More than 11 million Pakistanis have left Pakistan since 1971 to pursue employment opportunities elsewhere, according to emigration statistics released by the Bureau of Emigration & Overseas Employment.
The report reveals that 11,052,663 workers registered for overseas employment with the bureau between 1971 and November 2019.
Of the 11m that left Pakistan, 4.2m were labourers, the report said. The category dominates figures for 2019 as well, with 217,499 labourers leaving the country till November.
Behind labourers is the category of ‘drivers’, which accounts for 1.3m leaving the country since 1971, while the 2019 figure alone stands at 161,226
The profession of photographers saw the least amount of brain drain, with only 1,949 leaving for greener pastures over the last five decades.
Of the 11m manpower exports, 4.7m has been categorised as ‘skilled’ and 4.6m as ‘unskilled’. Around 220,000 fall in the category of the ‘highly qualified’.
According to a graph of the statistics, emigration of Pakistani workers had been on a steady rise since 1971. Between 2015 and 2018, however, it saw three consecutive years of decline — an unprecedented trend — before picking up again.
The ratio of manpower exports has once again risen sharply over the past year, with 563,018 Pakistanis leaving Pakistan in that period, according to the statistics.
Saudi Arabia has been the most popular destination among Pakistani workers seeking employment opportunities. The report says 5.4m Pakistanis registered as employees in the kingdom since 1971. Saudi Arabia also took in the most number of Pakistanis in 2019, with the figure standing at 294,156.
United Arab Emirates is second on the list, having given employment opportunities to 3.8m Pakistanis, while Oman (793,454) is third.
Punjab has seen the largest outflow of workers, with more than 5.3m leaving the province for foreign opportunities since 1971. Following the largest province is Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, whose manpower exports have been recorded at 2.65m, followed by Sindh (1m) and Azad Kashmir (679,763).
Pakistan’s sizeable workforce abroad repatriated $9.3m during the financial year ending November 2019.
Pakistanis based in Saudi Arabia sent remittances to the tune of $2.1m, followed by UAE ($1.9m) and USA ($1.5m).
However, the percentage of remittances sent by USA and UK-based Pakistanis has been on the rise in the last few years, while monetary repatriation by Middle East-based Pakistanis is declining.
During the year ending November 2019, Pakistanis in USA remitted 5.25 per cent more money than in the previous fiscal year. Similarly, the Pakistanis working in the UK sent 3.58 per cent more cash than the preceding year.
During the same period the remittances sent by Pakistanis based in Saudi Arabia and the UAE shrank by 0.36 and 3.77 per cent respectively.