Pakistan News Service

Tuesday Jan 22, 2019, Jumada-al-awwal 15, 1440 Hijri

Brain Drain from Pakistan

23 February, 2006

By Syed A. Mateen

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Our leaders often deliver lengthy speeches in number of seminars, that are held from time to time in various parts of the country on the subject of brain drain, but no positive steps have been taken as yet by the government of Pakistan to stop the brain drain, or even our government have not asked Pakistani students to return back and serve their country by offering proper jobs according to their qualifications.

One of the reasons of brain drain is that when Pakistani students go abroad for under-graduate or post-graduate studies, they become so much involved in their studies, that it becomes more or less practically impossible for them to keep in touch with their parents, relatives and friends, except in rare cases, when they have an access to the internet and read some online national newspapers.

Our diplomatic missions abroad also have no knowledge about the exact number of students who are studying abroad. Moreover, our diplomatic mission does not take any pain to register these students in their official records.

Pakistan`s diplomatic missions are unaware of the fact that how many students are studying in which foreign country? In case of any emergency, our diplomatic missions will not be able to extend any help to these students.

Pakistan embassies and consulates should have full knowledge about these students and should update their records from time to time. They are supposed to send newsletters to these students studying in various foreign countries. Most of our students are presently unaware about the positive developments that are taking place in Pakistan in their absence.

I would like to emphasize on the point that while our diplomatic missions celebrate "Independence Day" abroad, they should make it a point that in addition to other guests, Pakistani students should also receive proper invitation card, so that they should remain in contact with our diplomatic missions abroad, and at the same time these students should also get the opportunity to meet with foreign dignitaries.

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, our students become more accustom to the traditions, customs and culture of the foreign countries, and at the end of the day, these students who go to foreign countries, in order to acquire better knowledge, skills and research based work, finally do not return back to Pakistan.

Pakistan International Airline (PIA) also do not offer travel concession on international routes to Pakistani students studying abroad and charge full fare to these students, whereas, our national carrier offer discount to such students who travel on domestic routes.

I would request the Chairman of PIA Mr.Tariq Kirmani, who has recently taken several dynamic steps by revising PIA`s tariff, to help out Pakistani students who are presently studying abroad in under-graduate and post-graduate programmes, by amending PIA`s existing policy on students airfare.

PIA should devise a "student`s friendly policy" and should allow a 50% discount for all students of Pakistani origin on international routes on the normal airfare, so that overseas Pakistani students should get an opportunity to regularly visit Pakistan during the holidays. This will enable the Pakistani students to meet with their parents, relative and friends and at the same time they will also be able to maintain close ties with their country of origin.


Reader Comments:

Further suggestions.

I fully agree with Mr. Mateen. Both the domestic and multinational organizations in Pakistan should launch skill relevant programmes, specifically designed to recruit and train foreign pakistani students. This will not only help the new generation to bring home fresh ideas and apply them into practical skills, but will also provide them with a platform to learn more about Pakistan's economy and functioning of different industries.

Kind Regards.

Ahmed Aziz, United Arab Emirates - 23 February, 2006

Practical Thinking

The article has not properly addressed the issue of brain drain.The author has addressed the issue of discounts on flights,Invitation Cards on celebrations so that the students studying abroad can keep in touch with their relatives in Pakistan as well as cutom n culture of their country.I feel that when a person goes abroad to study/work n doesnt return has more to do with money,growth oppurtunities,facilities available in everyday life and security.Unfortunately these elements r absent in pak as well in India.Lack of Infrastructure,Red tapiesm in research activities,preferential treatment in promotions,less renumeration make students to take up jobs in developed countries.Once they settle they do fantasize about returning to their homeland but practicality takes over their thinking.Returning to own contry r not taken emotionally.

Abhishek, Hungary - 24 February, 2006

confused article?

There is no doubt that the author of the article has not done a good job in addressing the real issues surrounding the brain drain out of Pakistan. The issue has been discussed in the context of trained workforce migrting to Canada and other countries on this forum that the author and others an benefit.

Talking of PIA, One must congratulate PIA for converting special check-in counters reserved for 'handicapped' at Karachi and Lahore Airports to the exclusive use of "PARLIAMENTAIANS". This is a Government's airline serving the government not the passengrs.

Sunny, Pakistan - 24 February, 2006

Despite of All

The author has done a perfect job in addressing the concerns of Pakistani Students studying abroad who need to be taken care of. This is the time when you make or break the love for your land. If our people forget us, we'll forget them and never go back. Good Job sir.

