pakistan

Salman Ahmad, founder of South Asia’s most successful rock band Junoon, has been on a rock and roll jihad (struggle) ever since his first concert at 18 – a medical school talent show in Lahore, Pakistan. Eyes closed, emotions pumped, he was ripping through Van Halen’s ‘Eruption’ on his guitar, mesmerized by the crowd’s screams, only to discover that the yelling was coming from a group of bearded students from a religious group outraged by music they considered un-Islamic.

If Pakistan were a person, who would it be? Would it be Odysseus, undergoing a series of grueling tests in order to claim its true heroic identity? Would it be a hapless Sancho Panza, looking on with alarm as it’s dragged into ruin by the misadventures of those around it?

This project assessed the impact of arts, culture, and media in Afghanistan and Pakistan, with the goal of developing recommendations for U.S. public diplomacy policy towards each country.

One of the mysteries of our day is that American hard power has been so ineffective for so many years in apprehending Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden (and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri), leaving the group free to use public diplomacy to speak to Muslim publics — especially to a Pakistani nation that distrusts the United States.

Newly minted President Obama offered an address this morning that can be viewed on many layers. An inaugural address is primarily a message to Americans and secondarily a message to the governments and peoples of the world. But in 2009, more than in most years, this address is a message from Americans to a global village about what America is, what America seeks to be, and how America intends to work with that global village.

MUMBAI -- Following the attacks here two weeks ago, much of the coverage on local media looks familiar: red banner stripes and logos with such phrases as "26/11 Fight against Terrorism". But it is not quite the same as US networks' "War on Terror".

There are "Indians of the Year", mini-package profiles of the soldiers and others who died during the fighting that occurred the week before last just down the street from my hotel, and live coverage of vigils and demonstrations. Also, the attack on Mumbai has been framed as attack on modernity. So far, again, it looks quite familiar.



Given that President Bush told journalists this summer that Pakistan will be the next American president's biggest foreign policy challenge, let's take a moment to consider the public-diplomacy issues for both sides now that the U.S. has a new President-elect.

My brother and I, accompanied by his brother-in-law, were driving to the posh and overpriced Dynasty Chinese restaurant in Islamabad’s Marriott hotel recently. Yet the tightwad in me convinced them that we could enjoy ourselves just as much by going to one of the many cheaper Chinese local restaurants. Soon after we heard the Marriott explosion a few miles away, it became clear we had saved more than money.

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