In the face of a crumbling economy and surging inflation, Pakistan is witnessing an unprecedented exodus of its people, and the numbers are staggering. A whopping eight lakh Pakistanis bid farewell to their homeland in the first half of this year alone, setting a grim new record. What’s more alarming is that among them were a hundred thousand highly skilled professionals, including doctors, nurses, engineers, IT experts, and accountants.
While official figures paint a dire picture, the reality could be even bleaker, as thousands more are believed to be resorting to illegal means to reach Europe.
According to data from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, a staggering 8.32 lakh Pakistanis left the country by June this year, and astonishingly, a significant portion of them, four lakhs, were educated and qualified professionals.
The situation has raised serious concerns as Pakistan has been grappling with large-scale emigration in recent years, but the mass departure of trained professionals is particularly worrisome. The perfect storm of rising unemployment, a collapsed economy, political instability, surging fundamentalism, and brain drain has set the stage for this troubling trend.
In the preceding year, approximately 7.65 lakh individuals left Pakistan, and out of those, a hundred thousand were highly skilled professionals. Most of the emigrants hailed from Punjab province, with around 27,000 from Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK).
It is essential to note that the 2022 figure was three times higher than the numbers seen in 2021, a year marked by pandemic-related travel restrictions worldwide. Even in 2020, when the pandemic struck, 2.8 lakh Pakistanis sought better opportunities abroad.
Officially, a significant portion of the emigrants are heading to West Asian countries, primarily Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as reported in the Express Tribune in 2022. Among the European destinations, Romania emerged as a preferred choice for Pakistani emigrants.
Unlike its neighboring country, India, Pakistan permits dual citizenship, allowing its citizens emigrating to other nations to retain their Pakistani passports and use them for travel as well. This provision has, however, fueled corruption in Pakistan, with some politicians and military generals channeling funds abroad due to their dual citizenship status.
The brain drain phenomenon is not only a matter of concern for the individuals and families involved but also poses significant challenges to Pakistan’s economic growth and development. Addressing the root causes of this mass exodus is crucial to reverse the tide and ensure a brighter future for the nation.