The New Approach: a case study — Pakistan
Last summer, my office worked closely with our Embassy in Islamabad, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke, USAID, and DoD to draft the Pakistan Communications Plan, a copy of which has been provided to the Committee.
The Pakistan Plan has four broad goals: expand media outreach, counter extremist propaganda, build communications capacity, and strengthen people-to-people ties. Our plan links elements of traditional public diplomacy with innovative new tools. For instance, recognizing that extremist voices dominate in some of Pakistan’s media markets, we instituted a rapid response unit and a 24-hour multilingual hotline for the Embassy to respond to attacks, threats, and propaganda from the Taliban, al Qaeda, and their sympathizers. This approach reversed a previous approach of not actively countering such propaganda. It has been an uphill battle but, as our voice gets more frequent play, the impact on the discourse in Pakistan’s media has been noticeable.As we strengthen our people-to-people ties with Pakistanis, our aim has been to increase positive American presence on the ground in Pakistan. To do this we are focusing on more exchanges, more presence, more Lincoln Centers, more face-to-face meetings with engaged citizens in Pakistan, and more non-official contacts between Pakistanis and Americans in Pakistan.Secretary Clinton’s October 2009 visit to Pakistan was planned and executed in coordination with the themes of our strategic plan. Her focus on issues of education, jobs, and reliable electric power responded to what we had identified as central concerns of Pakistanis. Her extensive series of public engagement activities carried out the Plan’s emphasis on rejuvenating our personal, face-to-face diplomacy. Her visits to historical and cultural venues underscored American respect for and desire for partnership with the people of Pakistan. Perhaps the most telling moment came during a press conference during which Pakistani Foreign Minister Qureshi stated that the Secretary’s visit had been a success precisely because it had manifested a “policy shift” toward a focus on “people-centric” relations. This was and is precisely our message.While very few countries will require plans on the order of Pakistan, henceforth we will ensure that our public diplomacy strategic plans for each Mission incorporate rigorous strategic analysis to drive focus and coordination at the post level.
In related news, the NYT reported that “A tour of the United States arranged by the State Department to improve ties to Pakistani legislators ended in a public relations fiasco when the members of the group refused to submit to extra airport screening in Washington, and they are now being hailed as heroes on their return home.”
we I should not complain too much about these new titles as long as these folks get things done. It’s not their fault that I can’t keep track of these new titles (note to self: need faster microprocessor).
But what’s wrong with “Public Affairs Officer?”
The Public Diplomacy: Strengthening U.S. Engagement With the World document is nolonger available from the state.gov website. Thanks to Kona The Dog who pointed us to an archive copy here: http://uscpublicdiplomacy.org/index.php/newswire/cpdblog_detail/us_public_diplomacys_flimsy_new_framework/