The Role of Public Diplomacy in U.S. Counter Violent Extremism Policy: A Case Study of Pakistan



Latif, Farah

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Public diplomacy (PD) has been a crucial tool in United States’ international relations, especially since the Cold War era. Until the fall of the Soviet Union, the word PD was synonymously used with coercive terms such as propaganda and psychological warfare. Public diplomacy still holds these negative stereotypes. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 revived the need for PD, only this time for a radically different purpose to counter terrorism and violent extremism. The information age, technology and changing international affairs require that PD is viewed in a new way of strategic communication and be practiced keeping in mind the demands of the information age stakeholders. Currently, PD literature does not provide a definition that is widely acceptable and without which understanding of PD suffers, consequently, the United States government may be spending national resources wastefully. The researcher presents a framework of PD practice, based on Burkart’s (1994, 2007) consensus-oriented public relations (COPR). Burkart (1994, 2007) is inspired by Jürgen Habermas, especially in its emphasis on ethical considerations in communication. The researcher conducted 13 in-depth interviews with professionals and scholars with a broad range of expertise and used textual analysis of scholarly journals, books, official government reports, online texts from credible research institutes, newspapers and Senate hearings to examine the role of PD to counter violent extremism in Pakistan. The research suggested that there are inconsistencies in various U.S. agencies in how they understand and practice PD. Moreover, the study sheds light on the modern-day challenge in PD especially difficulties met in conducting PD in Pakistan which reiterates the view that PD needs a theoretical and practical overhaul. Finally, the researcher makes recommendations that will help the advancement of the profession of PD, and its role in an important mission such as the counter violent extremism (CVE). Key words: U.S. State Department, public diplomacy, PD practitioners, PD theory, consensus-oriented PD, Jürgen Habermas, Burkart, Pakistan, terrorism, counter violent extremism.



US public diplomacy, Consensus building, Counter violent extremism, Pakistan