Pakistan will need to look very seriously at its image in the world and determine what can be done to fix it. The way things stand at present are not good for it or its citizens, with the prevailing perceptions about the country affecting investment in it, tourism to it, visas for Pakistanis and the reception they receive in most countries as they arrive at airports.
This is borne out by a new survey of 16 countries, carried out by the BBC and involving 26,000 people. The results show that Pakistan is one of the least popular countries in the world, finishing at 15th place on the list topped by Germany. Only Iran finished behind Pakistan in the poll, with participants asked to judge a country on the basis of its “positive” or “negative” influence on the world. Fifty-five per cent of respondents thought Pakistan’s contribution was “negative”, with only 15 per cent judging it as “positive”. India finished four ranks ahead of Pakistan, with 34 per cent judging its role as a positive one.
We may, of course, differ with these opinions. Many — indeed, most of us — do not like to see our country in this light. But we must accept this is the view the rest of the world holds and find ways to combat it. This is possible only if we make an effort to change ourselves, to examine problems and to tackle them. Yes, the government needs to play a key role in this but we too, as citizens, must contribute. The conduct of Pakistanis living overseas, as students or part of the workforce can also play a part in this and help us move higher up this ignominious listing. We need to take measures to root out corruption and extremism, which have given us such a bad name globally, and focus on development and education. We currently do not stand at a good place at all and need to act to change things before global opinion about our country hardens even further. This would be unfortunate in many ways and will do nothing to gain us the dignity and standing we need in the world. This alone could, to a very considerable extent, help us escape the increasing sense of isolation we currently face, regarded as a country with little hope of recovery in the near future.
Source: Editorial, The Express Tribune, May 27th, 2013.