31 Oct 2017/Tuesday
Having been battered Nationally and Internationally, Pak Army has taken over the responsibility of shoring up Pakistan’s falling image. Sources known to view point have revealed that Pak Army has issued guide lines to the Government of Pakistan for Image makeover.
The strategy should be anchored on projecting a ‘positive’ image and mitigate negative propaganda and apprehensions the profiling of Pakistan as a radical and intolerant society needs to be alleviated through projecting what Pakistan really is; a democratic and moderate society, leveraging its rich culture and heritage and connecting with a shared global value structure. Some key issues where it wants the Government to focus are:
a. The Prime Minister must take ownership of the policy to dispel the impression that is a disconnect between the civilian and military leadership.
b. Various agencies/ Ministries are working independently of each other sometimes at cross purpose and often to the disadvantage of Pakistan. ISPR through its Defense Attache, Foreign Office through its Mission and Ministry of IB&NH interact with media independently, raising doubts “who represents Pakistan”. ‘One voice’ by all on all National issues amplifies the voice and strengthens the National Narrative.
c. Before devising any strategy we need to have clear cut policy, goals and road map. Its target should be both domestic as well as International Media with Separate plan pursuing a proactive policy instead of firefighting.
d. Problem like delay in grant of visa, reason for its refusal and what constitutes prohibited area are being faced by bonafide/accredited journalist. Discouraging visas denies an opportunity to engage and built rapport with Foreign media. Ironing out these issues would lead to a more media friendly approach in order to win over the narrative in support of Pakistan.
e. The format prescribed by Ministry of interior for requesting information conveys a negative impression like the inverse legal maxim; ‘presumed guilty. Reality ‘Review/revisit the visa policy for foreign journalists, initiate an inter-agency dialogue to improve the policy provisions and plug the implementation gaps.
f. Reality has now become a social construct and media is the most potent tool for constructing it.
g. Cyber Wing in the M/o information can be utilized for promoting an integrated approach on social media.
h. Procedural/logistical issues pertaining to clearance of journalists, especially foreign media, required closer coordination with M/o interior which was vital for greater outreach.
j. Recommendation made by External Publicity Wing after consultation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and approval by Secretary, Ministry of Information, Broadcasting & National Heritage should be binding on Ministry of Interior, which shall issue clearance promptly.
Specific Directive by Pak Army
a. A Media Communication Committee (MCC) comprising representatives of the ISPR, MOFA, IB M/o Interior and other already exists. It should work as an apex body with focus on evolving a clear, unified, consistent narrative and an institutional framework to project it in a coordinated fashion at all levels.
b. Construe a Strategic Communication Wing under MCC. This should be an autonomous body working under the Ministry of IB&NH with senior representation.
c. A special Fund “Pakistan Media Fund” should be placed at the disposal of Strategic Communication Wing.
d. Constitute a pool comprising scholars, academicians, media persons etc of international standing who can interact with media when so desired.
e. Project that while Pakistan pursues a policy of peaceful relations with all nations with emphasis on a peaceful neighborhood, Indian acquisition of arms and technology are a threat to the region and global security.
f. Prepare a fact sheet on India enlisting its hegemonic designs, atrocities in Kashmir and provocations against Pakistan. All material should be available in UN languages as well as Bengali, Hindi, Darri and Persian.
g. Highlight that Indian government having failed to crush the struggle of Kashmiris is now distracting internal and external attention by blaming Pakistan for its own mistakes.
h. Project India as an irresponsible and untrustworthy state as it violates its International obligations (UN, NSG and Indus Basin Treaty).
j. Invite media from other countries specially India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to sensitize them about the dangers of policy being pursued by India.
k. There are over two dozen Pakistani journalists who are contributing to the India media. We should cultivate them for promoting our foreign policy agenda. Pakistani panelist appearing in Indian Channels or contributing articles in print media should be advised to tow government’s line.
l. Besides leveraging private sector, Pakistani diaspora, the Sikh Community in USA, who are both influential and financially sound and must be looped in.
m. Sponsoring pro-Pakistan Seminars, engaging Academia and think tanks, Commissioning Article/Columns in Europe, India and United States by financing them through third parties.
n. Regular background briefing on important developments Ministries may be scheduled to keep media abreast of the policies, initiatives and viewpoint of Pakistan. Also, focal persons be appointed to respond to queries promptly.
o. A counter offensive need to be launched in Afghanistan as well, since indications are that it is working in sync with India. Installing powerful transmitters by Radio Pakistan must be done at priority.
p. There is a strong need to fill the communication gap between the “National Grid” and the Pakistani Missions by coopting then in the proposed Strategic Communication Wing.
From the above, the foot prints of Pak Army’s role in each and every sphere of Governance of Pakistan are clear. This has been resented by many in top echelons of the government and is the prime cause of Civil Military conflict in Pakistan. Unless Pak Army stops interfering in governance there is a very little chance that above directive will be able to achieve any thing substantial.