By Naveed Ahmad, tribune.com.pk
Fruits of public diplomacy
Contrary to state-level ties, Iran enjoys a positive image among citizens, mainly due to its anti-US and anti-Israel posturing. The fallout of arrogant US policies and rapid appeasement of India at the cost of Pakistan has led to an improved image of the defiant regime in the public sphere.
Unlike Pakistan’s Arab allies, Iran invests heavily on wider outreach and public diplomacy in its countries of interest. Despite odds posed by radical Sunni groups, Tehran has not only been able to maintain excellent relations with the Shia population of Pakistan but has also made inroads in civil society and Pakistan’s political arena.
During Shah’s time and even after the revolution, Iran never abandoned banking on Urdu’s Persian heritage. The literary connection has always served to strengthen Iran’s linkage to the Urdu speakers. Moreover, conferences on Ghalib and Iqbal’s Persian poetry have been a source of networking among intellectuals.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Iran today will test diplomatic posturing of post-sanction Iran. Also, Tehran can use the opportunity to open a new chapter of ties with Islamabad.
Naveed Ahmad is a Pakistani investigative journalist and academic with extensive reporting experience in the Middle East and North Africa. He is based in Doha and Istanbul. He tweets @naveed360