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    why pakistanis are moving abroad

    follwin article balanced view of why pakistanis immigrating

    The Canadian perspective

    Murtaza Haider

    In a recent article in The News titled, "Why Pakistanis are moving abroad," Imtiaz Rafi Butt offered some half-baked theories about the mass outward migration from Pakistan. He criticised Canadian immigration policies and accused Canadian Jews and others of conspiring against Muslims. As a Pakistani-Canadian, I am appalled by the xenophobia-laden ignorance, which was the highlight of the said article. In the following paragraphs, I will try to present a portrait of the Canadian society, which is striving hard to become a "just society." I will also offer my two cents on why Pakistanis are heading abroad.

    Since the time immemorial, human migration patterns were dictated by the location of resources. In the agrarian economies of the past and present, migration patterns responded to the fertility of land, and water resources. In the industrial age, migration patterns have been decreed by the concentration of jobs in high population density (urban) areas. Consider the historic cities of Lahore and Peshawar. The urbanisation of these cities initiated centuries ago, when semi-skilled and skilled workers (Pesha-war) left their rural abodes to find work in cities. In the modern times, the scarcity of work in rural settings and the lure of lucrative jobs in cities have propelled urbanisation all over the world.

    The urbanisation of large Pakistani cities continues unabated. The population pressure in urban Pakistan has continuously risen in the past five decades, while the urban infrastructure (roads, sewage, water supply, law and order) has deteriorated simultaneously. Today, cities like Rawalpindi can not offer its citizens the basic amenities, such as clean drinking water. The price of a tank of non-potable water in Rawalpindi ranges between 500 to 1000 rupees, while the municipal taps have long dried up.

    The population pressure and the deteriorating urban infrastructure in Pakistan caused the inevitable: urban areas failed to create jobs at a pace that could meet the demand. This resulted in a surplus of labour, which was predominantly young. Pakistani urban demographics are no different from demographics of the developing world where more than 45% of the population is less than 20 years old. The first wave of outward migration from Pakistan, in the sixties, headed to the Middle East where unskilled or semi-skilled labour was required to toil in the petroleum industry. Employment opportunities in the Gulf did not attract the urban youth, who were educated and skilled. The rural labour force leapfrogged through the urban experience in Pakistan and headed out to the Gulf. These expatriates helped build the economy of the Middle Eastern states and that of Pakistan for decades.

    In the nineties, demographic imbalances in urban Pakistan posed new challenges. Urban youth were in majority, skilled (even university educated) and predominantly unemployed. The 1999 Census revealed that 38% of the population in Islamabad was less than 15 years old. Another 52% of population was in its prime working age, 15 to 49 years old. The unemployment rate in the rural Islamabad is 20% higher than in the urban Islamabad. The urbanisation of the most planned city in Pakistan will thus continue, increasing pressure on urban infrastructure and demand for employment opportunities. At the same time, the urban economies in Pakistan will fail in creating sufficient employment opportunities for skilled labour for numerous reasons that are beyond the scope of this article.

    It was only inevitable that a new wave of outward migration of educated and skilled Pakistanis to foreign economies, which appreciated their skills and potential, should materialise. These migration patterns are universal, ie, skilled youth from Asia are replacing older cohorts of workers in the western economies. If anything, these migration trends will intensify as the baby-boomers approach their retirement age in North America. Similar demographic trends are apparent in Western Europe.

    Unlike in the Middle East, where South Asian workers were prevented from assimilating with the indigenous populations, immigrants in North America and Europe were encouraged to assimilate with the locals. Pakistani diaspora in the west, eg, Canada, the United States, England, and France have assimilated with varying degrees of success. Pakistanis own properties and businesses, contest elections for municipal and state legislatures, and their children are educated along with the rest in public schools. These basic human rights were denied by the Middle Eastern states, whose economies were fuelled by the blood and sweat of South Asian workers. It is only but natural, that the youth in Pakistan follow the centuries-old tradition of migration in search of employment and happiness.

    The writer claimed that "most people who have settled in Canada during the last decade are Muslims." This claim is entirely fictional. According to the Canadian statistics, Muslim immigrants to Canada have always been a small percentage of the total immigrants. Consider the fact that last year 189,816 individuals migrated to Canada. Of these 165,387 were regular immigrants, while 24,367 were refugees. Most migrants in 1999 (32,800) hailed from China and Hong Kong, followed by India (17,415) and Pakistan (9,285). The only other major source of Muslim immigrants is Iran with 5,903 immigrants in 1999. The total share of Muslim immigrants is approximately 20% or less of the total annual immigrants. The share of Muslim immigrants is similar to or less than the share from the Orient and is proportionate to their global populations. I wonder how the writer concluded that Jews in Canada would conspire with the gentiles against Muslims. Statistics paint a very different picture where Canadian Muslims pose no threat to people of any ethnic or religious background.

