The ever-worsening economic crisis is forcing the youth to flee the country in hopes of building a better future
he Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment estimates that 832,229 Pakistanis left their country in 2022. More than 750,000 young Pakistanis are thought to have left the country in 2023. This is a significant and alarming number. It is not a positive sign when young, educated people migrate; this means that the talent and manpower that could have made a substantial contribution is being lost. According to a survey conducted by the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), 62 per cent of young Pakistani men between the ages of 15 and 24 wish to leave the country. The issues causing young talent to leave the country must be understood and analysed. Unemployment and a lack of opportunities, inflation, sky-high food and energy prices, and the effects of climate change are all significant problems.
The most significant reason for our young generation to leave the country in search of a better future abroad is unemployment and a lack of opportunities in the country. Pakistan is one of the youngest nations in the world and the second youngest in South Asia, after Afghanistan, according to the National Human Development Report (2018). Sixty-four per cent of the overall population is under the age of 30, and 29 per cent is between the ages of 15 and 29.
A large number of youths in the country are neither in employment, education or training (NEET). The NEET rate is the proportion of the youth population that is not in education, employed or in training. In comparison to youth unemployment, it provides a more complete picture of prospective youth labour market participation because it covers young people who are not in education, employment or training. Gallup Pakistan estimates that 21.8 million of the 58.6 million young people (aged 15 to 29) in the country are not enrolled in school, training programmes, or working in any job. A 37 per cent NEET rate is the result of this.
The second most important factor is an economic crisis, the inflation rate in Pakistan rose from 24.5 per cent in December 2022 to 27.6 per cent in January 2023. It’s the highest level in 47 years. According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, the consumer price index for the month of January 2023 rose by 2.88 per cent over December 2022. In the past one and a half years, fuel costs in Pakistan have climbed by more than 100 per cent. Petrol was priced at Rs 119.25 per litre in September 2021; this rose to Rs 272 per litre in March 2023, a 128 per cent rise.
A young software developer, Salman sharing his experience, told TNS, “I commute daily for work from Rawalpindi to Islamabad. Over the past year, my expenditure rose by more than 100 per cent. Not only is fuel becoming more expensive, but everything else is as well, yet earnings have stayed the same. It’s getting harder and harder to live a decent life here. Therefore, I and several of my friends have applied for immigration to Australia.”
According to a survey conducted by the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), 62 per cent of young Pakistani men between the ages of 15 and 24 wish to leave the country. The issues causing young talent to leave the country must be understood and analysed. Unemployment and a lack of opportunities, inflation, sky-high food and energy prices, and the effects of climate change are all significant problems.
Pakistan is also prone to disasters and other emergencies; the country is listed as the ninth most vulnerable nation in the world to long-term climate risk in the Global Climate Risk Index (2021). Extreme weather disasters have occurred in recent years. The floods in 2022 directly affected 33 million people in Pakistan and a third of the country was under water. According to the Pakistan floods 2022 post-disaster need assessment report by the Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, the damage is estimated at Rs 3.2 trillion, the total loss at Rs 3.3 trillion, and the need at Rs 3.5 trillion.
In these circumstances, many only see migration as a way of overcoming their problems and securing a better future for their families. Many immigration programmes and schemes offered by countries short on human resources, like Canada, Australia, etc, attract young, brilliant and skilled Pakistanis. However, a significant increase in migration could pose a significant challenge for Pakistan as we risk losing talent and skills that are vital to the economy and progress of the nation.
The most unfortunate fact is that, in addition to those choosing legal migration, many Pakistanis choose irregular migration and migrate illegally. Many of them lose their lives in the process. Just recently, a boat carrying 200 people, including 20 Pakistanis, capsized near the southern Italian coast, killing 63 people, including two Pakistanis. One of the victims was Shahida Raza, a former national hockey player who undertook this risky voyage in order to improve the chances for her disabled son. A lot of Pakistanis pay millions of dollars to people smugglers each year to embark on a risky voyage over land and water to reach Europe in search of better lives.
We are experiencing the worst political crisis in history, which is regrettably due to political parties’ focus on assigning blame. Political parties must develop and design their manifestos with the dilemma of this forthcoming crisis in mind. They must offer solutions, what they may do to not only retain the young talent but also to strengthen and entrust them. As 127,400 Pakistanis have already left as of February 2023, it is predicted that the number of migrants leaving the country will surpass the previous year’s number.
The author is a communications specialist and a freelance writer. He is based in Rawalpindi and can be reached at: qureshiwaqasgmail.com. He tweets qureshiwaqasA