- Present Image of Pakistan
- Building the Image of Pakistan through
3.I. Diplomacy and foreign relations
3.I.i. Extending friendly hand towards neighbour countries
3.I.ii. Regional cooperation
3.II. Media projection
3.II.i. Public diplomacy
3.II.ii. China’s example
3.III. Eradicating domestic issues
3.III.i. Controlling image of a corrupt nation
3.III.ii. Establishing peace for business
3.III.iii. Denying foreign allegations
3.III.iv. Dignity of the govt. institutions
3.III.v. Economic self reliance
3.III.vi. Increasing investment
The world today has much to object on Pakistan. Various tags are attached with this country whenever it is named in any international media or any world forum. Building a strong image of Pakistan is the absolute need of the hour. With these media revolutions an immediacy of the global response stands as the direct outcome of the globalization. This is the world where the apparent image matters a lot, even more than what the reality stands. Only those nations in the world have managed to secure a dignified image in the world who have put concerted effort in their image-building; either it be through media, or diplomacy. Certain issues have greatly tarnished Pakistan’s image internationally that must be of great concern for the govt. public and all the responsible institutions of Pakistan. Pakistan’s media, institutions and army has an important role to play for building a respectable image in the globe. Most importantly the global factors which are developing a conspiracy to tarnish the image of Pakistan as a failed state must be dealt with decisively. In this regard issues at home come first to present a positive image (to the) outside world.
Terrorism’ is our sole identity. We are seen both as a problem and as the key to its solution. Whether we accept it or not, our image and recognition in the community of nations today is only as a breeding ground for religious extremism and militancy and as a country afflicted with a culture of violence and corruption. We are today politically unstable, economically weak and socially fragmented. The image of Pakistan which was once visualized by the founding father of Pakistan seems no more like a dream. ‘Transparency- international’ has put Pakistan on 34th number? while the FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) has been decreased to 83% in the fiscal year 2012. Weak democracy is a political norm and dependence on the foreign aid and debt are not something surprising to the world community. Pakistan is often objected for worst conditions of human rights violation with lack of accountability and transparent legal process are another titles attached to our country’s name? The image of Pakistan as a sovereign state can be achieved with bringing about radical changes at international and local level.
Foreign-policy of a country serves as the apparent character of a nation in front of the other countries. It is with this policy a nation can secure a dignified status on the international forum. For much of our history, Pakistan’s foreign policy agenda has been shaped by a civil- military complex of power reflecting the preferences and interests of our ruling elite and special interest groups. The balance of power between the civil and military bureaucracy kept changing but it was they who invariably controlled our policies on such crucial issues as relations with India, China, US and the Gulf states and the nuclear issues. In many) cases, non-institutional processes by-passing elected leaders and bodies were instrumental in laying down policies that did not stand the test of] time and had to be re-adjusted or reversed altogether (as of during Afghan War in 1980s regarding supporting Taliban) A dignified and respectable image of Pakistan is only possible when the leadership (both civilian and military) helps to formulate a foreign policy through institutional rather than personal approach with greater focus on domestic political, economic and social consolidation.
Building image of a country cannot be done successfully if the international relations of a country are lopsided and based on temporary advantage. Currently the image of Pakistan in the world community is predominantly what the global powers especially the US; publicise it as. History is witness to this fact that international relations of Pakistan were maintained by immediate domestic concerns rather than a dispassionate analysis of international realities. Though Pakistan has remained a key non-NATO ally of the US since 2004 but both countries have seen divergence and convergence of interests. The packages like ‘Enhanced Partnership Act 2009’ (Kerry Lugar Act) reflect the divergent interests and can tarnish Pakistan’s image further. It is necessary for the govt. of Pakistan to have dialogue on equal footings with the US govt. either it be regarding “US Drone Strikes’ or enhancing military operation against militants’ hideouts in Pakistan. Complications may come in the course of action but building a sovereign image is above all the crises.
