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  • A resilient nation must make sincere. honest efforts for economic boost and build a productive workforce

Pakistan is a country of 240 million people with half of its population under the age of 20. It has one of the best lands for agri products, with plenty of natural resources and a vibrant and resilient workforce. Since independence, Pakistan has gone through many ups and downs, and anything that can be imagined to happen in any country has already happened in Pakistan, from a dictatorship to democracy, from joining a country through referendum to the break-up of half of the country, and that too, because of a civil war, from wars with the neighbours to terrorism and its successful elimination, from high growth rate to negative growth rate, from giving loans to now the developed counties to borrowing loans from those countries, from winning cricket world cup to facing humiliation in the cricket grounds, the list goes on and on.

There was a time when present day developed countries like South Korea, Malaysia, and China used to consult Pakistan for making their economic policies, and they proudly replicated many of the policies and strategies of Pakistan of that time. Pakistan was once a role model for many nations and professionals who looked up to it, and then comes a time when Pakistan slipped from the hands and now, in 2024, it is struggling to stabilise itself forget about the growth or the development. A lot many lessons are to be learned from this seventy-five years seesaw journey of Pakistan. Why, once a brand Pakistan has so miserably been diluted in all these years, its an unfortunate tale of events.

Like any other country, Pakistan also has a right to progress and to compete with the rest of the world. However, it can only progress if it spends a considerable amount of time and money on grooming its citizens. It is unfortunate that lies, and double standards have been promoted and presented as facts, which has literally divided the whole nation in fragments. Today, Pakistan has many fault lines like ethnic, religious, political, class, gender, cast, which the enemies of Pakistan are exploiting while these fault lines are getting deeper day by day.

If we see Singapore, its leaders have invested time on its people, not only made policies but also implemented those policies, while the rest of the country showed willingness to follow those policies. Today, Singapore is a preferred place to work and live while its people are one of best groomed, caring and focused with no non-sense. Similarly, some attributes are now associated with some nations, which we call them a brand. Today, Japanese people are considered honest, Sri Lankan people are considered soft-spoken, Nigerians are viewed as aggressive, Afghans are perceived as resilient, Germans are considered to have good engineering skills, Indians are viewed as better corporate leaders, Eastern European people are famous for their drinking, Chinese are known for eating every living creature and manufacturing everything in countless quantities etc. Making and thereafter maintaining positive nation branding is a tough job and only visionary leaders can do this, otherwise, any country and nation can slip and thereafter can be associated with not-so-positive or negative characteristics. Therefore, all such attributes represent a country and make them good or bad brand on a world stage.

Impact of fake news

As a matter of fact, the image and perception of people of a country is exceedingly important, especially in the present day world where a news spreads in seconds and one hardly gets the time to clarify a matter. This is good and bad at the same time, unfortunately, with all the technology advancement in IT space, the negative impacts of the internet are more than its positive contribution. Twitter, Facebook, Tiktok and Youtube are now a main source of destabilising a country, damaging the reputation of a country and person and poisoning the people of any country with baseless things.

In coming months, artificial intelligence (AI) is also going to damage society more than contributing something positive and constructive. There are people who make and spread fake news and documents purposely as if they are doing some noble work and on some mission, and those would definitely be getting paid from some known visible and unknown invisible sources. But in all fairness, this fake news business can not be controlled and will keep on creating uncertainty in the society. Even countries like the US and UK are struggling to control fake news and AI based material. Shutting down or slowing down the internet is not the solution. In fact it spreads further negativity in a society if such tactics are applied. Probably the real cause of this uncontrollability is having the luxury of making fake accounts on the social media and hiding their identity thus the operator conceals their identity and can say anything on any topic without fear of being caught or inquired about. This is obviously not the freedom of speech, but surely it is an abuse of freedom of speech. Another reason why nothing has been done so far in this area is that a fake news on an issue suits a country or a stakeholder while that particular fake news doesn’t suit another country or another stakeholder. The world can only be saved from fake news phenomenon if every country works on it selflessly. This fake news creates a perception of a country thus affects the image and brand globally.

Pakistan once established itself as a hardworking, educated and cooperative nation. It even played a meaningful role in the world’s affairs, from supporting global causes to bringing China in the mainstream and establishing its diplomatic relations with the US and making efforts to transfer veto power in the General Assembly of UN to the present day China. The role of Pakistan has gradually moved to the Middle East, be it the port city of Karachi and Dubai, or it is related to any conflict resolution participation. Pakistan once had better, knowledgeable, and honest leaders who were respected because of their knowledge and integrity. Thus, those leaders of Pakistan were in a position to build the reputation of the country. During General Musharraf‘s era, soft image of Pakistan was projected, but it couldn’t last long as it was all fake, resultantly, it didn’t bring the desired results. Importantly, Pakistan’s positive image can only help attract foreign investment which can then bring economic prosperity in the country.


