Thursday, June 27, 2024

Growing Pakistani Diaspora in North America

The US government granted 16,320 immigrant visas to Pakistani nationals. Another 11,861 immigrant visas were given to Pakistanis by the Canadian government in the same period.  The total number of new Pakistani immigrants admitted as permanent residents in North America in 2023 was 28,181. 

There are currently over a million Pakistanis living in North America. These include 687,942 Pakistanis in America as of 2020, according to the US Census. And 303,260 Pakistanis residing in Canada as of 2021, according to Statistics Canada. There are nearly 6 million people from India living in North America, according to government data. 

Pakistani Diaspora in North America. Source: US, Canadian Governments

Non-immigrant visas issued annually by the US government to Pakistani passport holders have almost doubled over the last 5 years, from 40,679 in 2018 to 80,852 in 2023, according to Gallup Pakistan. Meanwhile, immigrant visas issued annually to Pakistani citizens have increased by about 60% in the last 5 years, from 10,114 in 2018 to 16,320 in 2023. 

Pakistani immigrants make up the 25th largest group in America, far behind immigrants from Mexico, India and China. In Canada, Pakistani immigrants are the 5th largest group of foreign-born residents. 

Top 8 Source Countries of Foreign Students in US. Source: IIE OpenDoors

Pakistani student enrollment in America's institutions of higher learning rose 16% last year, outpacing the record 12% growth in the overall number of international students hosted by the country. This puts Pakistan among eight sources in the top 20 countries with the largest increases in US enrollment. India saw the biggest increase at 35%, followed by Ghana 32%, Bangladesh and Nepal at 28% each, Pakistan 16%, Colombia 13%, Italy 10% and Spain 5%. 

"During 2022-2023, there were 10,164 Pakistani students, compared to 8,772 in the previous year, indicating an impressive 16% increase," according to IIE Open Doors Report for 2022-23. There has been an overall 33% increase in enrollment of Pakistani students in US colleges and universities. 

The average annual household earnings of Pakistani-Americans are $149,178, according to the latest update issued by the United States Census Bureau for 2022. The update estimates the median income of 132,958 Pakistani-American households at $106,281. Average is calculated by adding up all incomes and dividing it by total number of households. Median income level divides the top 50% of families from the bottom 50%.  It shows that Pakistani-American household incomes are roughly at par with the Asian-American households' median of $104,646 and average of $149,363. The highest income ethnic group in the US are Asian Indian households with a median of $152,341 and average of $197,732.  Asians are significantly richer than Whites (mean $78,636, average $112,415) and African Americans (mean $52,238, average $76,888). The word "alone" in the labels in the following table excludes mixed race households. 

South Asian Americans Households. Source: US Census Update 2022

Asian Americans are the best educated racial group in the United States. From 2012 to 2022, the percentage of adults age 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or more increased from 34.5% to 41.8% for the non-Hispanic White population; from 21.2% to 27.6% for the Black population; from 51% to 59.3% for the Asian population; and from 14.5% to 20.9% for the Hispanic population, according to the US Census
Educational Attainment By Racial Groups (Source: US Census)

Among Asian Americans, the Indians (three quarters) have the highest educational attainment with at least a bachelor's degree, followed by Koreans and Pakistanis (about 60%), followed by the rest.  

Asian American Educational Achievement by Countries of Origin. Source: US Census

Asians, including Chinese/Taiwanese, Indians and Pakistanis, tend to be concentrated in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Technology) fields where incomes are generally much higher than in other occupations. 

As of 2019, there were 35,000 Pakistan-born STEM workers in the United States, according to the American Immigration Council. They included information technologists, software developers, engineers and scientists. These figures do not include medical doctors and healthcare workers. 

