There are innumerable dimensions of attractiveness for a given country from lofty mountains, lush green valleys, desolate deserts, and deep seas to shopping and sports paradises. Religious, cultural, archaeological, and architectural heritages also contribute to the attractiveness of any country. But this all goes in vain if economic, social and environmental attractiveness is compromised. Commercial efficiency has become an important indicator of the sound economic progress of any nation on this planet. Today commercial activities have stretched far beyond traditional or even modern concepts of exchanging goods and services for monetary gains. Now every stakeholder is trapped in the attractiveness of the market. Individuals, companies, customers, tourists, experts and professionals everyone is fascinated by the attractiveness of the market and its relevant forces. Nations, besides research and innovation, spend significant resources to maintain the marketable attractiveness of the country to keep attracting relevant customers from mere trade to exceptional intellectual exchanges.
Pakistan miserably failed to maintain the marketable attractiveness of the country due to several reasons, some of which were certainly beyond control but most of them were indeed missed due to sheer inefficiencies. Instances such as wars with neighbours and wars in neighbouring countries were probably out of Pakistan’s capability to avoid. Pakistan was willingly or unwillingly subject to embracing these challenges. However, issues such as perception of corruption, lawlessness, repeated violations of the constitution, political instability etc. were certainly the responsibility of all Pakistanis to eliminate these ailments from the society which badly dented the attractiveness of the country.
Despite several attempts, Pakistan couldn’t utilize effective marketing and promotional strategies and policies to raise global awareness about several competitive features of the country to attract relevant stakeholders from commercial organizations to relevant communities e.g., Pakistan offers exceptional opportunities for mountain and coastal tourism but couldn’t truly capitalize on these natural blessings during entire history after independence. Pakistan is located in an area that remained the centre of several historic civilizations. Although some of those have lost their importance but some others are thriving even today but then again Pakistan failed to attract them to visit Pakistan to explore their historic heritage e.g., the Gandhara civilization has deep connections with Buddhism while Pakistan can promote Gandhara legacy to attract followers of Buddhism for their religious tourism which can significantly contribute to strengthening country’s economy. The traditional textile industry is now on the verge of demise, however, there have been new opportunities such as the leading football producer for FIFA World Cup in Pakistan but we couldn’t exploit this unique success to strengthen the sports industry. People at an individual level are producing remarkable success stories but then as a nation entire operating system of the country failed to exhibit attractiveness for relevant stakeholders at a broader level to ensure meaningful and sustainable engagements to strengthen the economy of the country.
It is generally believed that the physical and facial attractiveness of a person facilitates interpersonal relations and the overall success of an individual. Similarly, according to Dr. J. B. Barney from Texas AandM University, country attractiveness in terms of favourable policies, conducive environment and commonly perceived image can certainly extend sustainable competitive advantage to a nation. Kwang-Hoon Lee from the Korea Institute of Public Administration, South Korea, raised some important questions such as, if the attractiveness of a firm can improve its financial performance in a competitive market, does higher country attractiveness influence the success of its strategy in international competition in promoting international investment, tourism or migration? What elements constitute the attractiveness of a nation? And why it is important for a country to be attractive?
Because, according to Prof. Richard H. K. Vietor from Harvard Business School, today’s global marketplace demands attractiveness from countries to survive, compete, and prosper. Recent history of nations suggests three models of development including military supremacy, economic leadership and a combination of both. The United States and its allies usually relied on military-led solutions, Japan believed in economic leadership through continuous innovation and efficiency, while China is combining both military influence and economic leadership to dominate the rest of the world. However, it is important to note that China blended several aspects in its quest to attain the status of global power. China is keen to maintain peace and harmony inside the country, focusing on innovation and adopting unbelievable cost leadership in almost every segment of the economy which remains difficult for the rest of the world to imitate.
There is extensive debate on three dimensions of power for nations including hard power (military), economic power and soft power. Pakistan failed significantly in the last dimension though couldn’t perform better even in the economic sphere therefore struggling as of today to keep economic indicators acceptable to global financial institutions. CPEC can help Pakistan to transform both the economic and soft power of the country. There has been extensive discussion on the economic aspects of CPEC which certainly can deliver a promise to the country but there is relatively less dialogue on CPEC’s ability to strengthen the soft power of Pakistan. The three-dimensional chessboard model of world politics by Joseph S. Nye from Harvard University emphasizes the interdependence of these three dimensions with the military on the top, economy in the middle and soft at the bottom suggesting the ability of a country to influence others through non-military means such as persuasion and attraction. He argued, for instance, in several competitive areas such as international tourism, countries need to be more attractive to prospective tourists in order to succeed in this competition. Similarly, in the area of export sales market or foreign direct investment, the higher attractiveness of a country can have a positive impact on selling goods/services made in the country of origin and hosting industries, companies, and factories, by way of attracting international consumers and investors.
Campaigns to raise the confidence of prospective customers such as citizens and consumers of other countries, tourists and investors, and private and public sector organizations around the globe provide a foundation to strengthen the soft power of the country to attract diverse customers. But unfortunately, Pakistan is subject to self-destruction on several levels and fronts e.g., on one hand in political rivalries we even forget to protect our national reputation while exaggerating deficiencies of opponents who remained in leading offices of the State on the other, we ruined constitutional sanctities so conveniently so many times that other nations can hardly believe on our narratives for soft power. Anyhow, we can still learn from the likes of Qatar to become a soft superpower besides maintaining innovations in military industries and commercial sectors to boost economic stability and growth as a balanced and progressive society.