Can Pakistani Diaspora Help in Pakistan's Development?

Nearly 5 million Pakistani emigrants make up the world's 7th largest disapora, according to the World Bank Factbook 2011. Adding the foreign-born children of these Pakistani emigres to the tally pushes the total figure up to about 7 million. The top five nations that the Pakistani diaspora calls home include the United Kingdom (1.2 million), The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (1.2 million), the United Arab Emirates (1.1 million), the United States (700,000) and Canada (300,000), according to Pakistan's Dawn newspaper.

The nations ranking ahead of Pakistan are Mexico at #1, India at #2, Russia at #3, China at #4, Ukraine at #5 and Bangladesh at #6. Both the UK and Pakistan are tied at #7 with 4.7 million emigres, according to the World Bank.

World's Top 10 Diasporas:

Here are the top 10 national diasporas:

1. Mexico 11.9 million

2. India 11.4 million

3. Russia 11.1 million

4. China 8.3 million

5. Ukraine 6.6 million

6. Bangladesh 5.4 million

7. Pakistan 4.7 million

7. United Kingdom 4.7 million

8. Philippines 4.3 million

8. Turkey 4.3 million

9. Egypt 3.7 million

9. Kazakhstan 3.7 million

10. Germany 3.5 million

10. Italy 3.5 million

Diaspora Remittances:

The World Bank's Migration and Remittances Factbook 2011 ranks Pakistan at #11 in 2010 for remittances of $9.4 billion sent home by its diaspora. The State Bank of Pakistan reported that overseas Pakistanis sent home $5.291 billion during six months from July to Dec, 2010, an increase of $761 million or 17 per cent year over year, according to Pakistan's Dawn newspaper.

India tops this list with remittances of $55 billion sent home in 2010, followed by China ($51 billion), Mexico ($22.6 billion), Philippines ($21.3 billion), France ($15.9 billion), Germany ($11.6 billion), Bangladesh ($11.1 billion), Belgium ($10.4 billion), Spain ($10.2 billion), Nigeria ($10 billion) and Pakistan ($9.4 billion).

Per Capita Remittances:

In terms of per capita remittances based the World Bank data, China leads the world with an average of $6,100 sent home by each member of the Chinese diaspora, followed by the Philippines ($4,953), India ($4,824), Bangladesh ($2055), Pakistan ($2000), Mexico ($1904), UK ($1,574), Ukraine ($803) and Russia ($504). These per capita figures are an indication of the wealth of each diaspora and the extent of the brain drain experienced by these nations.

Top Immigration Countries:

With 42.8 million immigrants, the United States is home to the world's largest immigrant population. India and Pakistan also have the distinction of being on the list with 5.4 million immigrants in India at #10 and Pakistan with 4.2 million immigrants at #13. Other nations on this list include Russia at #2 (12.3 million immigrants), Germany at #3 (10.8 million), Saudi Arabia at #4 (7.3 million), Canada at #5 (7.2 million), the UK at #6 (7 million), Spain at #7 (6.9 million), France at #8 (6.7 million) and Australia at #9 (5.5 million).

Examples of Diaspora's Role:

Diasporas of various nations are mutually beneficial to both the sending and the receiving countries. They send home the money to help their families and friends financially. And they often acquire advanced education and technical, professional and managerial skills and contribute to solving problems in their host nations in the West. And given the right political and policy context, the members of the diaspora can also help their countries of origin by using their deep knowledge of their home countries and by offering advanced skills, experience and knowledge acquired in more developed nations.

In terms of development help with the skills and capital of the diaspora for their home nations, there are three examples of fairly old and mature diasporas: China, India and Armenia. While China and India have benefited greatly from their diasporas, Armenia has lagged badly, according to a World Bank report titled "Work Globally, Develop Locally: Diaspora Networks as Springboards ....

Pakistani Diaspora's Role:

In Pakistan's case, growing remittances amounting to 5% of its gdp in 2010 from the nation's diaspora provided an important lifeline for the state of Pakistan in funding its large current account deficit and in helping the individuals and families receiving the funds to supplement their incomes.

