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Fleeing Pakistanis

by Newsweek Pakistan

Nikolay Doychinov—AFP

Would-be migrants are finding new routes to abscond from their homeland

Last week, a boat ferrying migrants capsized in the Mediterranean, drowning 90 people, 11 of them Pakistanis. The boat began its journey in Libya, which means that Pakistanis somehow reached the restive state after traveling across the African coast to get to Europe. Refugees enter Europe on many routes but the most crowded route remains the Libya-Italy journey, which accounts for 65 percent of all entrants.

The International Organization for Migration has pointed out that Pakistanis made up the 13th largest group trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe with 3,138 of them arriving in Italy in 2017. One thought Pakistanis preferred the land route and got themselves smuggled through Iran and Turkey to reach Greece in the European Union, most intending to finally get to the United Kingdom. The pattern is clearly changing and so is the pain of staying home. On record, it was the Afghan refugees fleeing Afghanistan because of the ongoing war there that rendered the state dysfunctional in providing protection to its citizens. Is the Pakistani state becoming dysfunctional too?

Half of the Afghan refugees fleeing their country are lodged in Pakistan, which comes to nearly 400,000. Conflict has also triggered internal migration: large segments of the populations of the tribal areas have moved to Karachi, which is today the largest Pashtun city in the world. Conflict and crime have spread to more areas where the population is now being forced to move. The comparison with the failed state of Afghanistan is becoming more and more relevant while Pakistan’s economy is now increasingly difficult to manage. The inability to contain its population is further complicated by the general disappearance of the writ of the state in large areas from where it is being accused of allowing terrorists to strike across its borders.

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