US-Pakistan relations: ‘Public diplomacy can bridge cultural gaps’

US under secretary interacts with students during her trip to the city.

Our Correspondent June 01, 2012


The United States intends to use its public diplomacy efforts in Pakistan to bridge the differences between the people of the two countries, newly-appointed US Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine said on Friday.

She was speaking to a gathering at Kinnaird College University during her day-long visit of the city.

“The under secretary’s goal is to better understand ways through which public diplomacy can bolster US-Pakistan relations,” said a US Consulate General statement.

Under Secretary Sonenshine mentioned Fulbright graduate scholarship programme for Pakistan as an example of public diplomacy initiatives to improve people-to-people relations. She said it was the largest such programme.

“The US is also funding an English language education programme for underprivileged students in Pakistan,” she said. Other programmes included university-level linkages and cultural exchanges such as US jazz musicians’ recent visit to Lahore, she added.

“As citizens of one planet, we face shared challenges and should find ways to tackle them together,” she said.

She said the US government intended to use public diplomacy efforts to empower, engage with and support people all over the world.

Her address was followed by a question and answer session.

The under secretary’s delegation included US Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Diplomacy (South and Central Asia) Jim Moore, US Consul General Lahore Nina M Fite and US Mission Pakistan Director of Strategic Communication Tom Miller.

Under Secretary Sonenshine also participated in a US exchange alumni’s community service project at the SOS Village.  She joined the youth exchange programme participants in repainting a playground at the SOS village.

Later, she participated in a group discussion with the graduates of a US-funded after-school English language education programme.

Her other activities in the city included visits to the mid-18th century Sunehri Mosque in the Walled City and the Minar-i-Pakistan.

The US government, under the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation, has provided $67,500 for restora.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 2nd, 2012.

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