Remittances are a source of income for households in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and other provinces in Pakistan, according to a 2010 World Bank report titled "Poverty fell in Pakistan in 2001-08 partly because of remittances". A recent Asian Development Bank study found that foreign remittances constituted 9.4 percent of household income in KP, compared to 5.1% for Punjab, 1.5% for Baluchistan, and 0.7% for Sindh.

Beyond the remittances, can Pakistan also benefit from its growing diaspora like India and China have from theirs? With millions of Pakistanis in Europe and America, many of them highly skilled entrepreneurs and business and technology professionals, Pakistani diaspora can be very helpful to their home country in its business, economic, social, political, educational and technological development. The realization of such great potential will only be possible if Pakistani government's public policy, public-private partnerships and state-to-state relations with the West create the necessary conditions for it to happen. Existing organizations of Pakistanis, such as OPEN Silicon Valley, APPNA, and PakAlumni Worldwide, can be helpful in such an endeavor.

Among the emerging diaspora networks, the effort of South African Network of Skills Abroad (SANSA), established by the University of Cape Town’s Science and Technology Policy Research Center, is worth watching. SANSA aims to promote collaboration between highly skilled expatriate scientists and technologists and their counterparts in South Africa. The target group is alumni of all major South African universities working in the West.

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Comment by Riaz Haq on August 5, 2016 at 9:24pm

As 7th largest immigrant population, #Pakistanis not eligible for US diversity visa. #Pakistan #America #Immigration

According to the US law, diversity laws are only allowed to counties that have low rates of immigrants, said US consulate in Karachi’s spokesperson Brian Asmus, during a media tour of the Karachi consulate’s visa section on Friday. Pakistan had 104,000 immigrants in the 10 years between 2005 and 2014, he said, explaining why Pakistanis are no longer eligible.

The state department has only stopped diversity visas and there are a lot of other options, such as petitions, student, visit and exchange programme visas, which come under the non-immigrant category. “One can always apply for immigrant visa if they have immediate family in the US,” explained US consulate’s Non-Immigrant Visa chief Mary Pellegrini.

She also explained that it takes around one year for spouse and children, two years for parents and, for siblings, the time can vary up to a decade.

Nevertheless, the Pakistanis who have managed to immigrate are doing pretty well. According to a recent survey, an average Pakistani in the US earns $63,000 every year while an average US citizen earns only $51,000 a year, said Asmus.

Asmus dismissed the misconception that fewer Pakistanis are able to get visa for the US. The percentage of applications is increasing every year and the number of Pakistani citizens getting visas has also increased by 20% between 2014 and 2015, and another 20% between 2015 and 2016, he said.

The US Consulate in Karachi only deals in non-immigrant visas while immigrants visas are dealt at the embassy in Islamabad. Last year, the consulate issued a total of 72,000 visas across the country. So far in 2016, the US consulate in Karachi has issued a total of 14,400 visas.

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 16, 2016 at 10:56am

Emigrants (Pew, UN)

1. India tops with 15.9 million 

2. Mexico 12.3 million

3. Russia 10.6 million

4. China 9.5 million

5. Bangladesh 7.2 million

6. Pakistan 5.9 million

7. Ukraine 5.83 million

8. Philippines 5.32 million

9. Syria 5.01 million

10. Afghanistan 4.84 million

11. United Kingdom 4.92 million

12. Poland 4.45 million

13. Kazakstan 4.08 million

14. Germany 4.0 million

15. Indonesia 3.88 million

16. Palestine 3.55 million 

17. Romania 3.41 million

18. Egypt 3.27 million

19. Turkey 3.11 million

20. United States 3.02 million

21. Italy 2.9 million

22. Burma (Myanmar) 2.88 million

23. Colombia 2.64 million 

24. Vietnam 2.56 million

25. South Korea 2.35 million

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 23, 2017 at 7:37pm

woman Hina Bhatti makes history in as City Council President

A Pakistan-origin woman has been appointed president of the municipal council of Ostend, in Belgium’s West Flanders province.