It is important that Pakistan should take afresh start on reviving its image and reputation by focusing on building institutions as a first step. The judiciary in Pakistan is the weakest and most compromised institution. Pakistan can overcome more than half of its current problems and challenges if the judiciary in Pakistan starts working effectively, diligently and proactively. This can not be achieved in the short term but will take years and years to regain the lost international stature and establish a name therefore, the sooner it starts working on it, the better it will be.

As it is said, nation branding is part of diplomacy as well, which is basically a marketing job at a country level. All the great foreign ministers of the world have good command over their expressions, are full of knowledge, impressive speaking skills with pleasant personalities. Wearing the national dress at an international level doesn’t mean anything if the attitude is stiff and rude. In the present day world, half of the economic deals are negotiated and closed by the foreign office of a country, be it dealing with IMF or securing financing from the multilateral or donor agencies. It is just like marketing of a commodity and marketing techniques similar to run a good consumer product company can be applied here as well with some relevant changes. How you market and project your country matters the most.

Country branding refers to a process in which a country can claim a distinct brand positioning in the minds of its citizens, international stakeholders and the global customer. To claim such a position, Pakistan has to invest its resources in coordinating and integrating a multitude of activities. Pakistan has made extra efforts in destroying its reputation, for example, there were better ways to negotiate with the IPPs in the country back in 2021, but Pakistan opted to bulldoze the sovereign-backed implementation agreements, which has now resulted in the shape of virtually zero interest in the power sector from the local or international investors. Similarly, Reko Diq is a prime example of how state of Pakistan was subsequently fined in billions of dollars. Moreover, the privatisation of Pakistan Steel Mills and later all those accusations had resulted in scrapping of the privatisation of Pakistan Steel Mills, consequently Pakistan is incurring billions of cash loss every year since 2005. Pakistan can only come out of its current economic meltdown if it establishes its credibility. That is why now, policymakers are more worried about the continuity of the policies.

Pakistan is strategically located and its presence in one of the most active global zone makes it more relevant. Given the strategic importance of a country’s branding and the benefits it can bring to both the business and the nation, it is important for the country to be very aggressive and proactive about building its country’s brand. For this to happen, businesses and the government need to work hand in hand. Pakistan can follow some of the following measures to rebuild its brand:

Pakistan should work on increasing its exports, which is only possible if it focuses on the SME sector. Pakistan has a negative balance of trade since long where this gap is always been filled from borrowings, both internal and external, which is unsustainable now. That is why Pakistan has been economically struggling in the last few years. Pakistan has traditionally an agri economy, yet it has to import various crops for its domestic usage, be it wheat or cotton. Moreover, Pakistan’s entire industrial focus has always been directly linked with agri products i.e. textile, sugar and urea fertilizer. It is important now to focus on those sectors as well which were not encouraged previously and never got priority. Software development, IT and online solutions, manufacturing industrial products and machinery should be explored and incentives should be given in these sectors. Further, imports of certain items should be discouraged, for example, shampoos, soaps, toothpastes, cosmetics, chocolates etc. There is no justification of importing these items even if it costs less than US$3 billion in a fiscal year. If these items are better manufactured in Pakistan, then it will not only create jobs in Pakistan but will also help generate revenue for the government and will support the country in building a brand globally. A time could come when these items will be of export quality and Pakistan can start exporting these items as well.

Way forward

Pakistan should also make an effort at the governmental level and should promote brands that could boost the country’s national image. In order to improve the image of the country, it is important to have a rule of law in the country and courts should serve the justice along with a robust regulatory environment. Unfortunately, all the regulators of Pakistan lack exercising their authority and when they use it, they get distracted and cross their boundaries and start interfering in other regulator’s domain, thus creating conflicts and disruption. This problem can only be addressed through the rule of law and grooming of the people.

Pakistan should work on the internal front as well to attractive foreign investment, through efforts like building a talented and productive workforce. At the end of the day, it is basically the character building of a nation which matters the most. Unfortunately, Pakistan has produced more crooks than straight persons. For any country keen to build a strong brand, it is important for its workforce to stay competitive.

There is no denying the fact that branding countries has now become a strategic issue. Gone are the days when these things did not matter. If Pakistan wants to get a seat on the global stage, then it has to work on its perception both at local and at the global level. It has to educate its people about what is right and what is presented as right, should have to make laws related to defamation, in particular, so as to control the fake news and, affairs of the government should have to be transparent. The government and its agencies should start sharing information about any matter instead of keeping everything confidential, which is also a reason for spreading of the fake news while this damages the brand and reputation of Pakistan.

As a matter of fact, almost everyone in Pakistan is concerned about the deterioration of society and the dilution of the brand Pakistan, but no one has a clue from where to take afresh start. It is the prime responsibility of the decision makers to take the first step by making transparent and just policies, which has to be followed by the reforms in the judiciary. Pakistan is a resilient nation and it can regain its reputation of a sincere and hardworking nation in a few years’ time, if sincere and honest efforts are made.