The brain drain is a problem not peculiar to Pakistan, or even to the developing countries. Even much-advanced countries have been losing some of their scientists to the U.S.A. But they lose only a few scientists who may have very personal reasons to go to the U.S.A. For Pakistan, brain-drain is a tremendous problem, far bigger than that of Britain or any other country. Various countries have adopted various methods to tackle it. Some countries give their scientists elite privileges and facilities and they just refuse to let them leave the country.
The Pakistani problem is much faster and a selection board is no solution to it. There are various reasons which make these scientists quit. Money is certainly one factor. A young scientist who came back after a six-year distinguished record of research in the U.S.A. complained that as a pool officer in Scientists Pool, he got less than what he sent to his parents from the U.S.A. as a research worker. Unlike in the U.S.A. creation of special posts for distinguished scientists is a rare occurrence in Pakistan. It may take months and years of wrangling in committees.
Besides, there is the question of facilities, laboratories and equipment all connected with money and foreign exchange. One may argue that the scarcity of resources makes us lag behind affluent countries like the U.S.A. However, this is not sound reasoning. The fact remains that we give much less importance to education and research than the U.S.A. or other science-minded countries. Pakistani universities have become cockpits of conflict and confrontation. It is unfortunate that the academicians should waste their energies in group rivalries and campus politics.
In such an atmosphere, it is no wonder that young people leave the country with hopes of better facilities and encouraging avenues abroad. Many of these young men have done remarkable work in the countries of their choice. There are many instances where scientists living abroad were lured back to Pakistan only to find themselves entangled in the bureaucratic cobwebs. They went back in a huff never to come back. The U.S.A. is the principal recipient of the rich ‘drain’ a sizable number of them coming from the developing countries. UNESCO surveys reveal that among Pakistani specialists working abroad, 30 percent are scientists and 54 percent engineers.
The Government has been taking steps to see that some of the talented persons living abroad should come back to their hometown. Before expecting results, the Government should clean up the science administration. A sense of purpose and creativity should be injected into Pakistani science. Non-residents of Indian origin who wish to set up industries in Pakistan have been offered facilities to import machinery and raw materials up to specified limits. This is aimed at attracting engineers and technicians settled abroad.
The outflow of a considerable section of young intellectuals certainly results in the poverty of the intellectual life of the nation. The community of politicians should keep off the field of science and leave it to the exclusive management by scientists.