By this definition of Joseph Nye countries need to prop up their soft image. Pakistan is blessed with utmost beauty and serenity but negligence in many sectors make its image as nation of terrorists.
The image of the country has been discoloured due to terrorism mostly propelled by hostile nations not only in our neighbourhood but across the borders too. Irony is that the countries which are actually behind terrorism in Pakistan blame our country and try to throw dust in the eyes of the world. Recent events in Indo Pak relations and particularly on Kashmir issue India seemed to have leverage in diplomatic terms with other countries just because of its image of world’s largest democracy.
Pakistan when earlier could not give matching response to India on political and diplomatic fronts was also stamped as a ‘failed state’ but with a success in eradicating menace of terrorism largely on its soil now gives the world an image of courageous nation who can fight with great will and resolve. A befitting response to India and bringing its true face to United Nations can now help Pakistan to regain its dignified position in global world.
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. 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 spirits and we need to highlight exceptional things about Pakistan.
United Nations in order to create harmony among nations and to learn more about the culture, traditions and environment marks Sept 27 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. The purpose of the day while highlighting the beauty of planet and world we live in gives us thought how humans can interact with each other while promoting tourism and learning about diversity of different countries.
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. 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. Pakistanis as a nation are destined to achieve evolvement in any sector but revolutionary steps by the government can change the lot of this nation.
Rarely in our own media work is done to promote soft image of country. The media must be asked to help build a better, positive Pakistan and to use the power it wields carefully in this regard. The media should also be asked to encourage people to reflect on what they can be proud of as country and as people. This image building exercise cannot be commenced instantaneously. It requires a continued prognosis and 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.

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