Brain drain: Ten million Pakistanis out for greener pastures

Fresh graduates make the highest number of individuals who have left Pakistan

Waqas Ahmed December 20, 2019

ISLAMABAD: With an increasing number of skilled individuals leaving the country for greener pastures, Pakistan might be on the brink of losing its brain capital.

According to a report provided by the Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment, more than ten million Pakistani citizens have bid-adieu to the country for better professional and financial opportunities.

Experts believe the field of engineering has taken the worst hit. "The field of engineering is the worst hit due to lack of development in the country," said Chairman Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) Javed Saleem Qureshi.

"There are almost no jobs in this field. That is the number one reason for engineers to leave the country," he PEC chairman added.

With inflation rising and economic uncertainty gripping the country, more and more skilled professionals opt to leave Pakistan. Unemployment is another factor that forces professionals to exit the country.

In the last two years alone, some 884,000 young Pakistani have left the country, according to the official registrations at the bureau of emigration.

The record indicates more than 300,000 Pakistanis left the country in 2018. The figure soared to 500,000 this year. The data from the bureau shows a growing trend of what easily qualifies as the flight of human capital from the country. Most of these individuals are fresh graduates from local universities.

The document further shows that more than 29,000 highly educated Pakistanis decided to leave the country during this period. Similarly, over 17,000 highly trained and 369,000 skilled individuals left the country for jobs elsewhere in the world. Apart from skilled individuals, more than 340,000 from the labor force left the country.

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Close examination of the figures provided by the bureau reveals about 10,000 engineers, 3,500 doctors, and 9,500 accountants traveled abroad for jobs during the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government's tenure, which came into power with the promise of reducing unemployment in the country.

For engineers in Pakistan, the PEC chairman urged the government to create opportunities. "There are 276,000 registered engineers in Pakistan, out of which more than 60,000 are jobless," he said. "Lack of development in the country leaves the engineers with no option but to leave the country," he added.

Taking a potshot at the academic system in the country, the PEC chairman said: "Our system of education is deeply flawed. We need competent people to be in this field."

In the last two years, 25,000 electricians, 3,000 teachers, 2,500 pharmacists, 500 nurses, and 13,000 Pakistanis skilled in the agriculture department left the country for foreign offerings.

Common destinations

Details provided by the Bureau of Emigration show Saudi Arabia as the most feasible destination for Pakistani workers. More than 5.3million moved to the kingdom for better opportunities. The United Arab Emirates took the second spot with 3.8million Pakistani citizens seeking better professional opportunities in the country. Similarly,

791, 000 left for Oman, 183,505 for Qatar, 171,428 for Bahrain, 183, 601 for Kuwait, 106,652 for Malaysia, 74, 624 for Iraq, 12,879 for Iran, and 13, 544 for Britain and about 6,000 left for the US.

A Reuters file photo of passengers at an airport. A Reuters file photo of passengers at an airport.

Fleeing doctors

More than 25, 500 doctors were also forced to look for better opportunities outside Pakistan. The Chairman of the Young Doctor Association, Dr. Asfandyar, also blamed the flawed economic policies for the exodus. "Misplaced economic priorities are to be blamed for the exodus. The healthcare sector is in shambles," he said. "The future of our young doctors is secure outside Pakistan," he added. With public hospitals in a dismal state, he said it was tough to find jobs in the private sector. "The only way the government can prevent people from leaving the country is by improving the state of the healthcare sector," Dr. Asfandyar said.

Representational image. PHOTO: REUTERS Representational image. PHOTO: REUTERS


Officially registered individuals end up sending foreign currency back to Pakistan. According to the statistics issued by the overseas Pakistani Ministry, $ 19.9million foreign exchange during 2017-2018 while $ 21.8 million during 2018-2019.

According to the report, overseas Pakistanis dispatched $ 74.7 million in foreign exchange to Pakistan in the first four months of the current year.

Representational image. PHOTO: REUTERS Representational image. PHOTO: REUTERS


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