Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Trust Us, Even If We Do Not Trust Ourselves

So, most of our readers have probably already heard about the advertisement that the Government of Pakistan took out in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. According to Dawn, the ad was first offered to the New York Times, which "refused to publish it, forcing Pakistani officials to go to a business newspaper with a specialised but influential readership."

Here is the ad (via the LongWarJournal):

Pakistan's 9/11 ad in the WSJ


Irrespective of the merits of the advertisement - and there are many who have questioned its design and message - one of the intriguing questions that arise is why the New York Times refused to publish it. A half-page ad is, after all, darn good revenue especially in these recessionary times.

According to the WSJ's own blog, which shrugged off the ad's chances of changing the anti-Pakistan narrative in the American media:

"The [New York] Times asked for “more clarity in the ad about who was placing it,” according to a spokeswoman for the newspaper. The Times did not hear back from the government and so has not yet run the ad, she said."

Well, our sources inform us that the problem about the source of the ad arose because neither the Pakistan Embassy in Washington nor the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) nor the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MoI&B) were the sources of the ad. In fact, our sources confirm that none of these three Pakistani government entities was even consulted about the ad. In fact, the ad, designed by the Pakistani advertising agency Midas, was placed directly from the Prime Minister's Secretariat.

Why, you might ask, would the Prime Minister's Secretariat bypass its own subordinate media departments and its representatives who are specifically tasked with international relations work? Could it be, as our sources indicate, that the advertisement was the first instance of the country's premier intelligence agency directly placing an advertisement in a foreign publication?

The question that the WSJ probably needs to answer is how, if the three obvious points of contact (Embassy, MoFA, MoI&B) for advertisements from the Government of Pakistan did not sign off on the ad, was it able to confirm that the ad was, in fact, placed by the Government of Pakistan. According to the WSJ blog, which also raises this question:

"The ad as printed in the Journal carries a line at the bottom in small font saying “Government of Pakistan” next to a web address for the government. A spokeswoman for the Journal declined to comment."

Is there something essentially wrong about the ad? Aside from quibbles about the precision of some of the figures, some of the cringe-worthy wording ("Promising Peace To The World"?) and the obsequious offering up of Pakistan to the Americans, no. Is it wrong to try and sway public opinion in the US to a better understanding of the suffering Pakistanis have gone through in the fight against Al Qaeda-type terrorism? Once again, no. Those convinced that Pakistan is playing an evil double game will obviously poke fun at some of the assertions of the ad but there is no doubt that the often unnuanced and simplistic American narrative, that ignores how Pakistanis view the maelstorm they are caught in and their own interests, is in dire need of a corrective.

But what does it say about the Pakistani State if its organs feel they need to bypass each other to get a point across that, ostensibly, all of them should be agreed upon? What does it say about how policies are made and implemented?

Then again, we might also point out that the US$150,000 apparently spent on running the ad in the WSJ could have been better utiltized for things with a currently slightly higher priority than a PR exercise.

18 comments:

Nadir said...

Apart from the fact that the person who came up with the add had little more than an iota of creativity, the fact that we are trying to win over a sceptical American audience, due to the efforts of the same people who bash America at home is highly hypocritical! Apart from the fact that it reads like a list of mercenary services, especially how "Only Pakistan" can deploy 200k forces begs the question to what end? Cash injection? Change in public perception so that...tourists come? Investors come? Congress is satsfied? Or is it the case that our establishment who beat obedience and praise from the Pakistani populace now want the US to sing their praises as well?

A. Mitchell said...

Despite the inappropriate and grating use of Anglo-Indian English, which reveals ignorance and disregard for the intended readership, this ad would have had a positive result if it had appeared prior to the discovery of Osama bin Laden living comfortably in the country. The change in the nation’s credibility since that event is phenomenal.

Rather than continue to seek to re-brand Pakistan, substantive changes are needed. There is no shortage of good, competent individuals within the country who have great ideas and good intentions.

As in my country, Pakistan has problems attracting competent individuals to elected public office. There appear to be good people within every major party, obscured by the methods of selecting party leadership. Instituting open political primaries would help, with the two top vote-getters for each office (regardless of party) proceeding to general elections.

Mutazalzaluzzaman Tarar said...

Shouldn't have bothered. We're trying to reach out to likes of the condescending American jackass A Mitchell who posted above. Not going to make a difference to these Glenn Beck/Bill O'Reilly following idiots.