The image of a country is chiefly reflected in its relations with the closest neighbour. The diplomatic relations between Pakistan and India have always been troubled marked by ‘conflict and confrontation’ even since 1947. The image of Pakistan is always tried to be distorted by India time and again especially after the emergence of militancy in Pakistan. Two major terrorists incidents in India i.e. ‘Samjhota Express Incident’ and ‘Mumbai Attacks (in 2008)’ have become a clever tactic of the Indian govt. to defame Pakistan internationally as a terrorist state, and it has remained successful in doing so. Banning the Jihadi organizations like ‘Lashkar-e-Tayyaba’ in Pakistan did not fulfill the purpose as Pakistan is still confronting the ambivalent views of the international world of being either the ‘source’ or the Victim’ of terrorism. Pakistan govt. must actively, resume the stalled peace process as the negative propaganda of the Indian govt. against Pakistan has deeply harmed Pakistan’s image in the world. It is necessary for Pakistan (to avoid) being a punching bag of India.
The trend of our times is peace and development through regional cooperation. Standing on firm footings in this arena of foreign policy is essential to build a strong image internationally. This is a true of South Asia, East Asia or Central Asia as it is of Europe, Africa and Middle East. Regional cooperation has been an important element of Pakistan’s foreign policy and we started this journey in 1964 when Pakistan, Iran and Turkey, motivated by a regional impulse, established a cooperative mechanism called “Regional Cooperation for Development” or RCD. In 1979 it was revised as Economic Cooperation Organization. Regional cooperation can be an important tool for Pakistan to build its image in the member countries of these organizations such as ECO, OIC and SAARC. Though disparities in the form of govt. and economic inequalities hurdled the very process of mutual understanding but these organizations are an important platform for a country like Pakistan to establish a peaceful and pleasant image in the neighbouring countries though OIC and SAARC have not played a very practical role but ECO served to revive the historical, cultural and emotional links among the people of the region.
“You are what you show (to be)” is the phenomenon of this media- oriented world. Media is the most powerful entity on the earth. It has the power to show ‘innocent’ as ‘guilty’ and ‘guilty’ as ‘innocent’, and that’s the real power. It is media that introduces the distorted or dignified image of a country to the world outside. The countries like China and India are crucially focusing on their media to project their positive image in the world. As far as building a positive image of Pakistan is concerned Pakistan’s media especially private electronic media has not been able to I project a worthy image. Various current affair programmes telecast on private channels such as “Capital Talk”, “JawabDeh”, “Sawal ye he” at times seem to exaggerate the domestic political and social issues in order to create sensation in their audience. This has given a horrible picture of Pakistan about which the world community is already concerned. As long as the state channel PTV (Pakistan Television) stands its role in building image of Pakistan has remained quite docile and passive with narrow scope of communication and lack of international standards of the electronic media.
Building image is taken not only in official terms which refers to interaction of nations at diplomatic level. Today, in this world of enlightenment and individual awareness regarding the international world? Since Pakistan has always favoured congenial relations with the other countries its image could not been uplifted through, public diplomacy. In this century public opinion matters a lot to formulate an image of other nations. A state must keep in mind that its foreign policies should attract the public of other states and only then a state can achieve its desired image. Pakistan can follow the example of the China’s public diplomacy which has earned China a respectable image in the world.
President Hu Jintao said in July 2009,
“The implementation of public diplomacy is directly related to China’s image”.
(The Post October, 2010)
Public diplomacy can also help Pakistan for building a positive image.
Because of the rise of globalization, the states have been using new strategies to promote their world wide-image. The ‘public diplomacy’ is a tool to impress the public of other states and the country like China knows how to do it. According to BBC poll from 2005 which was carried out in 22 nations, 48% of people thought China’s role in world as positive. It is through public diplomacy that China has got this image Pakistan’s govt. can also utilize print and electronic media to make the world aware of its rich culture, efforts for peace, cultural festivals and unique diversity of the geographical conditions. This way the image of Pakistan in the world can improve to a certain extent.
