Saturday, December 2, 2023
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Greece Tragedy: address the basic issue of unemployment

Waheed Hussain 

Mothers are waiting for good news as many Pakistanis are still missing from the fishing trawler (boat) capsized in the bloody waters of Mediterranean near Greece. The pain that families of the dead and missing are passing through is unexplainable in any phraseology. Only victims and sufferers could feel the agony. The rest are gossip, accusations, and criticism.  

The immediate reaction from the government was to blame the human traffickers and a crackdown against agents involved in the illegal business. It was an effort to give the impression that the whole problem was the agents, while the government was free from any responsibility. The Prime Minister, Interior Minister, Defense Minister, and many others issued statements to show their concern and commitment to punish the culprits.

Excellent performance. But those arrested will be out of jail after a few days, either by paying money to investigative staff, or getting bail from courts. The issue would be forgotten in a few days as a new issue will come up to keep the social and conventional media including news channels-newspapers busy with the coverage. The authorities and masses will forget the tragedy and the file will be closed and business will resume as usual.

The question is very simple. How illegal travelers leave the country either through land route by crossing Baluchistan border entering Iran to Turkey and further to Greece, Italy, and Europe, (although this unfortunate fishing trawler left from Libyan town of Tobruk.) How do these, illegal immigrants leave the country by using the international airports and land borders? Could we accept this argument that without some help from the officials deployed at the border and airports, these illegal travelers depart the country? Those deployed at airports and land borders must have a role. Only a blind can say I did not see any movement or crossing.

The illegal action of an individual could not be associated with the whole institute. However, people at the top must be held responsible and they should take strict action against their subordinates who allow human trafficking. Corrupt mafias and criminals are everywhere. When people can reach European countries without legal and required documents (passport visa etc.) it means that officials of the destination states are also involved in the crime.  From a human trafficking point of view the European nations need to shoulder responsibility as well.

The most appropriate argument would be, why are young people so desperate to put their life at risk for reaching the developed, advanced, financially, economically, and politically stable countries? Why do they convince their parents and family members to sell their precious assets including residence, land, or jewelry to finance their travelling abroad? In some cases, they arrange money from friends or take loans. The reason was that Pakistan was passing through the worst kind of unemployment, Poverty, and price hike. Every increasing inflation has broken the back of the masses. People needed multiple sources of income to meet their needs. They need jobs, they need money. That’s why they put their lives at risk and try to reach rich countries to make good money.

There are four categories of unemployed people in Pakistan. First, those who were employed in the cotton or other factories in Faisalabad and Karachi but due to financial difficulties and increased cost of production a large number of factories have shut down. Increases in energy prices like electricity and gas are also increasing the cost of various products while at the same time reducing the margin of profits.

As the rupee is depreciating against the dollar, the cost of imported raw material and machinery is adding to the cost of production. The increase in the State Bank of Pakistan policy rate, which is 21 percent highest in the history of Pakistan, is again adding to the cost of production lowering the margin of profits. So, the factory owners cut the expense by reducing the staff or in some cases totally closing their units.

In the last one-year millions of workers have been left jobless.

The second category of unemployed are those who were working with international business outfits or welfare organizations. The big foreign companies like automobile, Shell Pakistan and many others are moving out of Pakistan causing unemployment.

The third category of unemployed is millions of fresh graduates. Suppose If there is an announcement for a post, you may find hundreds of thousands applying for the same. These were those young graduates on whom the parents had spent millions of rupees to complete their education, get a degree and start earning to support the family. In the present circumstances there was little hope of getting a job.

The fourth category of unemployed is those who were neither educated nor had any professional skill. Mostly, they are from rural areas of Pakistan. Where their families are working in the agriculture sector just making enough for two meals.

As the economy is in bad condition, currency has lost its value against the US dollar, the jobless people try hard to leave the country and find good opportunities in foreign land either by legal or illegal manner. In this fight for survival mostly the youth are trapped by human smugglers and criminals to accept their offer, pay them millions, while putting their lives in danger. This is what happened to all victims of the Greece Tragedy.

Due to political uncertainty and economic instability thousands of well-educated people have left the country in recent times. That we call it brain drain. Many businessmen shut down their businesses and shifted to the US, Australia, Canada, and other European countries. In the uncertain environment nobody is interested in staying in the country. In such a situation whosoever gets a chance, either legal or illegal, would prefer to move out of the country.

What we need is political stability which would ensure economic stability. unfortunately the successive governments have disappointed the nation. People are in despair, see no hope in the governments, state institutions and political leadership. If social, political, and economic situations remain the same, we may unfortunately experience such disasters in future too. Our rulers must change their mindset. We all must give up our egos and think about people and country. All powerful individuals and institutions should sit across the table to find a permanent solution to the challenges we are facing today. Internal fights for petty personal gains will further harm the country. Just arresting a few individuals would not address the issue, the unemployed need a source of income.    

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