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 have been 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 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 do 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 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 and particularly development sector makes its image bad. In the past and still 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.
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 the country through cultural events, expos, exhibitions, arts and crafts activities, sports festivals and many other such occasions have significant impact in bringing not only investment to 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. 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, deserts, 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. One such area is Kumrat Valley in District Dir Upper which is gifted with dense forests and natural beauties. Recent provincial government has taken an initiative to develop this valley for tourism but some influential in the area are trying to create controversy and dispute on purchase of land from locals for the purpose for development of parks and resorts.
Fabricated stories on social media are tarnishing image for tourism from safety point of view and it will be difficult to work for development of tourism if issues of land grabbing or corruption pop up. There is a need that media should portray true picture and work on creating soft image of Pakistan, which is rarely touched upon. Likewise, the recent snowfall in Galiyat and other mountainous areas has attracted a number of tourists from all over Pakistan but the lack of appropriate facilities in terms of road maintenance, provision of fuel, coal, gas, electricity and other basic requirements cause inconvenience and trouble to the people. Nonetheless, Pakistanis, as a nation, are destined to achieve evolvement in any sector but revolutionary steps by the government can bring change. 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.