Home Point of View The Exodus of Talent from Pakistan

The Exodus of Talent from Pakistan

The Exodus of Talent from Pakistan
Image Courtesy: Focus Malaysia

In the first half of this year alone, over 832,000 people have ventured abroad

Zaheer Udin Babar Junejo

The phenomenon of “brain drain,” where a significant number of young individuals seek employment opportunities abroad, has been a persistent issue in recent years. Over the past five years, a staggering 2.75 million young people have left our country, as reported by official data. Experts attribute this brain drain to uncertain economic conditions, rising inflation, and high unemployment rates. Notably, this phenomenon is not confined to a specific region; it affects the entire country. According to official documents, during the tenure of the previous coalition government, more than 1.2 million young people have gone overseas in search of employment. In the first half of this year alone, over 832,000 people have ventured abroad, with more than 400,000 seeking employment in 40 different sectors. Among these migrants are highly educated and highly trained young individuals.

During the last year and a half, 683,000 youths left the country from Punjab, 324,000 from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 90,000 from Sindh, and 12,000 from Balochistan

A closer look at the data reveals that those who left the country in the last year and a half included 11,000 accountants, 11,000 engineers, 4,000 doctors, 34,000 technicians, and 37,500 managers. Others include 4,000 nurses, 1,560 teachers, 29,000 electricians, 13,445 computer typists, 8,000 agricultural experts, 15,000 computer operators, 24,000 supervisors, and over 1,600 draftsmen. In their pursuit of better employment opportunities, the majority of Pakistani youth have chosen to go to Arab countries, with 700,000 heading to Saudi Arabia, 229,000 to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), 111,000 to Oman, and 90,000 to Qatar. Beyond the Middle Eastern region, approximately 8,000 Pakistanis have migrated to Great Britain, over 1,300 to the United States, more than 20,000 to Malaysia, 3,000 to Greece, and over 6,000 to Romania.

The statistics further reveal that during the last year and a half, 683,000 youths left the country from Punjab, 324,000 from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 90,000 from Sindh, 12,000 from Balochistan, 44,000 from Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and 11,000 from Islamabad. Official data indicates that 382,000 individuals left the country in 2018, followed by 625,000 in 2019, 225,000 in 2020, and 288,000 in 2021. Among those who left Pakistan, there were 200,000 highly-educated individuals and over 400,000 highly-trained youths.

While our youth undoubtedly play a crucial role in contributing to the well-being of our nation, the persistent brain drain poses significant challenges. It leads to a loss of talent, negatively impacts our economy, creates dependency on remittances, causes demographic imbalances, and hampers innovation and technological advancement. To mitigate these consequences, it is essential to implement policies that encourage talent retention, create attractive job opportunities, enhance education and research institutions, and foster a supportive environment for innovation and entrepreneurship. Additionally, efforts should be made to encourage the return of emigrants, ultimately promoting “brain gain” and benefiting our nation’s development.

The government should prioritize creating a conducive environment for young professionals

Addressing the issue of brain drain requires a multifaceted approach involving not only government policies but also cooperation from various sectors of society. The government should prioritize creating a conducive environment for young professionals. This must include investing in quality and high-tech education, and research institutions to ensure that young people have the skills and opportunities they need domestically. Appropriate and swift availability of capital required by young entrepreneurs, formulation and execution of policies that promote entrepreneurship and creation should be a focal point of economic planning. The employer and state should ensure a fair and competitive labor market, instrumental in retaining talent. Labor laws should be modernized, ensuring job security and fair compensation, and reducing the attraction of foreign job markets. Government at all levels must establish channels of communication with the Pakistani diaspora to encourage them to contribute to the homeland’s development. This may include mentorship programs, Ustaad Shagrid concepts, investment incentives, and knowledge-sharing initiatives. Civil society must come forward to encourage research and innovation within the country which surely can stem the flow of talent. Easily accessible Funding for research, creating technology hubs, and providing support for startups may also help create attractive opportunities for the youth. Communities and families should also play a role in building a civic sense, which ensures and encourages young people to stay or return. Emphasizing the value of contributing to their own society and the potential for making a positive impact can influence individual decisions. While the phenomenon of brain drain poses significant challenges, it also presents opportunities. By recognizing the importance of the youth in nation-building and implementing effective strategies to retain and harness their potential, we can mitigate the negative consequences of emigration. This requires a collective effort from government, society, and the international community to create a brighter future for our nation and our youth.

Also read: Pakistan brain drain accelerates in latest threat to ailing economy


Zaheer-JunejoZaheer Udin Babar Junejo, based in Hyderabad, is a specialist in Institutional Development, MEAL (Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability, and Learning), and Fundraising.



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