COUNTRIES which are ranked as top-ten countries for soft power are the most powerful countries in the world: UK, Germany, USA, France, Canada, Australia, Switzerland and Japan. The powerful countries have more access to communication channels and monopoly over international organizational structure, therefore, they are in a better position to fashion the global norms and values. Soft power is a velvet glove for powerful and rich countries that they utilize through aid and accessing multiple national and international communication channels and institutions. It implies that more powerful a country is the more sot power it can gain and sustain.
The concept of soft power could not be applied on less powerful countries as it applies on more powerful countries. There are two major constraints: First, the small states have less say in building international power structure, institutional mechanism and in fabricating global norms. Second, these states are suffering badly from issues of welfare, socio-economy, political instability, corruption and institutional malfunctioning. When applying theory of soft power to Pakistan, both these constraints hold true.
We have been trying to imply it for a long time and projecting a positive image of country but we are failing miserably. We have been failing to build a soft image of Pakistan in the world, let alone building soft power. What nye proposed to America was present in American society and culture. When we try to imply it on Pakistan, we ignore our societal and cultural barriers, our ground realities, which are altogether different from the USA and other powerful countries which are listed in top ten countries having soft power.
When we try to utilise our rich culture and scenic beauty, we forget that our security conditions do not make it a productive idea. With one bomb blast, with one suicide attack, our soft power also blasts. Then, we are often given the idea of becoming attractive by using our cultural and media industry. We are too far from getting our voice heard through arts industry. Then, there is the concept of empowering women but the presence of narrow-minded people deflates the balloon of woman empowerment completely.
Soft power comes from the power that is attractive to the world. What makes the USA attractive to the world, in Fareed Zakariaís words, is its capability of inventing future. If Pakistan wants to be attractive to the world, it needs to link itself with the future and all those global trends which are shaping the future. Education, IT sector, women empowerment and information agency sector with global-outreach are those elements which will make todayís Pakistan with the more appealing and attractive Pakistan of tomorrow.
We often ignore in borrowing foreign ideas that we must adapt while adopting these ideas. Itís not in the realm of foreign policy only that we follow this practice. Weíve done it in every field of life. In life sciences, we are dependent on the research done in the labs of America, The Great Britain, Canada and Australia. Thus we are unable to fetch the true fruits of our research which is applied on papers hardly in fields.
When our forefathers decided to build a city, Islamabad, they wanted to make it look beautiful. Scenic beauty, thatís what Islamabad is famous for. They borrowed trees of Eucalyptus because they looked beautiful and made their surrounding cooler than any other family of trees. Islamabad, the beautiful, really looked beautiful and it does till date but Eucalyptus has absorbed table ground water. The Beauty, the innocuous decision was eroding the water-holding capacity of Islamabad. Same is the case with soft power. Weíll have to identify the constraints and limitations in utilising our soft power assets and then draft a policy roadmap to build our soft power.
Pakistan Observer