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Migration-A Hunt for Better Life

Pakistanis and South Asians are desperate to get out of their home country.

Migration

 

“Thank You PIA”, a note read inside the Pakistani cabin crew’s hung uniform in a Toronto Hotel room. The note was written by a Pakistani Flight attendant, Maryam Raza, to express her gratitude towards Pakistan International Airlines. After leaving the note behind, Maryam disappeared in the bustling city of Toronto.

Maryam Raza entered Canada on 26th February on a flight from Islamabad. However, she did not board the return flight the following day. After inspection at the hotel premises, her uniform hung with Thank you Note inside the pocket was found.

Reports claim that the woman has deliberately run away and used Pakistani International Airlines, PIA, as a free gateway to enter Canada.

This is the second case of disappearance of Pakistani flight crew in 2024.

In January, Faiza Mukhtar, also a Pakistani air hostess, disappeared in Canada. Past year, as many as seven such cases of cabin crew seeking asylum in Canada were registered.

PIA spokesperson blames it on the ‘liberal’ asylum regulations of Canada, but this highlights a deeper and darker trend grapping an increasing population in Pakistan and its neighboring nations- Migration in the search of better life.

Pakistan is in Peril:

Pakistan is facing extreme inflation, extremism, political instability and hefty international debts.

It faces a severe economic downturn characterized by skyrocketing inflation at 20%, dwindling foreign reserves, and a weakening currency. This has led to a significant decline in purchasing power, making essential goods and services unaffordable for many.

Deep political polarization and instability are also exacerbating Pakistan's challenges. The ouster of former Prime Minister Imran Khan and ongoing tensions between the current government and opposition parties has created an environment of uncertainty for the common people.

On top of this, a resurgence of terrorist activity, particularly from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, poses a significant security threat. In the first half of 2023, as many as 271 militant attacks took place in Pakistan. The situation along the borders of India and Afghanistan also remains tense.

As a result of this, Pakistan faces severe socioeconomic challenges, including high poverty rates and nationwide cost of living crises. This has also limited the access to quality education and healthcare for common people.

Amid such situation, people run to seek shelter and better lifestyle on foreign lands.

Increasing Number of People are Fleeting Pakistan:

The research by The UN Migration Agency, International Organisation for Migration, identifies Pakistan as the top ten emigrating nations in the world (Refer image). Approximately 9 million Pakistani populations has migrated for diverse reasons, including pursuing higher education at esteemed foreign universities, reuniting with loved ones, exploring new job opportunities, and seeking a better quality of life.

 

Similar Trend Looms in Pakistan’s Neighborhood:

The same is the case in its neighboring nations such as India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.  People from these Asian nations are fleeting at the highest rates to developed nations in the west.

India boasts a massive diaspora of over 17 million people and contributes significantly to skilled migration, with over 6.5 million Indian professionals working in developed countries on temporary visas. As a result of this migration, Indian economy received more than $89 Billion in remittance from overseas workers.

Similarly, Nepal witnesses a significant number of its citizens working abroad, with estimates exceeding 2 million, primarily in the Gulf and Malaysia. The similar trend is noticed in Bangladesh, which has also experienced substantial labor migration in the recent years. More than 10 million Bangladeshi workers are employed overseas, mainly in Middle East and Southeast Asia.

Social Media Contributes to the Trend:

In the recent years, social media has reached every nook and corner of the world. From remote areas in Bahamas to snow-covered chilly mountains, mobile phone and social media connectivity is omnipresent. More than 5.09 Billion people are already glued to social media globally.

Amidst such diverse presence, it is almost impossible to deny its presence and restrict its negative consequences. Besides connecting with friends and family, 38.5% people reported filling spare time to be the top most reason to use social media, the report by ‘Oberlo’, facilitated by ‘DataReportal’ identified. This was closely followed by reading news and staying informed about the latest trends on social media

The same report also identifies that an average user spends 2.5 hours daily on social media. With such spare time on hand and leveraging social media as the sole portal for accessing news, social media holds significant power to indirectly influence people’s perception and contribute the desire to migrate, especially among younger generations.

Often times, social media feeds are filled with posts showcasing affluent lifestyles, luxury goods, and higher quality of life in developed nations. Constant exposure to seemingly perfect lives abroad creates aspiration and discontent with one's own situation. This also creates an idolized version of the reality, which leads to false perception among youth that migrating to developed nation is the key to better lifestyle.

However, these young minds fail to understand that these platforms rarely show the flaws, challenges, and difficulties faced by migrants. This creates a limited view and underestimates the challenges involved in migration. Hence, out of desperation, young people are increasingly migrating to these developed avenues. But not all of these can opt and afford legal migration, and hence risk their lives by adopting illegal migration routes. While a very few of them succeed, most of them are either caught and deported or even worse killed and robbed, some even die due to harsh conditions along the route as was witnessed last year when 300 migrants drowned from an overcrowded Libyan boat sank near Greece (image).

Conclusion:

A significant size of population is migrating out of Southern Asia to Europe and middle-east in the search of better lives. While these nations might offer better opportunities of growth and lifestyle improvement, Opting illegal way to enter a country is never the solution. Also, comparing lives on social media is not the right approach. One should rather conduct their own research, evaluate their options of migration and then migrate. The reason for migration should not thoroughly base on social media and news article; one should conduct their own research.

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