No place like home
It may seem counterintuitive given our experience, but no one really wants to leave their home. Although most Pakistanis will confess to a preference for moving abroad, it is important to realise that this desire is borne less out of what other countries offer and rests more on what ours does not provide.
According to the Bureau of Emigration, more than 10 million Pakistanis have left the country for greener pastures. Many of them are highly skilled and work in fields like engineering and medicine which Pakistan sorely needs.
For those of us who still live here, it is easy to look upon those who leave with envy, even derision. The grass, after all, is always greener on the other side. As we deal with the challenges Pakistan throws our way, we may believe that those that flew away have nothing but blue skies ahead.
But that is seldom the case. In reality, it is a very difficult step to shift cities, much less nations. While other countries, particularly the developed ones, offer many amenities that Pakistan is not even close to providing, those that move will usually find themselves in a place without a support networks and several language and cultural barriers that make life not as easy as one would think.
So what is it then that drives this perpetual talent leak? The lack of career prospects, for one. As the
head of the Pakistan Engineering Council put it,
there are almost no jobs due to lack of development
in the country. A similar malaise afflicts several
But we can’t boil it down to just economics. There are other far more insidious things driving this exodus, such as corruption and extremism. Why live in a place where you are paranoid all the time. As the government repeats its promises of a brave new order, it should start looking at how it can turn the country into a home no one wants to leave.
Fissure in the making
The fissures in the Muslim world came to the forefront this month at the summit in Kuala Lumpur. The outspoken Malaysian Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad, summoned leaders from the world’s most populous Muslim-majority countries to discuss the general decline of the Muslim civilization, Islamophobia, and poverty.
The Malaysian government invited the heads of state from 57 members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, but only about 20 countries sent leaders or delegations to the summit. In Riyadh, the move was seen as an attempt to rival the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) because the kingdom often appears to behave as if it exclusively holds the trademark rights to the Muslim leadership. If that was not enough, the appearance of Saudi Arabia’s regional rivals Iran, Qatar, and Turkey, all of whom attended the summit in Kuala Lumpur, irked the kingdom further. During the summit, the OIC, which has for decades acted as the collective Islamic voice, received veiled criticism for its failure to take firm action in support of Muslim causes all over the world. Perhaps, Middle east rivalries emerged stronger than the Muslim causes during the upstart summit. And they were bound to plague the fledgling summit. Many nations, including Indonesia, only sent a delegation of ministers to attend the event, and their leaders decided to stay away. After all, it is not easy to offend the world’s leading oil producer and the figurehead of the Muslim world. While such events highlight the greater internal divisions, they also suggest that Saudi Arabia still commands the Muslim world. Many countries that decided to stay away from the divisive summit are either waiting or have already received a financial bailout from Riyadh. But while the summit may not have achieved its ultimate purpose of uniting leaders of a certain type to counter Riyadh’s authority, it surely has exposed how divided the Muslim world is.
Threat to food basket