BRAIN DRAIN: A PAIN OR GAIN
July 26 - Aug 1, 2010
Lengthy sermons are delivered at meeting and seminars on the subject of brain drain, but hardly any steps are taken to contain flight of this most precious asset of the country. Pakistan is facing huge brain drain as experts in their respective fields are migrating from Pakistan to secure their future. The outflow of human capital spells gloom for the long-term growth of the country in near future. However, no effort is being made to contain this or neither government asks Pakistani students to return after completing education and serve their country or offers appropriate jobs according to their qualifications.
According to certain surveys more than two-thirds of Pakistan's adult population wants to go abroad. This is a brain drain with pain. There is another brain drain with sham where the brains leaving the country do not want to go abroad but are forced to leave on the pretext of belonging to a specific cast and create or having affiliation with certain linguistic and religious factions.
But, the great minds who impose exile upon themselves for protection of their families against the excesses of Pakistani regime is a shame for all of us and that amounts to real brain drain. They don't leave the country in search of better prospects or to avoid paying taxes. They leave the country because the society cannot absorb the deep truths, so powerfully spoken by some these individuals.
Some analysts said hardly any country has suffered more from the brain drain than Pakistan has. Around 5,000 graduates from professional colleges go abroad every year. Those who consider flight of highly skilled human resource of the country as source of remittance fail to realise that absence of highly qualified doctors, engineers and scientists is playing havoc with the long-term economic growth of the country. High skilled workforce also badly needed in Pakistan is going abroad in search for jobs as they see no future in their homeland but in other countries. They also say that this number is indicative of only a small proportion of actual migration, since the majority of emigrants do not register.
Though the threat of brain drain known to all nothing could be done and reason is there are not enough job opportunities in the country for highly skilled professionals. Unemployment of is high and remuneration hardly commensurate with the skills. It is said that salary levels for skilled workers are often kept forcibly low by governments to maintain an egalitarian income policy. Though the salaries of highly skilled workforce in developed world is 30-40 times higher than in Pakistan but money is not the only reason for many who opt to go abroad, it is the lack of respect for the professionals.
One of the reasons of brain drain is that when Pakistani students go abroad, they not only become involved in their studies but also have to work hard to earn for the fees. It becomes more or less impossible for them to keep in touch with their parents, relatives, and friends. Development of technology has made the contact easier. The money which Pakistani students earn by taking part-time jobs in foreign countries to pay their tuition fee, accommodation charges and other living expenses do not permit them to meet the expense of normal return airfare, whenever these students get a chance to visit Pakistan during the holidays. With the passage of time, they become more accustomed to the traditions, customs, and culture of the countries they live in. These students who go to foreign countries to acquire education, knowledge, skills and undertake research based work but ultimately become so engrossed that they finally chose not to return to homeland.
A large number of Pakistani students securing top positions from foreign universities are serving in European companies while many of them have settled there permanently after getting immigration nationality or citizenship of these countries. Some four million Pakistani are settled in Europe, USA and Canada and not sending money back to the country.
With the growing brain drain, two policy options are being actively considered 1) imposing no restriction of Pakistani professionals seeking job abroad and 2) putting a ban on leaving Pakistan on certain professionals. Propagators of the first policy say here is no shortage of talent and mind in Pakistan because of non-availability of good options and any attempt to restrict their departure will not only disappoint the youth but also lend the country in serious problems. The other group believes there is need to retain the professionals in the country by controlling migration of technical experts, doctors, engineers, economist and others in order to maintain the growth.
The growing consensus is that either the government guarantee jobs for all or also minimum salary for each type of professionals or let them go abroad to earn for themselves and for the country. Unemployment creates frustration among the youth and can turn them rebellion. Therefore, allow them to go abroad but ensure that they remain in contact with their siblings and come to their hometown more frequently; going abroad is not a problem but getting detached with the family makes all sad.
It is also imperative for the Pakistan's foreign missions to remain in touch with these Pakistanis. Arranging celebrations on Independence Day and Pakistan Day is good, but under the prevailing circumstances, keeping in touch with all is more important to save them from untoward incident.