The image of Pakistan: Perceptions, fallacies & realities
The Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) arranged a dialogue with Mr. Stig Toft Madsen, a famous Danish researcher associated with Nordic Institute of Asian Studies on December 17, 2007 in Islamabad… The Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) arranged a dialogue with Mr. Stig Toft Madsen, a famous Danish researcher associated with Nordic Institute of Asian Studies on December 17, 2007 in Islamabad. The participants of the session- Mr. David Hansen (Faculty of Humanities, University of Oslo, Norway), Mis Seemi Jan (a famous Danish journalist), Miss Shabana Fayyaz (Strategic Studies Department, Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad), local journalists and the PIPS team- discussed about the Pakistan’s image in West and Mr. Stig’s experience after his visit.
Mr Stig informed the participants that his visit had changed his perception ‘rating’ about Pakistan from ‘pessimistic’ to ‘optimistic’ as things were quite normal here. “Pakistan is not exactly the same as it looks like to outsiders. The people of Pakistan are living a peaceful life. The ill-perceived image of Pakistan is mostly due to lack of inter-state and inter-people communication. Although Pakistan ranks high in media reporting yet the Scandinavian countries have not much of their interests knotted with Pakistan”, he revealed adding that it did not mean that all perceptions about Pakistan were mere a fallacy. There are issues of violence, lack of tolerance, radicalization and political immaturity. One is astonished to see several administrative and legal systems working parallel in different geographical units of Pakistan. The religious seminaries are becoming more and more intolerant; even different religious sects are at draggers drawn. There should be inter-madaaris dialogue and lectures to brush aside the confusions and misperceptions between the madaaris of various sects. This can create religious harmony and tolerance, he added.
All the participants agreed upon the need of enhanced communication between the Pakistan and the Scandinavian countries both at state-level and individual level. Mr Stig further revealed that ‘moderation policy’ of the Pakistani government was in line with the Scandinavian countries’ official policy. Moreover education sector could strengthen the mutual relationship. At private level he suggested that researchers and journalists from Scandinavian countries should visit Pakistan to get the true picture of the issues. Pakistani journalists, researchers and think tanks, nonetheless, can play a key role in correcting the Pakistan’s image by visiting various countries and by arranging joint discussion fora at various levels outside Pakistan.