Hina Bhatti, a 34-year-old liberal politician who was born in Belgium is proud of her Pakistani roots.

“I have found it always very positive that I can combine the better aspects of two cultures. I don’t mind when people talk about my roots. I have many contacts within the different communities. We have [always] had an open house where everybody is welcome,” Bhatti said in an interview with Het Laatste Nieuws, a Dutch newspaper.

Bhatti said her parents arrived in Belgium 40 years ago from Pakistan.

“I was born and raised in Ostend and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else,” she adds.

Her family speaks both Urdu and Dutch at home and finds it very encouraging to live the best of both cultures — Pakistani and Belgian.

She studied economy-modern languages in the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe College in Antwerp, Belgium.

Later, Bhati worked for a year in the cabinet of Bart Tommelein when he was secretary of state.

With her new position, Bhatti said she aims to work for the progress of all Belgian citizens.

“I am into mainstream politics with a vision to work for all Belgians. I mobilised my support mainly among local Belgian masses and have support of all immigrants as well as the Pakistani community based in West Flanders province,” she said peaking to Pakistan’s Geo News.

Bhatti sees her new position within the council as an important symbol.

“Young people attach little importance to politics and therefore it is good that young women are offered opportunities. I want to work for all equally as President of the Council and with my work, I hope to attain a place in the council in next elections too,” shew was quoted as saying by daily Het Laatste Nieuws.

There are many important regional and national politicians in the municipal council of Ostend including John Crombez, head of the Flemish socialists, Johan Vande Lanotte, minister of state and mayor; Wouter De Vriend, important MP of the green party and Björn Anseeuw regional MP for the Flemish nationalists.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 9, 2017 at 9:17am

12 #Pakistan-origin candidates win parliament seats #UK elections. #Election2017

Twelve Pakistani-origin British candidates have been declared winner in the Britain’s general elections.

Seven Pakistan-origin British contestants belong to Labour Party and three to Conservative. Among them five are women.

Shahbana Mahmood of the labour party originally hails from Mirpur Azad Kashmir crushed all opponents in Birmingham Ladywood securing 34,166 votes (82.7% of the total vote). There was a turnout of 59 per cent which was lower than most in the region.

Dr. Roseena Allin Khan of the labour party won Tooting with 34,201 votes. Khan’s mother is from Poland and her father is originally from Pakistan.

Yasmin Qureshi originally from Gujrat has been re-elected in Bolton South East with 25,676 votes. The voter turnout in Bolton South East was 61.4%.

Naseem Naz Shah of the labour party won Bradford West with 27,444 votes which is 64.7% of the total votes. She was born in Bradford and spent some of her childhood in Pakistan where she went through a tragic youth before moving back to Britain.

Imran Hussain of the labour party won Bradford East with 29,831 votes. He is originally of Pakistani descent.

Khalid Mahmood from Mirpuri descent won Birmingham Perry Bar for the labour party with 30,109 votes.

Afzal Khan of the labour party won the constituency of Manchester Gordon and Faisal Rashid Faisal Rashid of the labour party won Warrington South.

Nusrat Munir Ul Ghani of the conservative party won 37,027 votes 61.2% of the total votes. Her parents are originally from Kashmir.

Rehman Chishti of the conservative party won Gillingham and Rainham with 27,091 votes. He was born in Muzaffarabad Azad Kashmir. His father has served as Federal Adviser on religious affairs to the Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir in Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s era.

Sajid Javed of the conservative party won Bromsgrove with 33,493 votes. He is one of the five sons of parents of Pakistani descent.

30 candidates of Pakistani origin be contested the June 8 general elections in the United Kingdom, BBC Urdu reported.

According to lists of candidates released by different political parties, the Labour Party had given more tickets to women and Pakistani-origin citizens than any other party.

