FOURTEEN telephone calls and 15 meetings: this is part of the six months of activity an American lobbying firm did for Pakistan. The firm is paid $75,000 a month to advance Pakistan’s cause and stem the downhill slide of its image. As a report by our diplomatic correspondent points out, despite the nearly one million dollars given annually to the firm, Pakistan’s image has earned it few admirers. There is a long list of reasons why the American public has developed the kind of view it has about this country. Islamabad’s role in the war on terror, the post-Salala confrontation and the army’s covert relationship with the Haqqani militia have merely contributed to an image that has been negative for quite some time because of Pakistan’s domestic scene bordering on anarchy. It is not a question of an incident here and there; it is decades of political chaos and extremist violence which have given Pakistan the stamp of an abnormal country.

A country’s image is not created overnight, nor can lobbyists succeed in their job when the news emanating from the country shows perpetual chaos, a constant perversion of constitutional and legal processes, sectarian violence, unabashed persecution of women and minorities, massive financial scams, a horrendous level of xenophobic violence that deters foreign tourists and investment, the purported misuse and waste of foreign aid, and above all, a corrupt elite that is perceived to be indifferent to national interests. In such a scenario, lobbyists can do little to earn their keep. A country’s image is built at home, not abroad, for it stems from the kind of message a nation gives to the world by collective behaviour and by its commitment to principles universally shared. The lobbying firm may win over a couple of congressmen or journalists willing to listen, but this will be a poor substitute for what the people of Pakistan themselves and their leaders can and should do to reverse the image. A stable, democratic and peaceful Pakistan will in itself constitute an image that would hardly need lobbying.

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Comments (9)

akhter husain
July 17, 2012 7:29 pm
Very well said that the country's image is built at home not abroad.But a million dollar is peanut as compared to many more millions that are being thrown in the market to defame Pakistan,specially when it serves the strategy already formulated and ulterior motives.Should Pakistan budge under these circumstance?No Pakistan should endure it till the cloudy atmosphere ,prevailing at the moment,disappears.The shabby image is not due to that what we think.
S.A. Khan
July 17, 2012 6:18 pm
I fully agree. The editorial is strong and to the point. I wish the Dawn would continue to take to task the leaders of the country for their utter mismanagement and corruption.
a. salma
July 17, 2012 12:53 pm
Good editorial. No amount of marketing can sell an inherently shoddy product!
Malak Ghulam
July 17, 2012 4:14 pm
Dawn needs to create and launch a Action Items Plan. This Plan needs to help the Citizens of Pakistan do its share of work to Improve the Image of Pakistan Globally. This Plan can evolve as it is acted upon. But somebody needs to BELL THE CAT.
July 17, 2012 3:54 pm
Just only political parties SAR? what about men in khakis or with long back robes? what about media? there is target killing, forced conversions, forced migrations, to tell you few
Asad ullah baig
July 17, 2012 4:17 am
the need is to realize our responsibility at al levels whether it is individual or international level as Pakistani.Its our own fault that we ourselves let them distort our image.we must remove hollowness and face challenges pragmatically...
July 17, 2012 6:32 am
Well written editorial ... succinct and to the point. Pakistan and India are a case study in contrasts in this respect. India during the pre-Manmohan Singh/Narasimha Rao era was lagging behind Pakistan in this respect. But since then it has raced far ahead due to creating the kind of stability at home that this editorial speaks of. Of course that is not to say the situation is perfect or anywhere close. India also has a long way to go, but the main point is that the course is correct, and tangible and measureable progress is made every year. Sadly for Pakistan the same is true, save for the fact that it is in the REVERSE direction! The sooner this course changes the better for Pakistan, and naturally better for the world in general esp its neighbors. But one does not see this happening in the foreseeable future.
July 17, 2012 7:40 am
Very well written but how does on convince our powers to be and our Parliamentarians? Our political parties who do nothing but serve their own individual interests
July 17, 2012 8:28 pm
Nice article -- but how can any article that discusses American perception of Pakistan leave out OBL. BTW how's that Abbottabad Commission report coming?
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