As ridiculous as the rampant anti-Americanism is in Pakistan, Americans haven't exactly descended from heaven despite what they believe. So, stop fking talking down to us.

TLW said...

Funny that this ad, promising Pakistan's assistance in staving of Armageddon is analysed next to this tab I have open:

Prophecy, Apocalypse, and the Selling of the Pakistani Dream, 1947-2000

I wish Pakistan's political institutions would get their act together in a way good for the public, AND that I could be ther to attend this talk.

Here's hoping for a podcast.

hemlock said...

"Then again, we might also point out that the US$150,000 apparently spent on running the ad in the WSJ could have been better utiltized for things with a currently slightly higher priority than a PR exercise."

disagree.
pakistan's top priority at this point is fixing their image in the international markets; it's a perception game, one which we are losing in.
finally someone's paying attention.

Forbidden Fruit said...

This is outrageous! Really.. everything about this ad. From the text, to it's placement, to the intentions behind it. Were they trying to be creative with "Begging" for aid this year?

Anonymous said...

I really don't know what to say. If it's "IMAGE" that is the problem, the easiest way would be to talk to the Pakistani people. It's the masses in Pakistan who vote in every poll against the West - America, against India, against Israel. If Pew Polls and other such polls show that Pakistani public vote against Jaish-e-Mohammed, L-e-T, Hizb ul Mujahideen, Tehreek e Taliban Pak and such assorted Jihadi entities (even if the public don't support the Zionist US-India-Israel) would automatically guarantee a fantastic image for Pakistan.
Heck, even if the small percentage of Pakistan-origin British citizens vote for secular democracy in polls (& a significant percent of UK-based Pak public voted for Sharia and for repeal of the current man-made law system), it would tremendously change the outlook of the entire nation in the eyes of the world.
For that, you need to elevate orators & influential *leaders* like Zaid Hamid & Hamid Gul to a very high pedestal - sarcasm?
As long as ZH HG & company continue to influence public & public continue voting against Zionist US-India-Israel axis in polls - no amount of NYT or WSJ ads are going to change the "image".
.
Just my "dho paise" worth of thoughts.
.
MN

Seema said...

yo Pyala, ya know I like you and all, but why aren't you writing about ALTAF's address? i'm waiting for your take on it man!

and hey mitchell, eff off. love how your shithole country is being mowed down in Afghanistan.

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Caffeinated Bliss said...

"Despite the inappropriate and grating use of Anglo-Indian English, which reveals ignorance and disregard for the intended readership,"

Brought to you by the people who needed 'philosopher' translated to 'Sorcerer'

Maryam A. said...

Haye. I just realized I don't follow you. But, uh, now I do. :3
Hello, pyala.

sara said...

I think what is more frightening is the fact that they almost seem to proudly display the number of Pakistani's who have died in the 'war on terror'... A little disgusting. What sort of country puts up an ad in a foreign country stating: LOOK WE FiGHT FOR PEACE HERE IS HOW MANY OF OUR PEOPLE HAVE DIED, PLEASE LOVE US. this kinda makes me sick.

Anonymous said...

The Ad is a plagiarized version of a post of The Terrorland blogs

Anonymous said...

@Seema
The shithole is Pakistan where visa lines outside American embassy in Islamabad are very long.

As far as the ad goes, it was bad and the idea behind it was bad as well. Why would you advertise thousands of your civilians being killed ?

Anonymous said...

Amazing. All it takes for Pakistan to ruin it's own image in the hearts & minds of Americans (both politicians and average Joe) is just one man making a statement to a committee. So, Mullen said Haqqani is a "veritable arm" of the ISI - what is the big deal? Isn't the entire Talib a veritable arm of the past-CIA - which funded guns & money to defeat Soviets?
When you have a country that burns effigies & flags for one statement made by one out-going military officer, why do you even bother building up any image?
Talib have bitten the US-hand that fed them; and T-T-P is already biting the Pakistani hand. When will Pak-army realize that these "factions" they now support will eventually come back to bite Pakistan too.
People living in glass houses shoud not throw stones at others.
MN

I Am So Totally Me said...

Well, as a matter of fact, at this point, PR SHOULD be a high priority for the Gov of Pakistan. Also, I find nothing cringe worthy about the ad. Not even the line that promises peace. If we give out hopeful messages like these to the world, then not will we be striving to make our image better but the locals too will try their very best to live up to the expectations (If any)So thumbs up to the creative team behind this ad.

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