Khalida Niaz

Farhana, hailing from the Peshawar district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, stands as a representative among the countless Pakistanis compelled to depart the nation this year due to the harsh grip of poverty and inflation. As documented in the most recent Immigration Bureau report, a staggering four and a half lakh Pakistanis embarked on journeys abroad within the initial half of this year.

Sharing her story with TNN, Farhana recounted her voyage from Pakistan to the United Kingdom on the 13th of January, driven by a dwindling optimism for her homeland’s prospects.

She emphasized the deteriorating conditions within Pakistan, a steady decay that prodded her to seek opportunities beyond borders to carve her career path. With a heavy heart, Farhana expressed her motivation to leave her homeland, where the lack of job opportunities and a dim outlook for a better future left her with no choice.

The Difficult Path of Emigration

Leaving one’s homeland is an arduous step, as highlighted by Farhana. Compelled circumstances drive many to take this difficult decision. Transitioning to a foreign country and establishing a new life there is a formidable undertaking. The initial phase is riddled with challenges; securing accommodation, adapting to a novel environment, and, most significantly, procuring employment – all pose immense hurdles.

As per the statistics from the sixth census, Pakistan’s population exceeds 210 million, with a substantial portion constituting the youth. According to UNDP figures, a staggering 64 percent of the nation’s populace falls under the age of thirty.

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Farhana expressed a poignant sentiment toward Pakistan’s predicament, lamenting the lack of attention given to its pressing economic issues. She underscored the regrettable truth that despite the evident concerns, economic struggles remain largely unaddressed.

She further highlighted the commendable efforts of numerous young students who, armed with visas, earnestly toil abroad, shouldering the dual responsibility of supporting their families while striving for personal growth.

Neglected Youth: Government’s Oversight

In response to a query, Farhana lamented the government’s inaction in addressing the needs of the nation’s youth. She asserted that if the Pakistani government had initiated measures to secure employment opportunities for young individuals, the mass exodus to foreign lands could have been averted. However, the government remains conspicuously indifferent to this pressing concern.

The report illustrates a diverse array of professionals seeking better prospects abroad, including doctors, engineers, information technology experts, salespersons, and general laborers.

Among the favored destinations, Saudi Arabia emerges as the primary choice for most Pakistani migrants. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) secures the second spot, followed by Qatar, Oman, and Malaysia in third, fourth, and fifth places respectively.

Conversely, a comparatively smaller number of individuals chose other global destinations like South Korea, Japan, Germany, China, Italy, and France for their migration journey from Pakistan.

Saudi Arabia Beckons: Migration Exceeding 200,000

The comprehensive report reveals that Saudi Arabia stands as the foremost choice, with more than 200,000 Pakistani migrants seeking opportunities within its borders. Furthermore, over 120,000 individuals ventured to the United Arab Emirates, while Qatar saw more than 35,000 Pakistanis settling within its confines.

Similarly, Oman has welcomed more than 34,000 Pakistani migrants, Bahrain boasts an intake of about 8,000, and Malaysia has drawn in excess of 16,000 Pakistani workers, all striving for better livelihoods. The preceding year witnessed a substantial exodus of eight and a half million Pakistanis departing for international destinations.

Echoing Farhana’s sentiment, Rukhsana from Orakzai district is also aspiring to secure her future by seeking opportunities beyond Pakistan’s borders. Speaking with TNN, Rukhsana expressed her concerns about Pakistan’s deteriorating circumstances and the prevailing perception of impending financial turmoil. With these fears in mind, she too aims to venture abroad and initiate her own endeavors.

Rukhsana emphasized the staggering youth population within Pakistan juxtaposed with the scarcity of employment opportunities. Despite completing their education, many youths are relegated to mere two to three-month internships with no subsequent job prospects.

Disenchanted Youth: A Bleak Reality

Rukhsana starkly highlights the disillusionment that permeates the minds of the youth, rendering them seemingly oblivious to the harrowing and life-threatening consequences of illegal migration. Tragically, many young lives have been lost in the perilous pursuit of unauthorized journeys towards Europe.

Presently, Pakistan grapples with the simultaneous escalation of poverty, inflation, and unemployment, which has prompted a significant portion of the youth to yearn for foreign shores.

Conversely, Dr. Sulaiman Amin, a respected Economics Professor at Peshawar University, offers a contrasting perspective. He views the prevailing economic challenges as transient. In a candid conversation with TNN, he acknowledges the prevailing disillusionment among the youth, acknowledging their perception that Pakistan holds no promise for them. However, he emphasizes that this belief doesn’t reflect reality. Dr. Amin reassures that the nation will inevitably emerge from these trying circumstances, instilling hope for a better future.

Unyielding Soar of the Dollar

The relentless ascent of the dollar remains an unwavering concern as inflation persists in its daily ascent. This economic turmoil serves as a prime impetus driving the aspiration of many young individuals to seek opportunities abroad.

Dr. Sulaiman Amin, a prominent figure in the field of Economics and a professor at Peshawar University, acknowledges the silver lining that overseas migrants can potentially contribute foreign exchange to the country. However, he laments that the current emigrants depart with a sense of despondency, erroneously believing that their homeland holds no promise or potential for them. In truth, the situation isn’t as bleak as they perceive.

Dr. Amin attributes the ongoing challenges to the absence of a stable government. He predicts that following upcoming elections and government initiatives, improvements in the economic scenario can be expected.

He calls upon the government to instigate developmental projects and formulate entrepreneurial policies as a countermeasure to the pervasive disillusionment among the youth. By doing so, the government can facilitate an environment that cultivates entrepreneurship within the country, eradicating the need for young individuals to seek greener pastures abroad.

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