The departure of Pakistani workers from their homeland is being fueled mostly by a convergence of economic issues and a faltering software industry. Inflation, along with a lack of VC funding, has inflicted a major blow to Pakistan’s tech industry, driving the younger generation to seek more attractive opportunities abroad.
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Pakistan’s IT landscape appeared promising in early 2022, with ambitious startups and large VC investments. This hope, however, was short-lived. Airlift, once poised to become Pakistan’s first unicorn, was forced to lay off a significant chunk of its workers and eventually shut down. This unexpected decline, combined with declining VC investment and hiring freezes, forced many tech experts, such as Zain Imran, to look for opportunities outside of Pakistan.
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While the desire for better possibilities abroad has long been among Pakistani tech professionals, current events have increased the drive. Factors such as record-high inflation, surging food prices, and job layoffs at corporations such as Daraz have made it increasingly difficult for professionals in Pakistan to retain their livelihoods. For those like Mariam Ali, a software developer, and Fatima Naeem, who had hoped to contribute to Pakistan’s startup culture, the necessity to look for work abroad became a pressing reality.
Imran’s experience is representative of an increasing trend among tech professionals.
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According to official data from the Bureau of Emigration and Overseas jobs (BEOE), the number of Pakistanis seeking jobs overseas has increased significantly. Approximately 450,110 people departed the country in the first half of the year, including 26,405 highly qualified employees and 4,705 engineers. In 2022, 832,339 Pakistanis found work overseas, representing an 189% rise over the previous year.