Business Recorder op-ed writer Ziaul Islam Zuberi in his article “The immigration scene” has highlighted an issue of very high import. The writer has argued, among other things, that “According to reports this year nearly a million people including a large number of professionals migrated from Pakistan and most of them ended up in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia has always been a favorite destination of migrants from Pakistan. ...For Pakistan the flow of immigrants threatens a brain drain that the country can ill afford.

Pakistani graduates from the finest universities opt out of the country after completing their education and thus the investment in their education does not benefit the country. It is hoped that this will change and our investment in the education and training of these young men and women will return the favor to help Pakistan achieve its goals in the years to come”.

It is true that Saudi Arabia and the UAE, among others, have been hosting millions of Pakistanis as expatriates. Workers’ remittances from this region and elsewhere constitute the mainstay of country’s foreign exchange proceeds as farming is the mainstay of our rural economy.

But I really do not know whether or not the semi-skilled or unskilled workforce hailing from Pakistan and working abroad really fits the definition of ‘brain drain’.

In Pakistan’s case, however, the ‘brain drain’ phenomenon is a deeply complex issue driven by various factors. The main reasons behind brain drain in Pakistan are higher population growth rate, limited job opportunities, growing political instability and better living standards abroad.

Although the writer has articulated a well-meaning argument, he, unfortunately, appears over-optimistic or too ready to believe that good things will happen in the country in the near future. Nevertheless, I’m happy that the writer has at least tried to show us a light at the end of the tunnel.

Haroon Mustafa (Karachi)

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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