Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Situation of Migration and Potential Available to Reverse the Brain Drain-Case from Pakistan

Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Situation of Migration and Potential Available to Reverse the Brain Drain-Case from Pakistan

Article excerpt

This paper focuses on the phenomenon of migration of highly qualified professionals with a reference to the above-mentioned parameters. It also discusses the possible approaches that can help retain the human resources in their home country through a set of counterincentives offered by the society. Findings used in this paper are based on the relevant literature review, interviews with concerned individuals and institutions as well as author's own experiences in this field of work. The paper draws cases from Pakistan to illustrate the arguments.


One of the earliest examples of brain drain was experienced by Europe towards the final stages of Second World War. Fearing persecution, many scientists, intellectuals, engineers, doctors and other highly qualified professionals left their countries of origin and moved to the United States. This wave of brain drain had a strong political reason behind it. In comparative terms, the United States appeared a liberal, prosperous and forward moving context in comparison to countries under the Nazi regime. Thereafter, migrations of different scope and magnitude continued towards many economically and socially attractive locations. Very soon after gaining independence from colonial rule, these countries became avid providers of very skilled workforces towards the Middle East, Europe, North America and other countries.

The developing countries soon started experiencing the brain drain syndrome amid a situation of shortage of manpower in the West that developed due to the aftermath of war. Scale and statistical details are difficult to be found, as most countries did not keep accurate records of emigrating populations. Besides the definitions and approaches of analysis in this case varied greatly (i) However, the general trends in this direction became fairly visible in a short period of time.

The migration of highly qualified professionals from the developing countries is an extremely complex problem that presents the international community with a major dilemma. First of all, the 'brain drain' cannot be stopped by force nor can it be legislated against. It is linked to fundamental human rights--the right of individuals to move from one country to another, although the exercise of that right is governed by the immigration policies of individual countries. Second, it is fundamentally a national problem that can only be resolved at the national level by providing enough incentives for qualified nationals to remain at home. Third, some industrialized countries--such as the United States and Canada--have historically had liberal immigration policies. Even European states, whose immigration policies tend to be more restrictive, have a good number of Third World professionals. It is arguable whether, under the circumstances, the liberalization of the international labor market under the World Trade Organization, as is being suggested (even by some developing countries), will actually be in interest of developing countries.

The case of Pakistan is no different. A sizable number of highly qualified professionals have been leaving the country ever since it came into existence. For instance, as early as the 1960s, Pakistan lost more than 4,000 medical doctors, most of who emigrated to the United Kingdom for better prospects. (ii) Similar situations also existed in other professions, such as engineering, accounting, nursing, business management and even teaching. However, exact quantification of numbers always remained an impossible task due to several reasons: Absence of data on overseas Pakistanis with respect to their educational background and work; change in status of visas at the time of leaving the country and afterwards; acquisition of dual nationalities after the stipulated time period; and difficulty in distinguishing between the skilled and unskilled laborers were a few reasons that caused difficulty in focused analysis. Nevertheless, the review of the trends and issues pertinent to this phenomenon shall be useful to comprehend the situation. …

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