Soft Power Potential of Pakistan: Countering nonconstructive narratives concerning Pakistan’s image abroad | All Round View

Soft Power Potential of Pakistan: Countering nonconstructive narratives concerning Pakistan’s image abroad

Hasnain Khan (All Round View File Photo)

Since decades, globally, Pakistan has been under fired by International community: exporting Jihadist ideology and sponsoring terrorism to neighbor countries by providing support to proxies (Taliban) particularly in Afghanistan and India, alleging serious human rights abuses and extra judicial killing committed by security forces and Intelligence agencies, deplorable sectarian violence and military coup in the country, prolong death of International sports specially absence of international cricket, ranking least competitive country in travel and tourism, lacking of effective national brand and values until now, serious flaws in the country’s economy particularly trade  deficit, debt reduction and absence of FDI, irresponsible and unaccountable media industry and anti state discussion and programs generate negative narratives that further deteriorating the image at abroad, Non-investing in Soft Power and unsystematic issues of brain drain and Pakistani Diaspora are ill-considered challenges to Pakistan have been facing since inception.  To tackle these challenges, Power is considered a driving force in International Politics.

Traditional security remained as a center point during cold war era, but after post-cold war security dynamics moved from traditional security i.e. Military and politics to Non-traditional security i.e. economics, environment etc.  In 1990s, the discussion took up within traditionalist scholars over the ‘definition of security’. The thinkers related to Copenhagen school of thought put emphasis on Non-traditional security for state existence. Meanwhile, the US political thinker who belongs to Liberal school of thought gives the idea of Soft Power. Soft Power, a term first coined by Joseph S. Nye in 1990.  Joseph Nye, the Harvard Academic who well expressed the concept of soft power that the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion or payment.  Nye affirms that seduction is always ingenious than compulsion. In contemporary world, the focus has been shifting from hard to soft power and public diplomacy. After the process of globalization, soft power is used for projection of positive image at abroad; neglecting hard power. He elaborates that soft power derives from culture, political values and foreign policy.

Pakistan’s main opponent India is gaining a regional hegemony and maligns Pakistan by using soft power applications. Historically, India has been initiating through different movements and activities such as Non-Alignment Movement, Hindutva ideology and shining India.  Now, India is following classic strategists Sun Tzu and Kautilya approaches “deception” and “spies” respectively. India is trying to isolate Pakistan from rest of the world for the reason that it is using Kautilya approach of “Isolation” which is important element of India’s foreign policy objectives. By using Mass media, Pakistan can achieve its foreign policy and strategic objectives.  Pakistan should use especially International media by disseminating substantive documentaries on tourism spots in Pakistan, on Sufism, the swat operation, how defeats the menace of TTP and reforms package in Baluchistan.

In fact, tourism is an important component of soft power. Pakistan is one of the world finest tourist destinations for countrywide and internationally. Pakistan tourism industry has potential to create million of jobs for the people and generates revenue for exchequer. Developing the tourism industry will not only boost the economy but also shape constructive narratives within the world. Travelers can acquaintance the historical heritage of oldest civilization; rich for religious tourism, presence of the world highest mountains, rich and varied flora and fauna, mighty Himalayas, Karakorum and Hindu Kush ranges, open meadows, beautiful trees and forests, snow packed peaks, pristine beaches and stunning natural sceneries. Tourism could be proved a potential game changer for the country’s struggling economy. The current government is likely to revive tourism industry is laudable but it is still mandatory substantial improvement in tourism infrastructure and importantly country’s internal security.

Discussing military’s soft power resources, different studies revealed that generally it is understood that constructive role of military in humanitarian crisis and contributing in natural and man-made disasters such as earth quake, tsunami, flood etc. can be  neutralized military’s hard power mis-perception. By effective use of hard power assets in humanitarian catastrophe can be turned to soft power resources. Pakistan’s Army is one of the world’s fourth most skilled and disciplined armies in the world. UN Peace Keeping Mission commonly known as Blue helmet would be proved as an active source of soft power potential of Pakistan. With this, Pakistan can gain respect from regional and International community and build soft Image abroad. By using soft power with public diplomacy Pakistan can projected its narratives across the world. Citing Nye article Think Again: Soft Power in which the author gives the illustration of US military which maintain relations in Middle East and European countries. Moreover, educational exchange programs, military training program and proper military cooperation can boost country soft image.

Concluding the different scholars, studies and experts recommends that Pakistan is rich in Culture diversity, heritage, history, governance, military, politics, vibrant media, art, humanitarian activities and natural resources. It should take a step in a right direction to engage global community and make foreign policy in an effective manner to present its softer image. With this, it should take measures to counter negative narratives regarding Pakistan especially India’s hegemonic attitude and isolation policy to project Pakistan as a resilient nation.

Finally,  I would like to pay special thanks to Mr. Basit for his support in this article. 

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