Pakistan’s image has been significantly tarnished by a few domestic, social and political issues. Owing to these menaces Pakistan’s image in the world has been of a poorly governed country with instable democratic institutions. The problem of image-building of Pakistan is not solely an external issue but the crucial hurdles lie within the country. The country has witnessed the military coups for more than 30 years. Frequent dissolution of constitution has rendered Pakistan vulnerable to the image of an ill-governed country which does not respect values of democracy. For strengthening Pakistan’s image the leadership, both sitting in the govt. and in opposition, must consolidate the democratic institutions through culture of tolerance, rule of law and supremacy of the constitution and parliament. As Pakistan is in war state political turmoil would further hamper the image. The martial laws of General Zia in 1979 and of General Musharraf of 1999 are already considered as the dark chapters of the Pakistan’s political history and further political destabilization would be discouraging for building image of Pakistan.
Unbriddled corruption and almost missing accountability process are the tags which are always attached with the image of Pakistan. ‘Corruption Perception Index 2009’ by Transparency International Ranks Pakistan at 139th position out of 180 countries. India’s ranking is much better than that of Pakistan (which is 84). Looking at Human Development Index Report 2009 (issued by UNDP) the situation is even worse. Pakistan ranks at 141 out of 182 countries. One of the biggest defame of the year 2010 was the “Hajj Scam shortly after when the image of Pakistan was still doubtful with reopening of NRO (in 2009). In Hajj Scam FIA (Federal Investigation Agency) arrested 6 officials while exposed NRO(National Reconciliation Ordinance) exposed 8,000 beneficiaries of the political sanctuaries. At this time it is absolutely necessary to establish a transparent accountability system to avoid such kind of defaming incidents again. It will take a few years for Pakistan project its image being a lawful country but the results will worth effort and time span.
What to say of image in the world when the tourists feel insecure of visiting a country. For a few years (especially after 2001) it has been so with Pakistan. The country which was once renowned for its tourist spots of Northern areas is now thought to be the most dangerous zone especially for those visiting from West. It is with this image of a state with high crime rate and incorporated terrorist culture that the foreign investors have rolled back their business from Pakistan. The fiscal year) 2012 witnessed 83% of deficiency in Foreign Investment. According to the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2009-10 between 2002 and April 2010 more than 8,000 terrorist incidents took place in Pakistan resulting in] 8,875 deaths of both civilians as well as personnel’s members of LEAs (Law Enforcing Agencies) and injuries to a further number of 20,675 people. These figures do tell what kind of image Pakistan has regarding terrorism’. The only way to alter this image is to devote all the military and civil efforts to eradicate this growing menace. US interference has further led to global humiliation for Pakistan.
The assassination of Osama Bin Laden, (the Prime suspect of US war on terror) in Abbotabad in May 2011 by US Navy SEAL operation left Pakistan with global embarrassment. The ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) of Pakistan and the govt. Were alleged to provide sanctuary to the militants. Later Pakistan was alleged to have close connections with Haqqani Network. Though Pakistan has been fighting terrorism actually from 2004 but it could, not project its true efforts before the Western world. The govt. of Pakistan must take a clear stand against an uninformed US operation within its territory as the blatant and flagrant violation of the image of Pakistan as a sovereign state. The govt. off Pakistan, the military and other law enforcing institutions reform the current policy of verbally condemning jihadism and actually fighting it in some places but secretly supporting it in other places. Strong projection of peace can crucially help Pakistan to have a desired image. It should access UN’s help claim Pakistan’s contribution and sacrifices for US-led Terror’.
The dignity of the govt.’s institutions is essential for a country to enjoy an elevated image in the world. Most of (the govt.) institutions of Pakistan are defamed for their impractical mechanism or incorporated culture of nepotism and exploitation of powers. Police department is such a govt. institution which is usually labeled with the titles like Thana Culture’. Other objectionable practices of this department provide the world with ample opportunities to defame the image of the country. Last year in August 2010 one of the worst incidents took place at the hand of police official. Two young innocent boys were brutally lynched in Sialkot. In another incident in 2011 a group of foreigners was callously gunned down by the rangers considering them terrorists. Both these events caused huge international condemnation for Pakistan. At this moment when Pakistan is already in the world’s focus, the institutions must give up the malpractices. The accountability of public office holders must be strict in order to improve the present image of Pakistan. Image cannot be built only with fake promises and hollow slogans as the world focuses us with keen eye, the power of media.
