Shahram Akbarzadeh, Zahid Shahab Ahmed, Niamatullah Ibrahimi
Shahram Akbarzadeh, Zahid Shahab Ahmed, Niamatullah Ibrahimi, Asian Politics and Policy
Publication year: 2021

States use elements of their culture to promote their influence in countries of strategic importance to them. Despite a growing body of literature on soft power, there is a shortage of literature on Iran’s influence in its neighbourhood. How is Iran viewed in Pakistan? This article is based on in-depth interviews and an online survey with informed participants in Pakistan. Our findings demonstrate that while many participants view Tehran’s policies negatively, the majority see Iran in a favourable light. This article found that Iran’s multi-pronged strategy connects with pre-existing trends and pressure points in Pakistan at different levels. As a majority-Shi’a country, Iran has become a point of reference for the Shi’a community in Pakistan. Its anti-American rhetoric corresponds with an anti-US current in Pakistan, and Tehran’s invocation of Persian culture and poetry resonates with a nostalgic view of Persian culture amongst Pakistan’s educated elite.