Pakistan like many Afro-Asian countries such as Iran, Afghanistan and Somalia etc has an image problem for one reason or the other. The present government seems to be extremely enthusiastic of the idea of marketing a soft image of Pakistan at the global level. It is using all kinds of cultural and commercial activities, punctuated with some completely new (for Pakistan) international sporting activities. An international Industrial Expo at Karachi, the Basant festival at Lahore, a marathon race participated by renowned male and female athletes from around the globe and entry into an international motor racing event with a car sporting Pakistani flag are a manifestation of the soft image. And recently President Musharraf launched a website of his own in an effort seemingly to give a more positive face to his own and country’s image. Earlier he came up with an idea of what he termed the ‘Enlightened Moderation’, for both the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds. We have to deal with internal situation 1st. we have to decide what image will be presented to the world. Two critical questions need answers with great care. One has to look external situation and ideological background before answering these questions. The questions are, are we a nation or part of Muslim Ummah? Second thing is that are we conservative or liberal state? It seems that these questions have divided Pakistanis into 2 groups, and govt. has to deal with this situation with great care. While thinking about the causes of our hard image, one can enumerate a number of reasons. On the top is sectarianism and fanaticism which has become scourge of our society, Then is the law and order situation. The frequency of murders, thefts and other such crimes as reported by media is high. However, all this does not suggest that things are out of control. There are good people and good things to report. The Government is alive to the situation. It must be admitted that human societies have their limitations. Complete freedom, full justice and absolute equality are only ideals. Total justice is not humanly possible. Absolute equality is not achievable. Yet man’s experience indicates that solution lies in maximum justice and widespread education. It is by adopting this method that we can create soft image of Pakistan. Man, as created by God and as per his nature, will remain on the right track only if a mental discipline is created by education and if there is fear of law, justice and punishment. If the society is, by and large, governed by justice and fair play, it will enjoy soft image. An empty stomach is the worst advisor and lack of basic needs or non-fulfillment of essential requirements for living will certainly converts a society into group of individuals. It is only through justice and education that we can convert individuals into good citizens.
If our prevailing systems, social, economic, political and administrative ones, function reasonably, efficiently and effectively no harm can come to Pakistan and we will be able to promote soft image of the country. If one gets justice and feels secure, no amount of instigation or temptation is likely to persuade one to resort to criminal activities. Each citizen must have confidence in the system of justice. All negative forces such as terrorism, sectarianism, fanaticism, violence and injustice must be curbed through justice and education. Without justice we cannot imagine a peaceful society and without widespread education, we cannot think of a civilized society. In the absence of justice and with ignorance and illiteracy, we cannot dream of a soft image of the country. Basant and Valentine’s Day celebrations will not help. Both are religiously not justified as well and are un-Islamic in their nature and content, and are against the Qur’anic injunctions. We direly need culture of tolerance in Pakistan but anything against true spirit of Islam has to be discouraged. However, we must continuously and forcefully spread the message of Islam, which is that of peace, tolerance and enlightenment. Islam enjoins upon us to be kind to all and tolerate way of life of others. It was the soft image of Islam, which helped in spreading Islam in the world. For Pakistan our founder M. A. Jinnah pleaded for peace within and peace without. The role of media in building a positive Pakistani Brand is pivotal. A major undertaking of this organization should be to approach the media for support in terms of creating balance and context in the news, ensuring that stories about ordinary Pakistanis doing extraordinary things are profiled. This is the most important part of the campaign as the real stories that emanate from Pakistan should be told with a simple honesty that builds credibility. 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. The organization must develop themes in this regard and encourage the media to use them.
This image building exercise cannot be undertaken overnight. It has to be a sustained projection over a prolonged period. The organization created to do so should be given the resources and the time to conceive, execute, coordinate and monitor this gigantic undertaking.