Can you imagine a country whose 40-60% of the youth population wants to depart from it for the sake of prosperity, a more prolific and secure life that they assume is available in Europe and America? This can hardly be imagined in a country like Pakistan facing default with a stumbling economy, augmentation in the militancy, soaring unemployment, sky-high inflation, and, most concerning among all, political instability.
This very brain drain process has been seen since 1971, but recent statistics, which elicit shocking numbers, are record-breaking. Due to scarce economic opportunities, shrinking freedom, political instability, and security threats, militants, which are the base for any nation, are hurriedly fleeing out of this complex woven country. Suppose these leading factors behind this boom of immigration are not addressed according to the needs; one day, it will result. In that case, only powerful elites, including government officials, establishment, and militant groups, will be left behind in the country, leaving all lower-middle class in foreign countries. It will no more be called a state as it will be left bare a laboratory where all sorts of experiments will be made and executed by everyone holding reins.
Firstly, let us look at the shocking statistics about the escalation in immigration. According to data released by the Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment, about 832339, out of which 92000 (STEM) degree holders, have departed the country in 2022; as far as it is concerned, this number will be doubled this year as just in first five months of the 2023 year it has reached 315787. It is feared that more than a million people will fly out of the country for a job this year. Among these are the people who are the highly qualified engineers, doctors, accountants, managers, and proficient, skilled laborers who are fleeing out of the motherland in a very deplorable situation being harbored domestically.
Extravagances, better resources being provided to the citizens, and a healthy and secure life is the appeasements that act as the driving force behind this implicit act of immigration against the society being provided by the Pakistani state. So people in the persuasion of that ideal lifestyle unthinkingly follow the visa agents by any means, legally or illegally. They just wanted to quit Pakistan.
They fall prey to human traffickers in this process, as last month, the Greece boat incident severely caused the death of 300 Pakistanis because they were illegally going to Europe for a better life there were sick of Pakistani life being overwhelmed by the strings of high inflation and unemployment, but unfortunately, their rotten boat sank.
Although we have seen shocking statistics, one wonders what makes them fly out of the country. Don’t they love their family? Who will they leave behind, friends with whom they have spent years, and don’t they admire patriotism for their homeland? It was taught to them in the very anthem of Pakistan by calling it “Pak Sar Zameen Shad Abad.” They will miss every bond made with family, friends, streets on which they have played, and the sense of patriotism for their country that the state institutions have made no longer liveable.
Pakistan’s governments remained inadequate to provide better socio-economic opportunities for young minds, instead worsening the economy, which is now on the verge of sovereign default, and weaving itself in the vicious cycle of internal and external debts. Shrinking freedom is also one of the leading factors behind it, as freedom of speech was deprived a long time ago, and state institutions started controlling the personal lives of the citizens. Using religion for political gains since the inception of Pakistan brought it to this deplorable and quagmire state.
So, youth find themselves in a complex structure that is so difficult to break, find themselves in a stumbling economy with soaring unemployment rate and inflation, find themselves in a social order where life is uncertain due to terrorist attacks, and find themselves where the state is again doing nothing for them. So, the only option that remains is to quit the country for the sake of good.
By considering these vicious reasons for the high immigration rate, one can derive solutions by keeping in mind the social, economic, and political order being offered to the citizens. For the sake of prosperity, people have left only the option of working abroad as the state is offering no such platform where they can work and uplift their social status. If the government wants to reduce the number of people leaving the country, it should invest more and more to create better jobs for them to live prosperous lives.
Another reason that needs to be addressed on an urgent basis is the threat posed by militant groups. Irrespective of agreements between state and militant groups, many attacks have occurred in the province of KP and Balochistan. It is argued that these groups are being harbored under the flag of Taliban regime. So, the security policy of the Taliban Government must be reviewed so peace can prevail in the region. A deplorable situation among youth has prevailed due to political instability, which has remained the main realm since the inception of Pakistan,
Barracks in the way of democracy have been seen many times in the form of martial laws. So, all Pakistan needs is a stable democracy under strong leadership and political will that aims to eradicate poverty and unemployment and to get economic stability, which will garner a strong society being provided with the required resources to meet its needs. Another thing that must be mentioned is that the state often relies on Forex Reserves and admires foreign Pakistanis as they send dollars as remittances to support the economy. Still, no one ever thinks about what benefits they can cause to the economy if they are provided with job opportunities domestically. A sovereign nation cannot inspire its citizens to leave the country just for remittances.
In the end, it is strongly recommended for the government of Pakistan to review the current situations and threats posed to the society so that it can become a sovereign state. It needs to provide better opportunities to students as well as other labor. Economic stability is needed at this time so that soaring unemployment and inflation can be receded and people can live prosperous lives.
Pakistan also needs to review its foreign policy with Afghanistan so that the severe challenge of militant groups can be handled professionally. In the country, strong political commitments are urgently needed to address the threats posed to society so that it can become a developed nation with a stable economy, better resources, and a specific population matching those resources. As Lal Bahadur Shastri said;
“We can win respect in the world only if we are strong internally and can banish poverty and unemployment from our country. “
The writer is a student at School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-I-Azam University, Islamabad.