Pakistan’s brain drain situation has aggravated this year, as more than 750,000 educated youth chose to seek employment overseas mainly because of uncertain economic and political situation amid a shrinking job opportunity in the country.
According to documents available to The Express Tribune, 765,000 people left Pakistan for abroad in 2022, nearly triple the 225,000 departures in 2021 and 288,000 emigrants in 2020. This year’s data also included 92,000 highly-educated people such as doctors, engineers, information technology experts and accountants.
According to the Bureau of Emigration, an overwhelming majority of the emigrants went to the Middle Eastern countries, mainly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Among the European destinations, the preferred choice of the Pakistanis appeared to be Romania.
“The effects of the deteriorating economic situation as well the political uncertainty have begun to affect the workforce of Pakistan,” a bureau official told The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity because he was not officially authorised to speak with the media.
“Hundreds of thousands of young men, including highly educated people, who are worried about inflation, unemployment and uncertain economic and political situation, are going abroad every year in search of employment,” the official added.
According to the official documents from the Bureau of Emigrants, this year 765,000 young people went abroad. The documents also showed that the number of emigrants had risen after registering a fall in two consecutive years, following 625,000 emigrations in 2019.
According to the documents, those who left the country in 2022, included more than 92,000 graduates, 350,000 trained workers and the same number of untrained labourers went abroad. The documents also showed that 736,000 people went to the Gulf states.
The emigrating educated youth included 5,534 engineers, 18,000 associate electrical engineers, 2,500 doctors, 2,000 computer experts, 6,500 accountants, 2,600 agricultural experts, over 900 teachers, 12,000 computer operators, 1,600 nurses and 21,517 technicians. The group of unskilled workers comprised 213,000 drivers.
According to the data, over 730,000 youth went to the Gulf States, nearly 40,000 went to European and other Asian countries. The country-wise break down of the data showed 470,000 Pakistanis headed to Saudi Arabia for employment, 119,000 to UAE, 77,000 to Oman, 51,634 to Qatar and 2,000 to Kuwait.
Also, according to the official documents, 2,000 Pakistanis went to Iraq, 5,000 to Malaysia, 602 to China, 815 to Japan, and 136 to Turkey. The documents also revealed that 478 Pakistan went to Sudan in Africa in search of employment.
The highest number of people emigrating to a European country was 3,160 youth, going to Romania. It was followed by 2,500 to Great Britain, 677 to Spain, 566 to Germany, 497 to Greece, and 292 to Italy. The Bureau of Emigrants also registered 700 people going to the United States.
More than half of those leaving the country were from Punjab. The documents said 424,000 emigrants this year were from Punjab, 206,000 from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa plus 38,000 from newly-merged tribal districts, 54,000 from Sindh, 27,000 from Azad Kashmir, 7,000 from Balochistan and 6,000 from Islamabad.