A combination of cultural and public diplomacy is not only a powerful tool that can improve Pakistan's public image abroad, but can also help bring investments and tourism opportunities for the country. Some panellists expressed these views while speaking at a one-day conference, "Pakistan's Global Profile: Priorities and Options" here on Thursday organised by Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) - a think-tank that is dedicated to research, analysis and evaluation of strategic and emerging issues with relevance to Pakistan's national interest and policies.
"Elections are won and lost, based not on ideologies, but on how a country's economy is doing. This fact has played out in the United States and even in Pakistan," said Dr Javed Ashraf, Vice Chancellor of Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad. While it is easy to be an armchair critic, Pakistan's current foreign reserves have increased, the armed forces with support of the government, have helped improve the law and order, and security situation of the country, he said. Former ambassador Sohail Amin, President IPRI, said that Pakistan has the 7th largest Diaspora and the 9th largest labour force in the world. With the phenomenon of extended life expectancy, the aged populations in the industrialised world have increased.
Pakistan's existing young population can play a major role by contributing towards the growing global workforce demands, he said. Amin said Pakistan has remained one of the largest troop contributing countries for many years, which demonstrates its commitment to world peace. "At present, more than 7,500 Pakistani troops are deployed in six UN mandated missions," he said.
Tariq Osman Hyder a former ambassador speaking on the "Role of Pakistani Diaspora in Enhancing Pakistan's Global Profile" said, that remittances sent by those working abroad during 2014-15 were US $18,454.04 million, with an increase of 16.52 percent over the previous year, despite an ongoing global recession. In the financial year July 2015 to May 2016, $17,831.62 million were remitted, with an increase of 5.58 percent over the year before. "It is clear that our remittances are keeping our economy afloat," he said.
Discussing the 'China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Prospects for Revival of Pakistan's Economy,' Dr Safdar A Sohail, Executive Director CPEC Centre of Excellence at Planning Commission of Pakistan said, that many of the structural bottlenecks faced by Pakistan such as low FDI in manufacturing, poor investment climate, low tax to GDP ratio, the US $187 billion infrastructure deficit and our poor agricultural performance will be addressed by CPEC. He cautioned, however, that in order to attract investments in Pakistan utilisation of CPEC potentials to the fullest, up-gradation of technology and infrastructure is crucial, along with serious policy push and resource mobilisation. Energy is a major component of the early harvest projects of CPEC, he added, and shared that the government hopes to add ten thousand plus megawatts by 2018 to the national grids.
According to Rahim Hayat Qureshi, Director General, Policy Planning and Public Diplomacy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the ministry has recognised that cultural diplomacy programmes create forums for interaction between people of different countries, thus, laying the groundwork for the forging of bonds and strong 'foundations of trust' between people of different nationalities.