Media adviser hired for ‘softer image’ project
ISLAMABAD , May 15,2005: The government has hired a media adviser to promote the country’s ‘softer image’. The new recruit at the prime minister’s secretariat is Mahreen Khan, who has hosted BBC World’s Question Time Pakistan and Hardtalk Pakistan. The Cambridge and Harvard educated Ms Khan, who came on board about three weeks back, has been assigned to lead the Image Pakistan Project.
Her role will be to act as the focal point for evolving and implementing the strategy for the project. The job entails coordinating the various facets and implementers of the image strategy, across the ministries and embassies, and forging links with international print and electronic media; academics, opinion-makers and overseas Pakistanis. To monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the strategy there are also plans to devise performance indicators.
It is learnt that Ms Khan will soon be putting together a team for the project. The objective of the project is to neutralize the country’s negative image abroad by diversifying the coverage of Pakistan to include non-political messages such as art, culture and human interest issues. Key elements of the proposed strategy include establishing a network of international contacts in academia, major media outlets and opinion makers as well as an appreciation of how the international community works and how investment and business climates are influenced.
Currently Pakistan’s image is dominated almost exclusively by regional security issues such as Afghanistan, relations with India and terrorism, religion and women’s rights, analysts say. It has a poor profile at international events in the performing arts. The major think tanks and universities that influence public opinion have very few Pakistanis on their research staff, they point out.
It is believed that the negative image results in reduced trade levels, a compromised economy, Pakistan’s non-participation in mainstream non-political events such as the arts, music and culture besides affecting the quality of life of overseas Pakistanis.