Comment by Riaz Haq on November 1, 2017 at 9:40am

Pakistani community in Estonia ‘highly qualified and skilled’

The total number Pakistanis in the country is 200 people and vast majority of them are highest degree holders

Majority of the Pakistanis residing in Estonia constitute highly qualified and skilled people including engineers and software experts, said Chairman Pakistan-Estonia Association (PEA) Dr Yar Mohammad Mughal.

In a meeting with Enn Eesmaa, the first Vice-President of the Estonian Parliament at the parliament House in Tallinn, Mughal said that the total number Pakistanis in the country is 200 people and vast majority of them are highest degree holders.

30 % of the community is highly skilled engineers and software engineers who obtained jobs after completion of their education in Estonia, a country of 1.3 million in the Baltic area. 20% are either self-employed or have odd jobs. The rest are mostly students of PhD, Masters and Bachelors degree programs.

Dr Yar Mohammad also briefed the Vice President of the parliament about aims and objectives of his organisation. The PEA is a platform to strengthen relationships between both countries, to increase trade and cooperation in different sectors such as e-Governance and IT. The organisation also works to promote international mobility to exchange of faculty members, researchers and students

Dr Yar also told the leading Estonian lawmaker about the cultural activities of Pakistani community in different cities of Estonia. Steps and objectives of Pakistan Association Estonia were highly appreciated by Mr. Enn Eesmaa. He emphasized on further efforts for enhancement of ties between Pakistan and Estonia.

Dr Yar Mohammad, who is assistant professor at University of Tartu, Estonia has started his efforts for exchange of students and scholars between the two countries and so far has achieved an agreement on exchange faculty members between NUST University of Pakistan and an Estonian university. During the meeting, the two sides agreed that educational diplomacy can be used as an effective tool in Pak-EU ties, especially Pakistan’s relations with Estonia.

Higher educational institutions of both sides play a significant role to promote bilateral relations, he added. Dr Yar sad that collaborative study and research projects, joint degree, consulting contracts and others activities can be increased between Pakistani and Estonia.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 28, 2018 at 10:27pm

Tragedy at Sea 3,000 Miles Away Resonates in Pakistani Village
By MEHER AHMAD FEB. 27, 2018

Local laborers in this largely agrarian area (Gujarat, Pakistan) have streamed overseas in sizable numbers since the 1970s. For years, legal migration was such a force that little towns here were given nicknames like Little Norway and Little Britain, for where their people had gone.

Homes here hint at the mass migration. Tidy mud-brick village houses, surrounded by wheat and rice fields, have been increasingly replaced by mansions with gaudy ironwork and colorful tiles, built with money from overseas relatives. In 2014, almost 30 percent of local households reportedly received foreign remittances.

The houses serve in a sense as billboards for smugglers, proof of money to be made abroad. Ansar Burney, a Pakistani civil rights activist who works to end people smuggling, said the message was persuasive. “If I’m living in these rural towns, I’d be convinced I should go, too,” he said.

For Mr. Shabir, the appeal was hypnotic. “We begged him not to go,” his mother, Hamida Bibi, said between desperate prayers for her son. “But he had made up his mind long ago.”


Legal migration from Pakistan peaked in 2015 when just under one million Pakistanis left to work overseas. It has since dropped almost by half, Mr. Burney said, with migrants seeking visas squeezed by concerns about terrorism in Europe and economic belt-tightening in the Persian Gulf.

“The Saudis took an initiative to reduce all overseas labor, Pakistanis included,” said Jabbar Chaudry of Pakistan’s Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment, adding, “The educated and semi-educated youth no longer have legal windows of opportunity.”

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 12, 2018 at 8:35pm

Globalisation Index 2016 (Trade, capital, information and people) : As world became less connected, India fell 16 spots over 11 years; scores lower on trade, FDI

As flows of trade and people fell the world over since the 2008 global financial crash, India dropped 16 spots to 78 (Pakistan 99) from 62 among 140 countries in 11 years , from 2005 to 2015, on a globalisation index brought out by international logistics company DHL.

The Global Connectedness Index 2016, the fourth since it was first released in 2011, prepared by Pankaj Ghemawat and Steven A Altman (both teach management at New York University Stern School of Business, United States) was released on 15 November, 2016.

