Re-Branding a Failing State – Part 2


(Continued from:

The campaign to morph the current ‘Dark-Ages’ perception into a masterpiece of the ‘Renaissance’ will take more than the combined efforts and creativity of the great artists of that era. First and foremost, it is not something which will happen overnight; a huge amount of time will be needed to change mind-sets. A massive amount of funding will be needed to sustain the campaign consistently for a long period of time. Above all else, a lot of careful planning will have to be carried out to decide on the image we want to promote and the roadmap needed to achieve the goal. A centralized PR Organization will play a pivotal role in this development.

Pakistan came into existence in 1947, but sadly, it has never had a centralized public relations department. America in contrast set up its very first PR committee during WW1 and later founded The United States Information Agency (USIA) in 1953 to act as a primary agent in shaping America’s image abroad. The first step in re-branding is the urgent need to set up a similar nationally funded PR Organization which will allow for a more comprehensive and central PR effort at home and abroad. The organization would need to chalk out long-term plans to curb the negativity surrounding the country and devise campaigns to improve relations with international policy makers. The objectives should be:

  • Advance political objectives of the government
  • Present a better image to the world at large
  • Eradicate stereotypes associated with the country, its citizens and the military
  • Help the government in modifying laws and regulations inhibiting Pakistan’s activities abroad

Once a centralized PR organization comes into the fray, there are numerous steps that it can take to put the objectives in motion. The first basic step of such a PR organization would be to appoint one Public Relations Officer (PRO) at every Pakistani embassy across the globe. The PRO will disseminate important information to the media of that country and work in tandem with the Pakistani Ambassador to improve relations with government officials. The PRO should be an expert in crisis management if the need arises in formulating strategies to counter any negativity in the said country regarding Pakistan.

The PR organization can go a step further and hire agencies in key strategic countries i.e. America, India, Afghanistan and China. A local agency will work towards establishing better government relations, assist in local communications with stakeholders, and advancing Pakistan’s commercial interests in the said country. A local agency shall formulate better strategies due to the vast local resources at their disposal and shall draw help from the fact that they would be the ones to know best the culture of the public and the best media for putting forward the Pakistani agenda.

(To be continued.)


Re-branding a Failing State


Countless daily killings, an un-controllable crime rate, a vicious cycle of corruption, increasing un-employment, a failing economy and a deteriorating international image; yes, I am talking about Pakistan, the land of the pure. Irrespective of the problems mentioned, we have a throng of politicians arguing over the dying embers of this country, which has become synonymous with the word ‘Terrorism’ in the West. If Pakistan was a company, its stock in the market would have plummeted, it would have been facing a long list of damaging lawsuits and probably would have filed for bankruptcy by now. But wait, what if I say that all is not lost yet? What if I say that together we can haul the Titanic out of the freezing waters, set it back together and put on a show for the world at large? Yes, it is possible.

Irrespective of the harsh words used above, Pakistan is a country draped in heavenly beauty up North, bustling cities rich with a mixture of vibrant customs, loving people, a highly skilled and intellectual youth and is also the first Muslim nuclear power. The country has a rich history dating back thousands of years and is the most strategically important part of South Asia with the Khyber Pass providing a route to Afghanistan and the Karakorum Highway making communication and trade with China easier. Pakistan’s coastline is in a central position for trading by sea both with South Asia and beyond and with the Middle East to the west. In addition, some of the air routes between west and east pass through Pakistan because of its central position. The country is not only famous in the international sporting circles for its long list of demigods but has also produced a throng of famous musicians and artists with an international fan following. This is the Pakistan which needs to be promoted and presented to the world. PR campaigns would need to be initiated in western countries especially America and UK to promote Pakistan’s lighter side; its cultural diversity, natural beauty, rich history, arts and customs.

At the moment, there is no brand called ‘Pakistan’. What we do have are disjointed, largely negative, fragments of our country’s attributes, which form the basis of the world’s judgment. Recent geopolitical events and continuous terrorist activities have seen our image take huge hits abroad. Sadly, these negative images are ingrained in our own minds as well, hence making our task nothing short of a herculean effort. With the global media filled daily with only gloom and despair regarding Pakistan and politicians near home and afar showing growing displeasure over the state of things, it’s clear that our country could use expert public relations help right about now. Pakistan desperately needs a PR campaign that is comprehensive and persuasive and will work to limit such mind-set and over time change the perception about us completely. Countries across the world use professional help in buffing their images. India, America, Indonesia and even Russia have used effective PR campaigns to tell their side of the story to the world…

(to be continued)

A State for the Dogs


Do I start off by ranting how the country is going to the dogs? How it is destined to be doomed? How the worshipped politicians are nothing more than blood sucking vampires? Well, I just did, so my question seems irrelevant but the anger behind it isn’t. Born at a time when economic stability was on the horizon, when the country was finally making in-roads to the rest of the world; I open my eyes 27 years later to see a country which has fallen way behind its goals and ideology, ridiculed by the world at large, and left with no identity of its own. I am a citizen of a country which is seemingly being run by the dogs for the dogs.

