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Economy in drain, Pakistan losing its brain, at record rate

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Pakistan saw a record number of over 8 lakh people leaving the country. That too just in the first six months of the year. Among them were a lakh highly trained professionals, hinting at a huge brain drain from the country facing a crumbled economy and plagued by Islamic fundamentalism.

People are deserting Pakistan and that too, in record numbers. With an economy that has crumbled and the country seeing record-high inflation, over eight lakh Pakistanis left the country in the first six months of this year, creating a new record. Of them, a lakh were highly trained professionals, including doctors, nurses, engineers, information technology (IT) experts and accountants.

The official figures, however, could just be half the story, as thousands more are taking the illegal route to Europe.

According to a report quoting figures from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, 8.32 lakh Pakistanis have left Pakistan till June this year. About 4 lakh were educated and qualified professionals.

Though Pakistan has been a witness to large-scale emigration in recent years, what could be of particular concern to it is trained professionals leaving the country in droves.

With rising unemployment, skyrocketing inflation, a collapsed economy, political uncertainty and a rise in fundamentalism, the ground is best-suited for brain drain.

MOST EMIGRANTS FROM PAKISTAN’S PUNJAB

Pakistan has been a witness to rising emigration in recent years.

Last year, about 7.65 lakh people left Pakistan. Of them, about a lakh were highly skilled professionals.

More than half of the emigrants were from Pakistan’s Punjab province, according to an Express Tribune report, which quoted Pakistan Bureau of Emigration data. About 27,000 were from Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK).

The 2022 figure was three times the figure of 2021 when 2.25 lakh Pakistanis emigrated to other countries. In 2020, 2.8 lakh Pakistanis left the country for foreign shores. What needs to be kept in mind is that both 2020 and 2021 were pandemic years when travel restrictions were in place across the world.

Officially, the majority of Pakistanis are emigrating to West Asian countries, mainly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), according to an Express Tribune report of 2022. Among the European destinations, the report said, the preferred choice of the Pakistanis was Romania.

Unlike India, which doesn’t allow dual citizenship, Pakistanis emigrating to another country can retain their Pakistani passport and use it for travel too.At least seven ministers in former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Cabinet either had dual nationality or another country’s permanent residency. This dual citizenship provision has been one of the root causes of corruption in Pakistan, with funds being siphoned off abroad by politicians and military generals.

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