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Brand Pakistan – the only brand

Brand Pakistan - the only brand

Prime Minister Imran Khan during his maiden visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasized the need to project positive image of the country. In view of the prevailing global environment Pakistan unfortunately does not have an enviable image among the fraternity of nations, mainly attributable to the phenomenon of terrorism and religious extremism which also pose an existentialist threat to the country.

Diplomacy is no longer traditional, it is now a multi-track process and branding and image building too has become multidimensional and cannot be expected to happen automatically, nor in isolation from what is transpiring at the global level. It is important that Government of Pakistan establish a dedicated Public Policy Division in its Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This was concluded in 2017 by a reputable think tank in Islamabad. Just imagine, what has changed since then. The most unfortunate part of this story is that Pakistan is grossly undervalued and Pakistanis are highly underutilized as compared to their potential. How long Pakistan will suffer in the hands of few people (elected and non-elected). Over the years, Pakistan has not been able to sell its positive image abroad successfully and it is critical that government institutions, the media and think-tanks work together to evaluate why and how Pakistan’s soft image can be enhanced.

Branding Pakistan is relevant because consumers and investors continue to rely heavily on a country images to make their economic decisions. As a matter of fact, brands or images have become a shortcut to a purchasing decision. Effective state branding not only serves to reinforce positives images but also helps to fight negative ones by shaping new images of Pakistan. Therefore, it is equally important that branding of Pakistan becomes a central tool of a country’s competitiveness because having a bad reputation can seriously affect Pakistan’s ability to compete in the global market. Thus, effective branding of Pakistan can be a source of foreign exchange and can also give Pakistan a competitive advantage in the world markets.

Country’s brand image is how a country is perceived which resultantly attracts foreign direct investment and make country’s stature in the international platform. It is important to understand how the image of a country affect the perception of its products (exports), and how the image of a product brand makes a perception of its country. It’s like a chicken and egg situation, country’s image improves the prospects of export of goods and products whereas goods and products bring name to the country. A powerful country brand translates into a better perception of the country, increased exports and inward tourism and foreign investment. A country’s brand stand for a limited number of qualities (power, wealth, sophistication) so there is still plenty of space for countries to brand themselves with qualities such as ‘creativity, music, philosophy, trust, wisdom, challenge, safety and so on. There are various areas where funds are not the only source to take a country’s image to a certain level, for instance, music, literature, fine arts, film making, these are the areas where an intelligent human resource can be noticed globally. Unfortunately, these are also the areas in Pakistan which is attracting most of such people who are not excelling in other fields and producing below par products. Therefore, expecting them to produce a global master piece is not appropriate. Every nation has an image, which can vary across time and across countries to a greater or lesser extent, and this image colors both consumer’s perceptions of a country’s products and services and investor’s perceptions of the country as a place in which to do business.



Pakistan has badly affected by its global image which has never been taken seriously. The image of a country is influenced by the perception of its people, culture, level of economic development, quality of its products, products in which it has a comparative advantage, etc. But unfortunately, none has been taken seriously by the decision makers of Pakistan. Due to this, Pakistan is not classified in Agrade countries. The financial and economic strength is not the only criteria for a country to be regarded as A grade country. How the people of a country carry themselves when they are in another country, how they behave on international issues, and how they react to a crisis are some of the other parameters. Few years back, there was an earthquake in Japan. People didn’t even steal the money from the ATMs, which was quoted everywhere as positive example. Japan was offered billions of dollars as aid just because there was a perception that money would be used properly. Just imagine how much positive attraction they got from this attitude. Pakistan is situated in a highly sensitive geographical location which gives it an edge over many other important countries but unfortunately Pakistan has never realized its strategic importance. This is due to poor leadership, poor judgments of its decision makers and over reaction of its people on other country’s matters. The best policy is mind your own business, but somehow people of this region always like to react aggressively on other country’s matter. Post First World War, Turkey was abandoning the Khalafat in their country but people of this region were having a Khalafat Movement and processions were going on the Mall Road, Lahore, and we read this movement in our social science books in school days. This attitude only makes Pakistan brand weak.

There is no doubt that Pakistan is fighting battles on multiple fronts, be it diplomatic or military, but it doesn’t give excuse to the policy makers not to work on the brand Pakistan. Pakistan has successfully won the war against terrorism, which should be projected in the international media aggressively. There is no harm in spending millions on making media campaign on branding Pakistan globally. Pakistan should keep this in mind that a country image is not a static phenomenon and if policy makers of Pakistan sincerely try, then they can change the international perception of Pakistan in coming years. Somehow, policy makers in Pakistan are not interested in any long term thing and are always inclined towards short term say 2-4 years scenario. This may be due to the fact that they are crazy about their own image than Pakistan’s image and do not want to see their successors getting the credit of something initiated by them. In any case, this shows weak personalities and poor grooming. Pakistan should try to find a solution which should have a long-lasting impact though changing a country’s imagine is always very difficult. But who cares! Long Live Pakistan.

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