Flip through the news channels and you only find gloom. It is like the country has a weather forecast of dark clouds with a very bleak chance of sunshine. All day long the newscasters report nothing but depressing pieces. Every news channel needs to have a ‘watch at your own risk’ warning label, because it is nothing sort of a health and emotional risk. But I still find people who think the future is bright; they walk amongst us, they are my friends and I am sure most of you reading this piece – you are one of those people too. I ask you, how do you all do it? How can you all remain so blatantly positive in the face of such extreme murkiness ?

We are a country which has a daily murder count in the double digits. We probably have the most varied death causes in all of Asia; political rifts, mobile-snatching, Karo-Kari, acts of terrorism, drone attacks, poverty, dengue, and God knows how many other means of dying if you live in this country. I remember the shooting incident in Utoya, Norway in 2011 which claimed 84 PRECIOUS lives. Caps-locking precious because that is what they were to the residents of Norway and their leaders. Lives which were meant to be celebrated, their deaths caused extreme pain and depression for the entire nation. Now compare that to our country and you shall understand my conundurum. People die here daily due to controllable circumstances, and yet, we as citizens, as their brethren, feel no remorse, no anger, and to top it all off, we continue to live our lives like we do; most of us sitting behind a desk typing away on a computer.

Nothing probably can save us now. Not the seasonal ‘Azadi‘ marches or crazy clerics who wake up one day abroad to realize that they too have a stake in Pakistani politics. Because the leaders most of us follow and worship are nothing but men waiting for an opportunity to malign the country further. Together, the rulers and the opposition, continue to make a mockery out of us all, making us believe that the country is on route to prosperity while the only ones prospering are them lot. I can not list all the scandals out there that prove my point. The scandals come, the Chief Justice takes suo moto notice, cases open up, and to our disbelief the corrupt still walk away or find ways to stall the verdicts. A vicious cycle of tom-foolery, nothing more. This country is not going to the dogs, sadly, it is already lying there, waiting to be eaten by the nasty beasts, and even they might not like to take a bite out of us.

Khan He?


Here I am, standing amongst some very colorful people, straining my neck and shoving a few to get a better view. The place is buzzing with noise and anticipation. I try my best not to lose sight of my friends, who like me are doing all they can to find a spot with a better view. After a few “excuse mes” and a colorful exchange of words, I finally find a good enough spot. Satisfied with the view, I call my friends over, and we stand with our necks at approximately thirty degrees to the ground, and gaze at the stage which seems to hover above the sea of green, like a ship carrying some very important cargo. Yes, I am in the midst of the ‘Tsunami’. The word now a days only synonymous with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI); the party promising a change, the party promising an end to the machinery of corruption, the party promising to empower the youth. Which might just be the reason why I can see a lot of young people around me, mostly in their early 20s, all carrying either the flag of the nation or the party and wearing colorful Imran Khan slogan tees. The energy around me is fascinating, and it scintillates every inch of my body propelling me to scream my lungs out whenever people start to chant party slogans. The noise is deafening whenever a speaker from the PTI comes on stage to utter a few carefully chosen words. It is my first ever jalsa, and it just keeps growing on me by the minute. When the time finally comes for IK’s speech, I and my friends were pumped up to the max, just like the millions around us. The moment the man opened his mouth to speak, his voice was drowned by the roar of the parched and hungry supporters who somehow had saved ample energy for his appearance. If in this very moment they hold the elections, I can swear no power in this world can stop PTI from a clean sweep. It all seems so surreal, so many people from different classes and backgrounds ready to die for one leader, pitting all hope for a prosperous Pakistan on the shoulders of one person. It truly is mesmerizing.

This all happened in the winter of 2011, pre-winter actually. I had the above paragraphs lying in my drafts and finally thought about posting them. The jalsa mentioned above was PTI’s first ever Tsunami  in the city of Karachi right beside the mausoleum of Quaid-e-Azam. Fast forward 15 months  and the party is going as strong as ever after an even bigger gathering at the Minar-e-Pakistan on March 23rd of this year. A lot of hurdles the party, and Imran Khan in particular have crossed in these 15 months, and I am sure even more gruesome challenges lay ahead till the election day.  But one thing is certain, the time for change has certainly arrived. Before it was the hype around Imran Khan which got people behind him, now it is his party’s manifestos which raise the hopes of an estranged nation.

PTI’s roadmap for success and their claim to be the first democratic political party have certainly won over a few hardline critics. Personally, the past 15 months have made me realize that democracy for democracy’s sake will help no one but the corrupt leaders in charge. Come the elections, I will be voting for a change, not because I know a lot about politics, but because I think it is time we bring forth a younger, vibrant leader to manage the chaos we call home. A leader who can mobilize and inspire the youth, a leader who is not afraid of losing his life, a leader who has proved his skills in the past, a leader who is not motivated by financial gains and a leader who has the country’s interest at heart. Give him a chance, because my gut feeling says: Yes, He Khan!