Seminar on “CPEC: Strategizing Pakistan’s Narrative”
April 25, 2019
“China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a flagship project of Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which has been very well received and appreciated across the world. It is built around prosperity, win-win outcome and development for all regional countries. However, if we do not build our own positive narrative on CPEC, this will leave ample room for the propagation of negative perceptions.” This was stated by Jiang Han, Political Counsellor at Embassy of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Islamabad, while he was speaking at a seminar on “CPEC: Strategizing Pakistan’s Narrative” organised by China-Pakistan Study Centre (CPSC) at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) on April 25, 2019. The distinguished speakers of the seminar were Mr. Amir Jahangir, Chief Executive Officer, Mishal Pakistan, and Dr. Zafar Iqbal, Chairman Department of Media and Communication Studies, International Islamic University, Islamabad (IIUI).
Earlier in his welcome remarks, Ambassador Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry, Director General ISSI, stated that CPEC is very important for Pakistan not only in the context of economic prosperity but also in terms of the strong commitment and historic friendship that Beijing and Islamabad have maintained ever since their diplomatic relations began. Pakistan-China relations are multifaceted and, hence, there is much more to this bilateral equation than the economy only. Statistics on the development of CPEC projects speak for themselves. Ambassador Aizaz explained the nuances of negatives narratives and described how some of them have run their course. He said that we are holding this seminar to counter negative narratives and deliberate on how we should strategize narratives on CPEC.
In his introductory note, Dr. Talat Shabbir, Director CPSC, contextualised the need for strategizing narratives on CPEC and stated that the project is a mega venture which has been depicted in both positive and negative light. With falsified narratives being churned out in a massive amount, he furthered, the need for Pakistan to strategize its narratives on mega project like CPEC has increased even more.
Mr. Amir Jahangir, Chief Executive Officer of Mishal Pakistan, talked about understanding the narrative gap on CPEC. In a globalized world like ours, he said, new narratives are emerging with every interaction on social media, with every post and opinion article. He proposed that “synergizing of minds and mending of hearts is the creation of new hope for humanity” should be the new narrative of CPEC under the bigger context of Pakistan-China relations. Dr. Zafar Iqbal, Chairman Department of Media and Communication Studies IIUI, discussed the ever-growing importance of symbolic interactionism that has come to play an instrumental role in building narratives on any topic.
In his concluding remarks, Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, Chairman ISSI, stressed the need for counter-narratives to compete against the existing negative narratives on CPEC, particularly in the West. A series of seminars on this subject should be conducted so that ideas may come out and an inter-governmental group can also be set up including all stakeholders like all concerned ministries and civil society. This is how we can strategize the narratives on CPEC.
The seminar was attended by the diplomatic community, academics, media personnel, students, and think-tanks representatives.