The authors slotted India in the central and south Asia group along with Georgia, Turkey, Nepal, Pakistan, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Bangladesh, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyz Republic and Sri Lanka.

India ranked 133 (Pakistan 137) on depth and 21 ( Pakistan 32) on breadth among 140 countries in 2015.

The index measures the parameters on depth and breadth. Depth evaluates the extent to which countries' international flows are distributed globally or more narrowly focused, while breadth compares countries' international flows to the sizes of their domestic economies.

Trade flows are measured by exports as a share of a country's gross domestic product, capital by foreign direct investment as a share of a country's gross fixed capital and international stock market investment, information by international connectivity and people by share of international tourists and university students and migrants as a share of the population. 

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 22, 2018 at 10:40am

Mar 20 2018
Sabrina Toppa

Pakistan’s Pashtun belt has many extended families depending on one person to make ends meet, Umer says. “Most of the time, 30-50 members of an extended family are dependent on a single worker’s salary,” adds 22-year-old Sajjad Hussain, a student from Waziristan. The burden is much higher on Pashtun families.“The main reason they go abroad is because there are no job opportunities in Waziristan.” The region is beset by economic underdevelopment and the fall-out of Pakistani military operations and U.S. drone strikes, and there are few industries to employ young men outside of subsistence agriculture. Residents of Waziristan often migrate to other provinces in Pakistan in search of economic security, but often return empty-handed. “They’re living overseas for five to six years because life is better there,” Sajjad says.


Today, Pakistan is the second-largest exporter of migrant labour in South Asia, and remittances account for 7% of the country’s GDP. In 2017, approximately half a million Pakistanis migrated overseas through legal channels, though it is estimated that a far higher number sought out migration through irregular channels. Many Pakistanis spend up to USD 9,000 to find a job in countries like Saudi Arabia — in some cases spending 14 times their monthly salary for the opportunity to work abroad.


Pakistani migrants pay some of the highest recruitment fees in the world for the opportunity to work abroad, says Nasir Iqbal, an Islamabad-based researcher who has studied the cost of Gulf migration. Migrants who rely on friends or family to find jobs often pay astronomical recruitment fees, resulting in asset depletion and heavy debt traps. Part of the problem derives from the fact that most Pakistani migrants organise their jobs outside of the government’s official channels – raising the cost exponentially. If a migrant pursues labour migration through formal means, he normally pays $200-$900 for a bundle of services, the two largest components of which are visa fees and the recruitment agent’s fee. To go to Saudi Arabia outside official channels, the average labourer spends upwards of $4,000 toward the cost of migration. To reach the UAE, the amount is $2,000 on average. Migrants seeking jobs in Saudi Arabia are required to work through a licensed recruitment agency in Pakistan and the Saudi embassy, but some skirt this altogether.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 31, 2018 at 1:05pm

How the Pakistani diaspora in Barcelona established itself in the heart of the city
Ana Ballesteros Updated December 13, 2017 Facebook Count

My interest in South Asia, and specifically Pakistan, started when I finished my degree in Islamic studies in Madrid.

It was not easy to pursue South Asian studies as a Spanish scholar; unlike other European countries such as the UK, Spain still does not have a university department for this area.

I moved to India for PhD research for two years (2001-2002) when 9/11 clearly marked a change. Islam came to the forefront of international academic and non-academic interests, often for the wrong reasons.

When I returned from India, I observed that my friends in Barcelona often talked about the increasing presence of Pakistanis and other people of South Asian origin in the city.

To the delight of the British nationals in town and other more adventurous citizens, the proliferation of curry houses was a reason to celebrate the formerly less diverse culinary scene.

It was clear that the Pakistani community in Barcelona had become a talking point. Their presence was unavoidable, particularly after the prayers on Fridays. And nowhere were they more visible than in the neighbourhood of El Raval.

Many wondered where these men were from, why they dressed like that (shalwar kameez), and why they were seldom accompanied by their womenfolk.

