Pakistan is a country blessed with talented individuals who excel in various walks of life both locally and internationally. However, due to a mixture of reasons, a lot of these talented individuals have become disillusioned with the current state of affairs in the country. The result is a brain drain that is leading to more and more Pakistanis lining up to leave the county every day. There are currently over 7 million Pakistanis living outside the country and I am one of these. I wanted to write an article about the reasons people are so intent on leaving the country and while I had my own reasons for departing back in 2009, I wasn’t really sure if these were representative of the majority of the overseas Pakistani community. Therefore, in order to gauge if others had similar motives for leaving, I decided to run a survey to gather information from overseas Pakistanis.
The below results are based on responses from members of the Pakistani diaspora who took the survey and outlines the major reasons that lead these individuals to move abroad in search of greener pastures. In addition, it also states the factors that will convince them to return to the country in future.
While there was a wide mix of respondents who took the survey, the majority of them are currently resident in Europe (54%) with respondents from Middle East (26%) following second. 82% of the respondents to the survey were male whereas the age demographics of the respondents showed that 71% of the respondents fell in the age bracket of 25 to 30 years. This spread of gender and age hints at the young generation’s inclination of looking for livelihood abroad and is also evidenced by the responses which are further detailed below. In addition, the responses also indicated that 70% of individuals have been resident outside the country for at least 3 years with 31% falling in the bracket of 5 to 10 years outside Pakistan. Only 18% of the respondents hold a nationality other than Pakistani.
The charts outline the statistics in relation to the respondents who took the survey
The main reasons for leaving Pakistan:
The most common reasons stated by the respondents for leaving Pakistan were better career opportunities and international exposure with 18% and 16% of the individuals respectively stating these as the main motives behind their departure. Financial incentives (15%), better standard of living (13%) and security concerns (13%) were next in line. At least 10% of the individuals agreed that they wanted to obtain another nationality.
The table below shows the response rate for the various reasons stated by the respondents to the survey:
Factors for returning to Pakistan:
When asked about the factors that would make them return to Pakistan, the majority stated political and economic stability in the country as the driving force behind their decision to return to the country with 19% of the respondents stating this as their answer. 17% of the individuals stated that better security conditions in the country might convince them to return whereas 15% respondents said that they would come back to join their families in Pakistan.
The table below shows the complete list of factors which the respondents stated would convince them to return to Pakistan:
Life outside Pakistan and future plans:
Perhaps the most overwhelming response to any question on the survey was that life outside Pakistan is generally better with 72% of the respondents agreeing to this. 8% of the respondents were not sure. However, on the other hand, 38% of the respondents stated that they want return to Pakistan whereas 41% stated that they were not sure of this. Only 8% of the individuals stated that they would not like to return to Pakistan in the future. In addition, 54% of the respondents also stated that they would want to move their dependents out of the country.
Although the above results might not be representative of all the individuals living outside Pakistan, however, they do show that majority of the individuals have become disappointed with the political, economic and security situation in the country and feel that life outside is much better in the current scenario. The silver lining though, is that a lot of individuals do intend to return to Pakistan in the future given that the situation does get better. I personally believe that the Pakistan diaspora are a great asset for the country and their international exposure and experiences can serve the country well. However, this can only been made possible by a committed and consistent effort by the government to counter issues plaguing the country.