Young, opportunistic, smart and in need for money. Does this sound familiar? This may be the description of the person you used to be or even the person you are now: trying to leave your mother country in search for a better life, whether that be Great Britain, The United States, Australia, or Canada. But one thing is certain; it is the reason why 2.7 million Pakistanis have emigrated from Pakistan in the last 5 years. This huge loss of intelligent and educated people in the workforce is what has been coined “the brain drain.”

Take Momina Khawar for example: a 21-year-old college educated woman looking at the economic future of her Pakistan , wondering if there is a place for her to fulfill any of her three dreams as a magazine editor. Would you blame her for wanting to leave her native soil?

The frustration experienced by Momina and thousands of other educated people are echoed on a daily basis. She is not alone when it comes to believing that Pakistan lacks the work environment necessary to propel the careers of these bright minded students. Even if they wanted to remain in Pakistan, “the country simply does not have the capability to absorb thousands of engineers, doctors, pharmacists that enter the job market every year,” according to Abdul Hameed.

Textile workers with great degrees and skill are forced to work in factories or small shops. Even doctors that are more than qualified find themselves searching for civil service jobs because it offers a better chance of job. Artisans quit their passions to partake in more “proper and beneficial” sectors.

“Of all the graduates of King Edward Medical College interviewed, only 18 percent said that they would return to Pakistan after completing their studies,” says Farooq Iftikhar. This is a very small number and is not nearly sufficient to be easily replaced.  

Policy makers, innovators, and entrepreneurs hope that they can bring back these people through a process known as “re-emigration” by providing them with incentives to come back home. While many of the emigrant  already have family ties, financial and prestigious circumstances may urge them to return.

The problem isn’t that people are leaving Pakistan; the problem lies within the fact there is no incentive for them to stay.