Ayman Zahid

Soft power is the ability of a country to persuade others to do what it wants without force
or coercion is now widely invoked in foreign policy goals.

Most of the developed states are using it to create a global positive image of their state. Pakistan is ranked at 63rd position in the Global soft power index, 2021.

Pakistan has huge untapped potential for soft power, and it can shape other preferences through tourism and sports.

Pakistan is blessed with four kinds of weather, lush green valleys, mountain ranges, diverse cultures, the roof of the world, religious tourism, a beautiful and attractive coastal line, and the world’s oldest civilizations.

Pakistan has the potential to develop its tourism industry globally which has significant capacity to show a good and peaceful image of Pakistan.

One of the recent developments of Pakistan is the marvelous Gwadar Cricket Stadium.
This stadium’s views, location, and infrastructure are making a name across the
borders.

Margalla Green Golf Club (MGGC) is also another prominent example.

At the  MGGC, one has an opportunity to play on one of Pakistan’s unique golf
courses. MGGC is known for its beauty to national and international tourists.

A number of international diplomats play golf and enjoy it at this club, as there are only two clubs in Islamabad.

These tourism & sports sites are the source of soft power in the Foreign Policy Goals of Pakistan. MGGC is open for public use and anyone can get a membership in it.

Along with Diplomatic engagements and a symbol of soft power, MGGC is also a source of
income for many civilian families.

The MGGC reorganized the park into an organized natural habitat that retains its originality and provides health and leisure facilities to the citizens.

Margalla National Park is the third-largest national park in the world, with an area of 42,960 acres. But one can compare clearly the beautiful 100 acres of Margalla Golf Club with the non-protected, 42860 acres of National Park.

No public funds were used to convert these green pastures from herbs and bushes to nicely cut greens and organized trees.

There are proper environmental laws to safeguard Margalla National Park and these laws
are only followed in Margalla Green Golf Club. The remaining Margalla National Park is
facing serious environmental threats due to the poor waste management of hill resorts.

Most of the time, the hotels were throwing wasted food items in the national park, which had badly disturbed the wildlife habitat. There is a massive cutting of trees at different sites
of the Park but due to corruption in institutions, the beauty of the national park is being
destroyed.

A major factor is the recurring Fires causing damage to the forest area. But some people have problems with only 0.1 percent protected Margalla National park, and they ignore the non-protected 99.9 percent area.

Various villages from Shah Allah Dita to Shardara (Saidpur, Ramli, Bari Imam, Sinyari, Nurpur, Kalenjar, Gokina and Talhar) are located in the National Park, which are also encroaching over National Park land.

There is also a misperception about this club that this is Naval Golf Club is run by
Pakistan Navy for commercial activities.

This misperception is 100 percent wrong, it neither being run by Pakistan Navy for commercial activities nor the area has encroached, nor made part of military land.

There is a huge wall with iron angles between Margalla Green Golf Club and Naval Complex, Sector E8, Islamabad. It would not be wrong to say that MGGC is the only beautiful and protected part of Margalla Hills.

It has enhanced the beauty of the environment. There are also 63 other tourist sites in Margalla Hills, but they are not protected, being misused and destroying the beauty of nature due to no check and balance.

For developing countries like Pakistan, such kinds of International sites can play a vital
role as a form of economic, public, and soft power.

Margalla Hills is rich in natural gifts, resources, and wonders. As a form of soft power, this site can play an active role in promoting people-to-people contact within the Asian region and globe and thereby promote peace, friendship, cooperation, and economic growth.

In this globalized world, where civil society, cities, and INGOs are becoming increasingly important in the development arena, soft power plays a vital role in multiplying Pakistan’s influence and increases the likelihood of success in its foreign policy objectives.

Hats off to the Islamabad High Court which is also spearheading the campaign for the preservation of Margalla National Park, but with all respect to the apex court its decision to cease Margalla Green Golf Club may not serve the purpose in the right sense as MGGC was not only providing healthy sports activities but also protecting & preserving the environmental laws.

*The writer is a PR specialist and public diplomat specializing in NUML Islamabad. 

**The Diplomatic Insight does not take any position on issues, and the views represented herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Diplomatic Insight and its staff.

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