Promote Tourism to Project Soft Power Pakistan needs to cash in on the opportunity


Promote Tourism to Project Soft Power

Pakistan needs to cash in on the opportunity

Mian Majid Ali Afzal

Hard power was once considered one of the basic tools of foreign policy projection in the world.  However, with the rise of globalization and information revolution in post-Cold War era, the term “soft power” started gaining momentum. The term was popularized by a noted American political scientist Joseph Samuel Nye Jr. in his 1990 book “Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power.” In this book he wrote: “when one country gets other countries to want what it wants might be called co-optive or soft power in contrast with the hard or command power of ordering others to do what it wants”.

In the context of Pakistan, the elements of national power, e.g. geographic location, military, nuclear power, diplomacy, governance and leadership, resilience, agriculture and natural resources, population, religion, cultural diversity, information technology, etc. have great potential for growth and it these can massively supplement the efforts to project its softer image.

In spite of having rich cultural and historical heritage, Pakistan couldn’t project its soft image to the outer world as hardly any attention was given to building the image of the nation and the country. So, to counter negative narratives about it, the country should make an apt use of soft power which means it should make all-out efforts to shape others’ thoughts and preferences through appeal and attraction.brand-finance-soft-power-summit-top-10

Being a multi-cultural society, Pakistan has unique, diverse and appealing cultures. It also boasts to have rich history in the form of the world’s oldest civilisations–Gandhara and Indus Valley (Mohenjo Daro). This diversity can help the country develop, with the help of media, its softer image.

Tourism is another important feature of Pakistan. Tourist places stretch from the mighty Karakoram in the North to the Indus valley civilization in the South. Moreover, Pakistan is home to numerous peaks having an altitude of 7,000 metres or more. Allah Almighty has gifted the country with a rich and varied flora and fauna. Mighty Himalayas, Karakoram and the Hindukush ranges, with their alpine meadows and a permanent snow line, coniferous forests of the hills running down to the sub-mountainous areas, the vast Indus plain merging into the great desert, the coastline and wetlands can hold any tourist breathlessly awe-inspired.

The tourism industry goes with brand and reputation. India initiated national tourism brand as    ‘Incredible India’ and Malaysia projected itself as ‘Malaysia Truly Asia’ to capture the attention of millions of tourists. Pakistan can learn a lot from them and adopt their policies; of course, after some adjustments and alterations according to its own socio-economic and religious setup.

In this context, following points are worth consideration of authorities:

A national tourism policy should be implemented by integrating all the provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

The government should sign public-private joint ventures to create an enabling environment.

A tourism board should also be established which included public, private and foreign partners.

To promote domestic tourism, the government should standardize the facilities provided to local visitors. Furthermore, proper monitoring in terms of check and balance on quarterly or annually basis will ensure hotels maintain their quality of services.

For the promotion of foreign tourism, a branding strategy is an urgent need as it will ultimately create a soft image of Pakistan.

Pakistan has great opportunity to develop its 1,046km-long coastline in the south by creating resorts and hotels.

In order to implement such a grand scheme so that we can portray a softer image of Pakistan in tourism field, all organs of the state i.e. legislature, executive and the judiciary should be on the same page.

The writer is serving as a Strategic & Administrative Adviser at CPEC based project in Islamabad. He is also a member of Anti-Drug Task Force Punjab. He can be reached at: 


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