    In 2001, Canada will hold the quinquennial census in which Canadian Muslims are expected to emerge as the second largest faith-group in Canada after Christians of various denominations. Muslims will replace Jews who will then become the third largest faith-group. Canadian demographers and policy makers have been aware of this development for years. Had there been a conspiracy, there was enough time and opportunity to reverse these trends. In fact, the opposite has happened. Pakistan and Iran improved their rankings in supplying immigrants to Canada. Pakistan became the third largest source of immigrants/refugees to Canada, up from fifth in 1998.

    The fact that Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, and Sikhs live in perfect harmony in Canada should be of no surprise. In the suburbs of Toronto, on Bayview Avenue, a mosque and a Jewish synagogue share a common wall. There are more than 30 mosques in Toronto and its suburbs. This number continues to grow. In 1998, municipal authorities in Toronto objected to the construction of a mosque since it violated zoning bylaws regarding parking spaces. The entire city rallied behind the Muslim community, supporting their plans for the mosque. Newspaper columnists, opinion-makers and the like lent their voice in support of the mosque. Today, hundreds of Muslims in Toronto pray in that mosque in the Thorncliffe Park neighbourhood.

    Canada stands out as a society that celebrates tolerance, equity, and justice. These principles are reflected in the manner Canada chooses new immigrants. Canadian social policies are not based on "demographic aggression" as the writer alleged, but on multiculturalism. Canadians celebrate Eid, Christmas, Deewali, and Hanukah and are encouraged to promote their cultures and beliefs, while they are also encouraged to assimilate into the national fabric. Canada has become a natural destination for people who appreciate hard work and would like to be recognised, compensated, and respected for their contributions in building an economy and a society.

    Pierre Elliot Trudeau, the most revered Canadian and a former prime minister once said, "Canada should be a just society." Thirty years since, Canada has made great progress towards becoming a just society. Canada is still far from being a perfect society. Canadian natives (Inuit, First Nations, and Aboriginal) did not receive their due share of the Canadian riches. Native youth experience an alarmingly high rate of drug addition and unemployment. Canadian women face the 'glass ceiling' as they struggle to rise in ranks in the echelons of power. Women earn 10% to 25% less than their male colleagues for doing similar jobs. The same is true for visible minorities. Canada is on the path to become a 'just society' and asks others to join in, if they believe in the principles of equity, hard work, honesty, and humility.


    Opinion Next

    The News International, Pakistan

    [This message has been edited by rvikz (edited December 17, 2000).]

    Because they have no food in Pakistan what is left is the bullets.


      Originally posted by sajjadm:
      Because they have no food in Pakistan what is left is the bullets.
      your cooments are crude.

      most of the people going to west are educated
      and lot of money to invest .


        Hey rvikz great article.
        Thanks for posting it here.
        I will give my comment later, even i agree with everything this guy as said.

        You can't fix stupid. So might as well troll them!



          Yeah as if hehe !! they have plenty of food in india


            Rvkz: Thanx 4-posting this intersting and informative article (like you usually do). You are also right that most ppl who migrate to t/ U.S. & t/ West generally are highly educated people i.e. doctors/ engrs & othr professionals and have invested quite a sum in their edcation.

            Yes, I also see a lot of desis driving cabs in major U.S. cities such as Chicago, New York, but most of these desis eithr return to finish up thr schools or invest in their own business eventually. For e.g. a couple of Doctor frnds of mine drove cabs for abt 8-9 mnths while waiting for their residency calls. Mind you, Taxicabs drivers apparently get paid more than other minor jobs available to a foreigner who is also trying to suport his family back home who in turn have either sold thier land or their jewellery (yes, I know a frnd whose Mom sold her wedding jewllery) to send thr sons' for a better, more prosperous future in t/ West.

            Sajdam or whoever you are: India is no less different, since culturally t/ family backgrounds are almost, if not exactly t/ same. You just showed your ignorance yet again. In U.S. t/ Indian immgrants are coming in droves in t/ fields of computers etc. So what in t/ world are you talking abt??

            I know it's too much for your pea brain, but @ least TRY & Think b-4 you speak!!


              Lolzzzzzzzzzzzzz hahahahah good 1 funky desi !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

              Watch out!