Umair, Pakistan - 24 February, 2006

false hopes

Comment by Abhishek, India is correct, writer is not. I have spoke to many students, parents, and other elders. Their words ring loud in my ears, "there is no-one going out of country that returns" Why? because of lack of facilities, opportunity, and due to the disqust with the bribe, fraud that one must become involved within just to accomplish anything in Pakistan. It is unfortunate, but true...lowering airfares is a great way to help out the students, but I don't think this will keep them "home". Things must change a thousand times over for the want to return home to digest in these students that the drain quits recurring.

Victoria Ann Khan, Pakistan - 25 February, 2006

Discounted Brain Drain

The article talks about one of the major issues the developing world is facing. However, the solution he has given for discounted air fares, would only facilitate Brain Drain at a cost effective rate.

I studied for four years in USA, worked for two years and then came back and MashaAllah doing well. The reason I came back was because of my "sense of belonging" never allowed me to associate myself with Americans and I always considered myself to be an alien in the foreign land.

Most of the Pakistanis (expats) I interacted with in America, who have had been living there for decades had a same feeling, but they were not strong enough to take bold decisions to come back.

So I think if someone is not bold enough to take decisions, we don't need them back in this country, let them stay there as Confused Daisees third rated citizens in America, Britain and else where.

In Pakistan we need Leaders to come back, and Leaders are borned leaders, we just don't want people to come back and keep on complaining about everything they saw in this motherland. If they can't contribute, let them help other countries we are not dependent on them. I think the strategy should be to construct better education system in Pakistan and groom the borned leaders to play active role in building the economy.

Agha, Pakistan - 25 February, 2006

I somehow don't agree with the author with this concept of Brain-drain. Pakistan at this moment does not have universities which can be named along with Stanford and MIT, forget about matching them. The focus should be then instead on allowing more people to explore new worlds and improving opportunities in Pakistan itself so that when these people return they can replicate their successess in Pakistan, something that India has been to some extent able to achieve in IT field. The need of the hour is not cribbing about brain drain but initiating competencies, and starting up good technical and business institutes. As such Brain in drain is far worse than brain-drain. And about extending the lollipops like invitation cards and lower return fares :-) , foof !! I can't stop laughing at the impraticality of the idea where instead of adressing the root cause, we try for polishing the surface of the problem.

, Hungary - 25 February, 2006

U got to be joking

A pakistani expat earns so much more in the west then he or she would in Pak so why do they wnat to come back

PIA offering discounted fares fat chance them Idiots at pia coul not organise a P*** up in a brewery.

Umar, United Arab Emirates - 26 February, 2006

Brain Drain from Pakistan

There is always a difference of opinion on any issue discussed but this very topic of brain drain got so many things attached to it. Those who don't come back to Pakistan think they will not get a job there but they could be wrong. Surely its a sense of belonging and love with Pakistan who come back and serve Pakistan in their special fields. One thing I must say Pakistanis remain Pakistanis no matter where they live out of Pakistan and always attached and do temendous love with homeland. Being away are contributing towards the development of Pakistan and their share in the economy is around one third which is a lot. They are ambassadors of Pakistan living abroad no doubt there are problems they got to face as well but they are courageous enough to cope with them. With the development of mega projects and all sectors given right progress lot of living aborad will make their way back home. After say 10 years there will be lot of jobs and country turning into a developed like others. The growth rate is one of the highest in Asia and policies are working originated by the PM and Gen. Musharaf thus showing results which are favourable. Wait and see things are improving with a good speed.

Mohammad, United Arab Emirates - 26 February, 2006


Life is strange.

Interesting to read Agha's comments about coming back to Pakistan because of a "sense of belonging" never allowed me to associate myself with Americans and I always consider myself to be the alien in the foreign land.

This attitude is so puzzling to some of us here in America. Many, not all, Muslims live in Muslim communties, keep to themselves within that community, and really are reluctant to associate themselves with us as Agha indicated.

This leaves many Americans to wonder. Is the seperatness on the part of some of our Muslim citizens because we are rude, impolite and just plain unfriendly?

Whatever the problem is, I think it would do us all good to remember that no one is any better than anyone else and, Americans, living in a nation of immigrants, should not forget that the outstretched torch on our Statue of Liberty means all are welcome.

In the age of terrorism, I have to amend that. If you can prove you mean us no harm, you are welcome.

