Shahid Riaz (President, Pak-German Council for Culture and Democracy)

31.07.2010 - Interview conducted by Peter Hanley

Q1. In terms of Nation Branding, countries often focus on their unique selling points.  What is it that distinguishes Pakistan from other countries, and how can that be exploited for more tourism and economic growth?

As I showed in my presentation, there are a lot of things – mountaineering, desert safari – there’s a lot of things for tourism can be offered, but the main problem that Pakistan is facing is that when the tourists don’t feel safe, they are hesitating to come, so the first question to address is stability in Pakistan, and I hope that over the next few years Pakistan, with the help of the international community, will be successful in fighting terrorism and therefore Pakistan will be safer and there will be tourism, and after that maybe the government will focus more on exploiting the tourist opportunities here.

Q2. In comparison to other European countries, how receptive do you believe the German people are as a whole to the Muslim religion?

I have been living here for 13 years; I actually studied in Germany. I believe that German society is very much open to the Muslim society – there are a lot of Turks; there are many Pakistanis as well, and other Muslim communities. Personally I don’t feel any problem, and regarding acceptance of Muslims, the people of the community don’t have any problems.

Q3. How do you think soft power relationships can improve relations on a general scale between Pakistan and Germany?

Germany and Pakistan have historically good bilateral relations. There are many help projects run by the German government in Pakistan. There have been traditionally very good relations. Although, there should be more exchange of youngsters, more understanding and communication through media and among the young generation and NGOs. Overall, there should be more interaction, not only on a government level, but on a civil society level.