“Beggars can’t be choosers” When a nation develops beggary it is left at the disposal of the other countries to (decide) its image. A respectable image and pegging and borrowing don’t happen to coincide. Economic self-reliance is one of the most crucial factors behind building a strong (image). Unfortunately, the economic self-reliance and breaking the begging bowl is mere a political slogan for a common Pakistani, as nearly 50% of our budget is dependent on foreign assistance and loans. We opted for an aid dependent growth in early 60s with a view to accelerating the growth of output. Though refusal to foreign aid is not easy but it is key factor in building a dignified image of Pakistan. Economic self-reliance requires revenue generation from local resources. It is tragic that we seek loans from the IMF to pay back our previous loans and thus have built an image of a ‘chronic beggar’ like Philippines at the international level. Pakistani banks have quietly written off Rs. 50 billion fresh loans outstanding against the borrowers during the last 2 years and at the same time, our total borrowing from. World Bank, Asian Development Bank and IMF reaches $31 billion. Breaking begging bowl would ensure the building of the desired image in the world.
The fiscal year 2012 witnessed 83% decrease in the foreign investment. This is said to be the direct result of the image of Pakistan having high corruption and poor law and order situation. The investment has been reduced to 50.1 million dollar from the US, UK and European Union countries along with other nations. The country from where the investors are running away needs to build a positive image utilizing all its potentialities. With all the labels attached with our image in the world China has remained a strategic economic partner. The Karakoram Highway, Gawadar Port, Chasma nuclear power plants and the JE, Thunder Fighter aircraft are testimony to both the range and substance of the ties. Our failure in being part of China’s prosperity lies in our failure to manage our affairs at home. Our manufacturers, industrial goods and commodities services have all taken a big hit by the violence that afflicts us along with a tarnished image. Strengthening trade relations with the nation like China would attract other nations as well since good trade relations are the proof of good image. Our business community has a substantial role to play in this regard. Creating an investment friendly environment would certainly lead the country to build a better image at least in the world business community. Pakistan’s geo strategic location is an attraction for the landlocked countries.
Art, literature and sports always play a remarkable role in building a praiseworthy image of the nations. Though Pakistan does not lag behind in scholars, writers, artists and sportsmen of the international calibre but their powerful projection lacks. This hinders the world to consider Pakistan rich in arts and sports. It is of great pride for Pakistan that a prestigious foreign policy magazine has ranked Pakistan’s ‘Ahmed Rashid’ at number 51 in a bid to reward the world’s best minds. He was I ranked above Henry Kissinger, Amartya Den, Francis Fukuyama, Gordan Brown and Richard Hoas. Similarly Pakistan got international praise when its sportsmen won some international tournament as of World Cup in 1992, at the same time it was a shock for the image of Pakistan that 3 of its international cricketers got jail imprisonment from ICC
International Cricket Council against ‘spot fixing’ in the recent months of year 2011. This was a great blow for the country as the breeder of world champions. The govt. must establish sports clubs in small towns to encourage and train sportsmen from all the sectors of the country. Sportsmen with true sportsmanship can elevate the image of Pakistan to the zenith of dignity and envy for other nations.
Pakistan’s image has suffered a lot. World history has proved that none other state can present our respectable image but we ourselves. Though a few of the tags associated with our image may stand true but we should project a different image to the world. It is we who are going to project a Pakistan with its true ideology and vision. Making an effort to take Pakistan out of the trap of chronic issues will not do the whole purpose but projection of those efforts is all the more necessary. We will not want the world history to remind our country as the sanctuary for terrorists, a country where culture of tolerance and peace does not exist, a region which is; though resourcefully rich but; unaware of its true potential; a nation which; comprises of more than 60% of youth but; passive to take any initiative in the revolutions. Certainly this is not the true image of Pakistan. We have to build an image which is of a nation who takes pride if its own culture, a country which extends a friendly hand even to the hostile neighbours and a state which respects its leaders. The image of Pakistan has suffered a lot but today we are standing at that point of history where the world revolutions are the talk of every corner of the globe. We should also take an initiative to take Pakistan’s image to a dignified level.