Recently, I was abroad – England and Saudi Arabia. Both countries are home to millions of Pakistanis, whom we say overseas Pakistanis. Their life is not a bed of roses there but they work day and night to feed their families back in Pakistan. Despite these facts, every second Pakistani is willing to go abroad.
Pakistan is a country that has been plagued by civil unrest, economic instability, and political turmoil for much of its history. Over the past few decades, these issues have resulted in a significant exodus of human capital from Pakistan-people seeking more stable opportunities abroad. This flight of human capital has had far-reaching implications for both the economy and society as a whole.
At present, there are an estimated 1 million Pakistani citizens living abroad, with 40% having left since 2009 alone. This number continues to grow year after year as individuals seek better job prospects and safer lives outside their home nation. The majority end up in countries such as the UK, USA, Canada, or Australia, while others settle in Europe or in neighboring countries, such as China.
In a survey conducted recently, 60 percent of the young Pakistanis said that they wanted to leave the country to find better opportunities abroad. This stems from the poor economic, political, and social situation of the country. Young graduates are unable to find jobs even after completing degree after degree from well-known universities in the country. Companies offer the minimum wage to a university graduate, without any perks or benefits, and doing the job costs the employee more than it would if they stayed at home. Moreover, there is little to no job security. The situation is even worse for women and those belonging to minority communities, as they are discriminated against on the basis of their gender, religious affiliation, or social standing.
This outflow of human resources comes at great cost to Pakistan’s development potential – particularly when it comes to science and technology (S&T). Many skilled technical workers often leave for higher salaries and greater job security elsewhere, leaving their home nation without access to important skill sets necessary for growth and innovation within key industries such as telecommunications and IT networks, medical research, and biotechnology. Without these S&T specialists working within key sectors, it becomes difficult for local businesses/industries to compete effectively against foreign competitors due to a lack of experience / knowhow within this area – resulting in reduced productivity levels overall within the national economy.
Furthermore, the loss of highly talented individuals can also worsen existing social divisions within communities across Pakistan, which creates further difficulties, especially among disadvantaged groups, who often find themselves less able to gain employment compared to those with more favorable backgrounds. This problem is only exacerbated by poorer education standards nationwide, which are leading many young students towards emigration rather than pursuing studies locally.
With all this being said, efforts must be made by policymakers and other authorities alike if they wish to stem this tide of talent migration away from Pakistan. Improving wages/salary structures across key sectors should be one measure considered alongside investing heavily into educational facilities so that future generations don’t feel inclined towards seeking work overseas instead. Additionally, measures should also be taken to address wider socio-economic divides between different areas or regions throughout the country, helping ensure no one feels excluded from taking part fully in public life regardless of background, etc. Ultimately, however, only time will tell whether any meaningful progress can be made here given all the current challenges faced domestically.