Isadora, United Kingdom - 26 February, 2006


The comments are ignoring more serious problems. I am a child of an ex-pat. I am not third class, nor confused. I simply refuse to ignore the nearly impossible struggle to live and improve our lives without bribes, filth, and low moral standards in Pakistan. Religious and political leadership, and too many people, accept corruption, low standard of living for masses, and nepotism as part of Pakistan. We all must stop judging others and start living as better Pakistanis, or Pak-_____s. The country is a mess and we all have only ourselves to blame. That's why people leave. Leaving or staying, if we work together we can make it better, but not while the embittered want to blame others. Ex-pats can provide aid, ideas, and many skills, structure, and education, but everyone must work as a team without recriminations.

SAH, United Kingdom - 26 February, 2006

Why is there Brain Drain.....

The author points out something interesting. The thoughts are very commendable.
We need to look at why the people are not comming back, as correctly pointed out by many people. Pakistanis are just as human as anyone else, so in human nature, you are naturally attracted to place where you can make most out of yourself, hence the prime reason why those students, with goals to make something of themselves, are leaving Pakistan. They see themselves as going nowhere, in the current situation, i.e. corrupt institutions, law problems, rising cost of living, etc.

Rather than government of Pakistan worrying about Brain Drain so much, it would be better thing for them to focus on improving the basic regulatory methods, i.e. introduce toughter laws against corruption, nepotism(hiring your own relatives for jobs, without any merrits), starting from their own governmental organizations, then empowering the police to enfore the laws of the land, which do exist but are seldom enforced.

So, when the people of Paksitani origin, however highly qualified, start to notice some 'Ray of Hope', they will give some serious thoughts about returning home.

But first, the government, the institutions, the public at large, has to initiate the change within Pakistan itself.

There is however, some hope now, as the nation is starting to make some progress. This trend must continue.

Zain Abidin, United Kingdom - 28 February, 2006


Nice article, I have done my Undergrad from US in Economics and after two years to experience in financial field returning back this summer to Pakistan for good. On personal note, if there is anyone with some good suggestions regarding my case plz email me at thanks.

Faisal Malik, Pakistan - 28 February, 2006

What is ...?

What is "borned leader"?

Sparky, Pakistan - 01 March, 2006

gud article

just wanted to say that PIA definitely should offer discounts on travelling to there anyway we could get this message across to the higher authourities of PIA?

Rabia Aftab, United Arab Emirates - 01 March, 2006


I try to read articles of Mr. Syed A. Mateen that are published in Daily Dawn, The News International, Daily Times, Business Recorder and more on different internet websites including BBC World (Have Your Say).

What I have found exceptional in Mr. Mateen's write-ups that he seems to be a moving force behind in suggesting how to solve problems that are faced by the Pakistanis in and outside the country. His vision is superb and accurate.

I wish Pakistan should have more people like Mr. Mateen, who seems to be totally dedicated in looking after and defending the interest of his country, as through his write-ups one can easily make up that he wants to see Pakistan moving ahead from its present scenario.

His article posted on your website “Brain Drain from Pakistan” is a master-piece article ever I have gone through on a similar subject. He has given vision to Pakistan's diplomatic missions working abroad. At the same time he has also requested the national carrier PIA to provide concession to Pakistani students who are studying abroad.

Though most of the write-ups of Mr. Mateen are critical, but behind the criticism he always has logic, which in case is noted down by the Government of Pakistan, many problems concerning the general public and the country can be solved.

It is really unfortunate that our government does not recognize the services of honest and dedicated people like Mr. Syed A. Mateen, who seems to be working for Pakistan without any self interest.

I wish Mr. Mateen all the best in his future endeavors and hope that one day Government of Pakistan will recognize his services which he is rendering for the country and will give him the Presidential award “Tamgha-e-Khidmat” during his life.

Thank you very much Mr. Mateen for having all the pain for the poor people of Pakistan. I salute to your dedication. Keep it up. May God Bless You. Ameen.

Mohammad Ali Siddiqui, Pakistan - 01 March, 2006

problem solving

Well i agree with one reader who's already expressed his views about this article , but one thing iwould like to add to this that mr. mateen seems to b too sweet towards abroad pakistani missions. have u seen those ppl in abroad related to pakistani embassies they try their best to b as corrupt and ignorant as the ppl are in pakistani government departments, as incompitent as any govt officer (talking about majority of public service sector). Nevertheless his suggestions are worth putting up in front of higher authorities i mean foriegn secretories and minister not to react upon these suggestions but to start thinking on the right lines. Praying for the better future for both pakistan and those pakistani frustrated, qualified and skilled students as well as professional who have chosen to study and live abroad.

Adil Umer, United Arab Emirates - 18 August, 2007

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