Surge in Migration Statistics
Recent data released by the Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment has unveiled a significant migration trend, with more than one million Pakistanis moving to Gulf countries since April of the previous year. According to a report by Middle East Eye, this substantial relocation wave has seen around 700,000 individuals migrating to Saudi Arabia, followed by 229,000 to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), over 100,000 to Oman, and approximately 90,000 to Qatar.
Escalating Application Numbers
The Directorate General of Immigration & Passports has noted a sharp uptick in daily migration applications, surging from 24,000 to 40,000. To address this escalating demand, initiatives are being launched to augment the workforce and expedite the application processing time.
Root Causes: Political, Economic Despondency
Imtiaz Gul, a seasoned journalist, shed light on the underlying factors driving this migration trend. He highlighted the prevailing sense of hopelessness among Pakistani youth due to the country’s ongoing political and economic challenges. Gul emphasized that he personally knows numerous individuals who are either relocating abroad or liquidating their assets to facilitate such a move. He noted that this level of mass migration is unprecedented.
Economic Downturn Amplifies Migration
Compounding these factors is Pakistan’s ailing economy. While the country recorded a GDP growth rate of 6.1 percent the previous year, it has since plummeted to a mere 0.3 percent, indicating a substantial decline. The crucial large-scale manufacturing sector, pivotal for the nation’s economy, has slipped into a recessionary phase. Last year’s growth rate of 10.6 percent has alarmingly tumbled to a staggering -8.11 percent.
Economic Woes Impact Multiple Sectors
The automobile industry, a significant player in Pakistan’s economic landscape, has seen a dramatic 80 percent decline in sales. Simultaneously, a stringent clampdown on imports, aimed at curbing foreign exchange outflows, has dealt a severe blow to the textile sector, leaving nearly seven million workers unemployed.
Consequences of Skilled Labor Exodus
Economist and former government advisor Kaiser Bengali voiced apprehensions regarding the long-term impact of skilled workers leaving the country. He pointed out that when these skilled individuals migrate, they often take their families along, resulting in a decline in remittances. Kaiser underscored the growing skills gap within Pakistan, stating that it is not only affecting the country’s business capacity but also depleting its skill reservoir.
He cautioned that this dearth of skilled labor could be conspicuous to foreign investors upon their future return to Pakistan, potentially hindering economic progress.