Foreign-Born STEM Workers in America. Source: American Immigration Council

Foreign-born workers make up a growing share of America's STEM workforce. As of 2019, foreign-born workers made up almost a quarter of all STEM workers in the country. This is a significant increase from 2000, when just 16.4% of the country’s STEM workforce was foreign-born. Between 2000 and 2019, the overall number of STEM workers in the United States increased by 44.5 percent, from 7.5 million to more than 10.8 million, according to American Immigration Council

India and Pakistan Among Top 10 Countries Receiving US Immigrant Visas. Source: Visual Capitalist

India topped the top 10 list of foreign-born STEM workers with 721,000, followed by China (273,000), Mexico (119,000), Vietnam (100,000), Philippines (87,000), South Korea (64,000), Canada (56,000), Taiwan (53,000), Russia (45,000) and Pakistan (35,000).  Enormous number of Indian STEM workers in the United States can at least partly be attributed to the fact that India's "body shops" have mastered the art of gaming the US temporary work visa system. Last year, Indian nationals sponsored by "body shops" like Cognizant, Infosys and TCS received 166,384 H1B visas for work in the United States. By comparison, only 1,107 Pakistanis were granted H1B visas in Fiscal Year 2022.  In addition to H1B work visas, 9,300 Indian nationals and 7,200 Pakistani nationals received immigrant visas to settle in the United States as permanent residents in 2021. 

Doctor Brain Drain. Source: Statista

In addition to 35,000 Pakistan-born STEM workers, there were 12,454 Pakistan-born and Pakistan-trained medical doctors practicing in the United States, making the South Asian nation the second largest source of medical doctors in America.  Pakistan produced 157,102 STEM graduates last year, putting it among the world's top dozen or so countries. About 43,000 of these graduates are in information technology (IT).

H1B Visas Issued in Pakistan. Source:

Every year, applicants sponsored by Indian body shops claim the lion's share of H1B visas. In 2022, Indians received 166,384 new H1B visas, accounting for nearly three quarters of all such visas issued by the US government. The figures reported as India IT exports are in fact the wages earned by millions of Indian H1B workers in the United States.  

Many developing countries are experiencing brain drain. But India is losing its best brightest at a much faster rate than others. Some call it "The Great Indian Brain Drain". This is the reason why Indians in the United States are the best educated and the highest earning group.  In a recently published book titled "The Other One Percent", authors Sanjoy Chakravorty, Devesh Kapur and Nirvikar Singh explain this phenomenon. 

They write that the vast majority of Indians who migrate to the United States are from privileged backgrounds in terms of caste, class and education. They have gone through “a triple selection” process that gave Indian-Americans a boost over typically poor and uneducated immigrants who come to the United States from other countries. The first two selections took place in India. As explained in the book: “The social system created a small pool of persons to receive higher education, who were urban, educated, and from high/dominant castes.” India’s examination system then selected individuals for specialized training in technical fields that also happened to be in demand in the United States. Kapur estimated that the India-American population is nine times more educated than individuals in the home country. Here's an excerpt of it:

"A major focus of this book is on demonstrating and understanding the multiple selections that shaped the Indian-American population. These selections applied not only to education (that, in terms of attaining college degrees, made the India-born population three times more educated than that in the host country and nine times more educated than the home country’s population) but also to class and caste (favoring, by large margins, the “upper” and dominant classes and castes of India), profession (engineering, IT, and health care), and both the region of origin (Gujarati and Punjabi were overrepresented in the first two phases, and Telugu and Tamil in the third phase) and region of settlement (in specific metropolitan clusters in and around New York City, the San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Houston and Dallas). In addition to direct selection is what we call the “selection+” advantage: we suggest that group characteristics or norms, such as the fact that Indians had the highest propensity to live in married-couple households of any major immigrant group, added to the advantages of being an already selected group. We show, in particular, how family norms were useful in keeping the Indian-American poverty level low (under 5 percent) and family income high (the highest in the United States). It is also likely that the selection process enabled, without explicitly intending to, the generation of high levels of social capital (through linguistic/ professional networks such as Gujarati entrepreneurs in the hotel industry, Telugu and Tamil workers in the IT industry, IIT engineers, Malayali nurses, Bengali academics, etc.)"

