The dream of a better life is at the heart of human experience and it is no different for people in Pakistan wishing to come to Australia.
Reported with the assistance of Zeeshan Yaqub and Azmat Khan, from the University of Peshawar.
The tumultuous history of Pakistan has most recently manifested itself in a decade of terrorism and conflict. Sectarian violence continues to be an issue with 121 people killed in attacks already in 2017 according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal.
Many in Pakistan look to Australia for its safety, opportunities in education and jobs, and see a chance to live safer, more prosperous lives.
Managing Director of Zahaq Associates, an immigration consultancy firm in Peshawar, Dr. Zahur-ul-Haq said that there are three types of people who go to Australia from Pakistan: skilled migrants, students and tourists.
He said he charges 600,000 Lakhs, or about $7,600, for a full visa application.
The Heritage Foundation estimates that the current GDP of Pakistan is sitting at $931 billion USD, putting it about $200M USD behind Australia. Given the country’s population of 190 million this means it is significantly poorer that of Australia on a per capita basis.
They note that the nation is attempting economic reform, but corruption and issues with the rule of law are serious and are holding back progress.
“Pakistan has pursued reforms to improve its entrepreneurial environment and facilitate private-sector development…however, overall progress lags significantly behind other countries in the region,” the Heritage Foundation said.
“The judicial system suffers from a serious backlog and poor security, and corruption continues to taint the judiciary and civil service.”
Hanif Butt is a full time driver in Peshawar and wants to emigrate for both economic and safety reasons.
“Here law and order is worse, police annoy us, road accidents, car snatchers, we cannot make money here through driving, I want safe and secure society where I can earn my livelihood,” Hanif said.
“Another reason I want to migrate is to keep myself and family safe from militancy and conflicts.”
Recent graduate Fawad Khan said that he wants to go abroad because of the opportunity to earn more.
“I can send back good amount of money to my home, then they can have a home, car and good life here in less time, whereas I can’t get these things in Pakistan even if I earn my whole life.”
Pakistan Welfare Organisation in Australia President Syed Abidi confirms the economic reasons for living in Australia but notes certain difficulties for students living here.
“The main reason is after finishing studies, a student can stay and apply for residency as it’s one of the most liveable countries in the world,” he said.
He said that there are issues as there aren’t many jobs for students, accommodation is hard to find and there are not many places that serve Halal food for the mostly Islamic community.
Some Pakistani students don’t plan to stay after studying in Australia, when they return home they can contribute valuable skills and experience to the wider Pakistani society.
Pakistani Student Association of Australia former president Sherry Khan said he chose to study the IT system SAP because there was a skill shortage in Pakistan.
“We had Nestle and Lehman Brothers, the two big organisations that wanted a lot of SAP people working for them, so I applied for SAP because I wanted to learn and go back and do it and get paid well,” he said.
Mr Khan says that as other western countries talk tough on immigration, Pakistanis feel welcome in Australia.
“They are being welcomed in Australia and they are actually happy to be here where nobody says anything mean to anybody.”