CHARSADDA: Soft power has always been an influential method for states to achieve political objectives. First World countries have always extended their economic support to under developed states, either to become their ally or to deter another potential ally. Pakistan, despite being a nuclear power although lacking undeterred hard power diction, couldn’t build up on its soft power either. Even when countries engage in the most hostile of events, cultural diplomacy remains active through exchange programmes, art and musical events, to say the least. It does not only strengthen economic foothold in another country but creates prospects for extended trade activity too, in the long run.
In short, soft power and cultural diplomacy is an economic and political investment, which, however, shall not be bilateral always. Pakistan, in terms of its soft power has had massive imports from China, given the rapid and unusual outbreak of Chinese engagement, particularly in the Gwadar region. With more language centres teaching Mandarin, Pakistan is likely to experience substantial Chinese cultural influx into the country. Having seen undeniable importance of cultural influence, Pakistan too should make use of its cultural sphere extending similar programmes to other countries in the region.
With a stuttering economy, faltering trade balances and foreign investments, Pakistan is in no unprecedented strategic position in the region. Hence, it becomes even more important for the country to create and extend its soft power and cultural sway, importantly to the Central Asian states.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 29th, 2017.