Pakistan’s public diplomacy supplements the state-to-state diplomacy to develop friendly ties with countries around the world, to pursue foreign policy objectives, and enhance the country’s image. In doing so, we engage with foreign nationals and promote people-to people contacts with the view to enhancing mutual understanding and appreciation of foreign cultures and civilizations.
Main spheres of Pakistan’s public diplomacy are:
Cultural Diplomacy aims to showcase Pakistan’s unique and diverse culture and heritage, music, cuisine, art and literature and sharing it with foreign nationals to develop a better understanding of Pakistani as progressive, modern, multi-religious and multi-ethnic society.
A number of activities are organized by Pakistani missions abroad to promote Pakistan’s cuisine, art, languages, music and history and connect with local public through the art, music, theater, and history. Cultural centers provide a mode of promoting people-to-people contacts..
Pakistan has cultural exchange programmes and agreements which provide a framework of collaboration in the cultural sphere, cultural promotion & cooperation. Activities for promoting cultural cooperation include: exchange of cultural troupes, art and cultural exhibitions, music concerts, audio visual and performing arts, exhibitions, joint production of TV and film content, archeological research and preservation.
Sports is an important means of dynamic people-to-people linkages. We believe therefore that sporting events should not be politicized, sports arena should be utilized to promote peace and mutual understanding. This vision guides Pakistan’s participation in international sporting events and exchange of sporting teams and scouting groups with countries from all regions of the world.
Educational programmes and linkages between universities and academia
Through educational programmes, our public diplomacy aims to promote knowledge and awareness about Pakistan, its history, culture and languages. Pakistan chairs in key universities in China, the UK and the United States make significant contribution in promoting history, culture and politics of Pakistan.
Thousands of Pakistani students study abroad in the disciplines of medicine, sciences and engineering especially in Australia, Canada, China, United Kingdom, United States and countries in the European Union. Similarly Pakistan offers scholarships to students of developing countries especially in Africa, South Asia and East Asia in sciences, medicine and engineering.
These students acts as a bridge between these countries and Pakistan.
Collaboration between universities, academia and think-tanks is also an important pillar of public diplomacy. Activities in this domain include exchange of university professors, joint degree programmes,equivalence and mutual recognition of degrees, joint seminars, workshops and conferences. collaboration between scientific,and literary societies and other educational and research institutions,
Youth and Civil Society Engagement
Outreach to youth and the civil society helps promote understanding about Pakistan and its foreign policy. Through its Missions abroad, Pakistan engages with the youth creating networks for exchange of ideas, skills and knowledge to promote mutual understanding and friendly ties.
Youth exchange programmes such as with China give an opportunity to the youth groups to experience culture and society and thus create positive perceptions, enhance mutual understanding and create a pool of goodwill ambassadors.
Pakistan lies at the center of a diverse region, which offers a potpourri of various religions with people holding religion very close to their hearts. Pakistan is a Religious Tourism attraction for people belonging to Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism. As per PTDC, Pakistan has a total of 480 tourist destinations, out of which 120 are religious sites.
Government of Pakistan, therefore, promotes religious tourism and encourages individuals of diverse faiths to visit their holy sites in Pakistan.Besides affording an opportunity to the pilgrims to visit these revered sites, religious tourism enhances people-to-people contacts, strengthens inter-faith harmony thereby cultivating tolerance, mutual respect and peaceful coexistence.
Under the 1974 Pakistan-India bilateral protocol on visit to religious sites, Hindu and Sikh pilgrims visit Pakistan on the occasion of important religious events and festivals. Major attractions for Hindus include: Katas Raj Temple Chakwal, Hinglaj Mata Temple Hingol Park, Ramdev Temple TandoAllahyar, Shiv MandirUmarkot, Hanuman Mandir Karachi and Shahdanidarbar in Sindh
The Punjab province of Pakistan is the birthplace of Sikh religion. Major holy Sikh sites include GurdwaraNankana Sahib, GurdwaraDarbarSahib ,GurdwaraPanja Sahib Hasan Abdal and GurdwaraDera Sahib Lahore. About 10000 Sikh yatrees visit Pakistan for pilgrimage of these revered sites every year. The annual Baisakhi festival attracts another 2000 sikhyatreesor pilgrims every year. Kartarpur Corridor, inaugurated in 2019, links GurdwaraDera Baba Nanak in India to GurdwaraDera Sahib Pakistan and provides a unique opportunity for families from Pakistan and India to perform religious pilgrimage and carryout promotion of peace and understanding.
Pakistan has also been an epicenter of Buddhist culture and teachings during the Gandhara Civilization.Buddhism spread from Gandhara to parts of East Asia including Republic of Korea & Tibet. Buddhist sites in Pakistan therefore hold special significance for Buddhists around the world, especially in East and South Asia. Pakistan misions in the region showcase the historical and Buddhist linkages with these countries and encourage local public to visit historical and religious Buddhist sites in Pakistan. Pakistan receives around 2000 Buddhist Monks every year for religious tourism centered on various stupas in Taxila.
Role of Pakistan Missions abroad
Pakistan’s missions abroad reinforce the efforts of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for region-specific public diplomacy projects. They engage in various public diplomacy initiatives and activities to promote Pakistan’s image, foster cultural exchanges, and enhance bilateral relations.
These efforts include organizing cultural events like food festivals, literary events, poetry recitations, music festivals, sufiqawwali nights, photo exhibition, sport tournaments (cricket, hockey, football). Pakistan also participate in major international fairs and expos, conferences, and seminars to showcase Pakistan's rich heritage and traditions.
Commemoration of Establishment of Diplomatic Relations
Ministry, in collaboration with partner organizations, embassies regularly organizes public diplomacy events including celebration of bilateral anniversaries commemorating establishment of diplomatic relations.
In recent years, Pakistan has celebrated bilateral anniversaries with numerous countries, enumerated as follows:
Belgium (2023), Italy (2023), Kuwait (2023), Norway (2023),Republic of Korea (2023), Russian Federation (2023), The Netherlands (2023)
To augment work of Public Diplomacy, a Strategic Communications Division was established in 2020 to modernize the Ministry’s communication toolkit and make it technology-driven to widely spreadthe Ministry’s message to public around the world though digital and social media.
Embracing the modern information age, Ministry has created a comprehensive digital footprint, bringing its network of Missions Abroad across social media platforms (X, Instagram, Linkedin, YouTube and Facebook) in a uniform manner. In its outreach activities, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs works with its Missions abroad to share digital content to target specific audiences.
Share Pakistan Portal
Share Pakistan Portal https://sharepakistan.mofa.gov.pk/login was launched in May 2023. It aims to map and communicate the impact of public diplomacy initiatives in pursuance of Pakistan’s foreign policy objectives.
Through its dedicated Public Diplomacy social media assets, Ministry regularly runs digital campaigns on:
Panel Discussions/Seminars/Conferences/Conversations on Social Media
Various hallmark events, including X spaces (formerly Twitter), are held both at Ministry and at Pakistan Missions abroad to engage diplomats, civil society, media, think tanks, academia, parliamentarians, opinion-makers, students and government officials to share Pakistan’s perspective on various issues of cultural, social and political importance.
Public Diplomacy Newsletter
The Ministry publishes a quarterly ‘Public Diplomacy Newsletter’ documenting outreach and public diplomacy activities of the Mission’s abroad in the domains of culture, arts, sports, tourism, fashion and other avenues of people-to-people collaboration.
Volume-I: June-August 2023