1. Foreign policy is the way in which states articulate their interests towards foreign actors. It is basically the behavior of one state towards the other state. It is based on the goals to protect and advance national interests that policy makers seeks to obtain abroad. It dedicates political, social, economic and military behavior of a country with other countries.
Role of Media
Media is an important source of information to effect upon and to be effected by foreign policy. Theories and concepts of media that can be applied on foreign policy matters are agenda setting, framing and gate keeping etc. Media turns to be an important tool in the pursuit of national interests outlined in the foreign policy1. With the advancement of technology media have become more powerful as the information is now more pervasive, omnipresent.
Media has three primary and vital roles in foreign policy process which are communication, interpretation and advocacy. It reflects foreign policy events through the agenda setting perspective, influencing decision makers and compelling them to respond through the media. A perfect example of an organization that uses media in a way that compromises many countries’ security protocols is Mr. Assange’s Wiki Leaks2, an organization that aims to reveal the countries’ true colors to the world, thus destroying the state’s myth, through publicizing governmental documents. Also, examining media through an input perspective, based on the prestige paper theory, media cables potentially can act as agenda setters.
After the secrecy of the Cold War era, governments felt the need to redefine the way that they practice diplomacy, due to the changing needs of the international system. These needs have steered governmental executives towards greater transparency. This can be seen in the tasks that ambassadors perform today. Nowadays, the ambassador’s task list includes interaction with civil society and the promotion of the country’s image through media, rather than meetings behind closed doors.
Role of Think Tanks
Think tanks are independent institutions organized to conduct research and produce independent, policy-relevant knowledge. They fill a critical void between the academic world, on the one hand, and the realm of government, on the other. In a globalized world characterized by increasingly complex relations and interactions, a world that generates an environment of risks and opportunities, the model of the nation state has changed and political governance has opened the door to other socio-political players, like think tanks. Unlike parliaments, universities and state bureaucracies, think tanks are a relatively recent phenomenon in the policy landscape3. But in the past few decades, think tanks are emerging, at an exponential rate, into the debate on and design of public policies in all areas: health, education, culture, law, economics, security, defense, environment, natural resources, energy and international relations, to name a few. They influence decision making at both national and international levels and are an additional resource for the political management of states. A more recent example is that of China4. The Chinese government has tried to promote China’s soft power through think tanks. President Xi Jinping has said on several occasions, that think tanks are a vital element of a nation’s soft power and are an important part of advancing the modernization of any nation’s governance and ability.
To meet the resultant challenges, policy-makers are in need of think tanks more than ever before. Today’s think tanks offer five principal benefits.
Their greatest impact (as befits their name) is in generating “new thinking” that changes the way that country decision-makers perceive and respond to the world.
Besides generating new ideas for senior government officials, think tanks provide a steady stream of experts to serve in administrations.
In addition to bringing new ideas and experts into government, think tanks provide policy-makers with venues in which to build shared understanding with critical base of support within the broad foreign policy community.
Public opinion is also obtained and adjusted in best interest of state foreign policy.
Finally, think tanks can assume a more active foreign policy role by sponsoring sensitive dialogues and providing third-party mediation for parties in conflict.
Pakistan also needs to promote its think tanks5. In this regard, some suggestions are being made below.
Think tanks should be given the opportunity to play a greater role in the formulation of public policy.
Since soft power is a comparatively recent phenomenon in Pakistan. Think tanks in the country should undertake comprehensive research to help the country fully utilize its soft power.
As academia is a powerful medium of communication around the globe, it can be used to highlighted showcase a country’s soft power potential at a global level.
Exchange programmes, particularly cultural and academic exchanges, also are important means available for Pakistan to showcase its image.
The Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad6 is a prime example of how think tanks can play a significant role in promoting Pakistan’s soft power. The ISSI has tried to project soft power in a number of ways. Pakistani think tanks need a lot more to do in order to be more efficient, effective and persuasive.
1 Achbar , M., & Wintonick, P. (Directors). (1992). Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media [Motion Picture].
Axelrod, R. (1984). The Evolution of Cooperation.New York: Basic Books.
Burchill, S. (2005). The National Interest in International Relations Theory.New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Cohen, B. C. (1957). The political process and foreign policy.New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
Cohen, B. C. (1963). The Press and Foreign Policy.New Jersey: Princeton University Press.