In 2008, Casa Asia, an institution of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs that promotes knowledge of Asia in Spain, awarded me a grant.

My project was to conduct a piece of research that would be called Atlas of Pakistani Migration in Spain.

I took this opportunity to visit Pakistan and travel around Spain to go to the different places where Pakistanis had settled.

More than half of all Pakistanis in Spain lived in Catalonia, especially Barcelona, which is why I moved there in the summer of 2008.

Pakistanis in Spain
Compared with other European countries, Spain has not always been a country of immigrants.

Pakistanis, for example, have traditionally preferred to migrate to the UK, USA, Canada, and the Gulf because of the better economic prospects in those nations.

Spain has a population of approximately 46.5 million, of which 9.5% are foreigners. The main foreign nationalities represented in the country are Romanians, Moroccans, British, Italians and Chinese.

Pakistanis are 1.2% of all foreigners and barely 0.1% of the population in Spain. How have they managed, then, to attract so much attention?

One of the explanations can be found in their local concentration, in terms of both origin and destination.

Gujratis make up 44% of all Pakistanis in Spain, while in other destinations in the European Union, they are about 11%.

As for destination, more than half of all Pakistanis in Spain are in Barcelona.

At their peak, in 2012, there were about 68,000 Pakistanis in Spain, although the Spanish Institute of Statistics only accounts for those legally resident.

Several thousand others are thought to have resided there illegally.

The Pioneers
The first Pakistanis to arrive in the country were a group of about 300 Gujratis who migrated from other European countries in the 1970s and landed initially in Barcelona.

Some of the migrants had experience working in mines elsewhere in Europe and Pakistan; some had lost their jobs in factories or mines in the UK where the industrial crisis had begun; others had working experience in oil refineries in Libya.

Those were the last days of Franco’s dictatorship and Spain’s industrial labour market was small. Some migrants opened shops and boarding houses; others looked for jobs in industry or manufacturing.

Those who had no previous experience in mining had to learn from scratch. The main mines where they began to work were El Bierzo (coal) and Linares (lead), and others in La Rioja and Teruel.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 31, 2018 at 1:06pm

2.43 million Pakistanis working in Europe
By Qadeer TanoliPublished: April 24, 2017

Out of the total Pakistan’s overseas workforce, 27 per cent have jobs in European countries, revealed statistics shared by Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development with the lawmakers in the Senate.

After Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom caters to the largest overseas Pakistanis followed by Italy, France, Germany and Spain.

In response to question of senator Rozi Khan Kakar, the ministry stated that presently around 9.08 million workforce is living/working abroad, out of which, 2.43 million got job opportunities in around 25 countries of Europe.

UK at the moment has provided jobs to 1.7 million Pakistanis. Saudi Arabia continues to be the favourite destination of Pakistani workforce with 2.6 million workers. United Arab Emirates is at the fourth place in the list with 1.6 million and United States fifth with 900,350.

In Europe, Italy is providing jobs to 119,762 Pakistanis, France 104,000, Germany 90,556, Spain 82,000, Greece 70,002, Norway 38,000 and Netherlands 35,000.

Turkey is providing jobs to only 557 Pakistani workers while China has accommodated 14,355 Pakistani workers. Chile is providing jobs to 760 Pakistanis and Cuba has given job opportunities to 600 Pakistanis. Afghanistan provided jobs to 71,000 Pakistanis and India 10,000. Iran has provided jobs to 7,065 Pakistanis.

Currently, 120,216 Pakistanis have been provided jobs in Malaysia and 65,000 in Thailand.

Libya provided 12,008 Pakistanis jobs, Iraq accommodated 4,709 and Yemen 3,024. Russia gave jobs to 3,560 Pakistanis, stated the statistics.

The reply also contains that 19 Community Welfare Attaches are posted in Pakistan’s missions abroad in the countries having a sizeable concentration of Pakistanis to provide them certain facilities.

These facilities include, issuance of passports, provision of assistance in implementation of Foreign Service Agreement which is made between employee and employer and some others.


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