ISLAMABAD: National Security Adviser (NSA), Dr Moeed Yusuf, Thursday, called for adopting a proactive and unapologetic approach to counter the fake propaganda of India and emphasised that Pakistan needed to unapologetically share its narrative with the world by utilising modern media techniques.

Speaking at a seminar, the NSA said there was need for better coordination and national dialogue on key issues such as character as an Islamic country, unity in diversity, human welfare for everyone, Pakistan's democratic and federal nature, and Pakistan's stance for peace within and in its neighbourhood.

He added that a national dialogue on "a charter of economy, national security and identity," was necessary to bring these into the national narratives. He said Pakistan needed to convince itself of its story that the world must hear.

Those stories included sacrifices made by Pakistan, losses borne which were not of the country's making, and Pakistan's unique utility to the world as a nuclear power, geo-economic location and trade, and transit hub, he added. He regretted that for the last 20 years, West had portrayed a negative image of Pakistan and the country's efforts remained unsatisfactory to counter that approach against Pakistan.

Contrary to the reality, he added that Pakistan was presented as a problem in Afghan issue but the world had realised it now the reality. He highlighted the three words that captured his approach to narratives: proactive, unapologetic, and pragmatic, adding that the most important one was that "we are shy in presenting our view unapologetically".

"Why wasn't this conversation being done far more unapologetically - not emotively - to clarify that Pakistan is going to do XYZ because it's in our strategic interests, especially given that Pakistan has a story and knows how to tell it."

"We were living in the world, to some extent maybe even today, of public relations, press releases [and] responding to things at our own time. The world has moved on and other countries have moved onto forms of social media - Twitter and Facebook - for real-time engagement," he said, adding Pakistan was still following a very conventional model of strategic communication to build narratives.

He pointed out that Pakistan's narratives did not always align with those of the West, particularly in the case of Afghanistan where Pakistan was used as a scapegoat, and every problem was blamed on it.

"Another problem is speaking our language to others and expecting them to understand what we're saying...The same narratives and talking points couldn't be used everywhere in front of every audience on every occasion. Apart from just the content it also matters who is delivering the message and how they are delivering it," he said. He pointed out that other countries had lobbies against Pakistan, adding Indians spent more time undermining Pakistan than perhaps looking after themselves.

"The fact of the matter is that we have absorbed Western narratives of Pakistan to the point that even internally, there is a debate on whether Pakistan's narrative is the correct one," he said, adding Pakistan had a real story to tell based on what the country was doing and stood for.

"There is absolutely no reason to be apologetic about it," he asserted. "There are multiple narratives that have to come together to create a whole which is what Pakistan stands for as a country and as a nation. Narratives always have to reflect reality," he added.

According to him there is a difference between Pakistan and other countries, particularly India, approaches towards narrative building. He said Pakistan's model was to project its rightful reality to the world, while India's model of narrative was to create a whole global network of fake news to malign Pakistan. He pointed out that certain prerequisites were needed for creating narratives, adding that one of them was having a whole-of-government-coordinated-approach.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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