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Our soft power deficit

2016-10-26
I COMMEND Irfan Husain regarding his excellent article on the relative absence of Pakistan soft power in the world. Pakistan is no doubt a mighty military power in the region, something in which the nation takes great pride, but the projection of Pakistan`s cultural, scientific and sporting achievements are sadly lacking.

I fear that without more effective `image management` Pakistan will increasingly adopt a siege mentality, characterised by its enemies as a belligerent state harbouring terrorists and criminals, and abandoned by its erstwhile friends who see it as part of the problem and not the solution.

As a British citizen married to a Pakistani, I have experienced Pakistan first hand over a number of years. The positives are many: warm hospitality, the kindness to strangers, friendship and humour, great food and the guidance sought from the teachings of the Quaid-iAzam, a giant figure in the history of the subcontinent. These are the elements of Pakistan that needs to be projected more in the world.

Conversely and perversely for a people so friendly is the suspicion by your embassies of foreigners wishing to visit Pakistan. As a tourist before marriage, I was never able to obtain anything more than a single entry visa when visiting friends and future family, and that after a long and expensive application process. I used to joke with my friends that only NorthKorea is more difficult to visit. Making Pakistan more welcoming and accessible to visitors would help promote the country.

Soft power can also be projected through flying the flag at major sporting events.

Pakistan has a lot of raw sporting talent which needs to be nurtured and developed through proper funding and facilities. In my youth I remember great Pakistani sportsmen not just in cricket but also in squash and in field hocl(ey, sports in which you now seem to be amiss on the world scene.

I urge Pakistan`s political and military establishment to understand the benefits of soft power, and work to develop these for the benefit of the nation.

DavidKenney Karachi