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Riaz Haq said...

The establishment of the National Center for Quantum Computing could be a critical step – if Pakistan can overcome economic constraints and a significant brain drain.
By Zohaib Altaf and Nimrah Javed
June 27, 2024

Pakistan is poised to make significant strides in the field of quantum technology with the establishment of its National Center for Quantum Computing, as announced by Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal. This initiative marks a critical step toward overcoming the global quantum divide – if Pakistan can overcome the associated challenges, including economic constraints and a significant brain drain.

Globally, the quantum technology market is expected to burgeon, reaching an estimated $106 billion by 2040. This growth is fueled by robust investments, with private investors pouring $1.5 billion into quantum startups in 2023 alone. Public sector investment has also been significant, surpassing $38 billion globally. The United States, European Union, and Canada collectively committed over $3 billion in 2022. China leads the way with a staggering $15.3 billion total investment.

Despite these global advancements, a significant quantum divideexists, as the majority of countries lack national quantum initiatives. This divide creates substantial disparities in technological capabilities and economic opportunities. Countries without robust quantum technology infrastructures are at risk of falling behind, facing increased cyber vulnerabilities, and struggling to compete in the global economy.

For Pakistan, this divide is particularly concerning. Kaspersky Lab has ranked Pakistan among the most unprotected countriesin terms of cybersecurity, highlighting the urgent need for improved defenses as countries venture into the quantum technology domain.

India’s ambitious quantum initiatives further underscore the challenges facing Pakistan. India’s investment in quantum technology not only bolsters its technological capabilities but also poses a strategic challenge to Pakistan. India has also announced its National Quantum Mission, investing approximately $740 million over eight years. In addition, India is also cooperating with the United States, Australia, and Russia on quantum technology, forging strategic partnerships to enhance its capabilities and position in the global quantum landscape.

The Indian Army’s emphasis on integrating quantum computinginto its defense systems highlights the potential for a significant shift in the regional balance of power. Pakistani Army Chief Gen. Asim Munir has acknowledged these developments, emphasizing the importance of Pakistan’s investment in quantum computingto maintain its strategic equilibrium.

However, Pakistan’s efforts to establish a successful quantum initiative are hindered by several challenges. The most pressing issue is the ongoing brain drain. From 1971 to 2022, over 6 million highly qualified and skilled professionals emigrated from Pakistan, including doctors, engineers, and IT experts. In 2022 alone, 92,000 highly educated professionals left the country, with nearly 200,000 people emigrating in the first three months of 2023. This trend poses a substantial challenge to Pakistan’s efforts to build and sustain a robust quantum technology sector.

In a country where illiteracy rates are high and educational standards are low, the mass exodus of young and educated professionals is particularly troubling. According to the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, 67 percent of Pakistani youths want to leave the country. This statistic underscores the difficulty of retaining talent and bringing back professionals from abroad to work on quantum initiatives. The challenge is further compounded by Pakistan’s economic situation. The country is currently under an IMF program, which imposes stringent financial constraints and increases the risks associated with investing in high-cost technologies like quantum computing.

Arun said...

Why does what India does in technology development pose a challenge to Pakistan?

Either you are competitive with the world or you are not. Nothing to do with India unless India is the world leader, which in quantum computing it is not.

Vineeth said...

India's investments in such technologies shouldn't really pose any more of a "threat" to Pakistan than it does to Bangladesh, Nepal or Sri Lanka IF Pakistan were to abandon its fruitless and foolish pursuit of a piece of land that it never once controlled in its independent existence, and thereby strive to change the borders that has stood unaltered for 75 years. I have never quite understood what it is about India-controlled portion of Kashmir that is so important for Pakistan to make it the "core issue" that needs to be resolved before peace and normalization can happen, when the country has seemingly managed well for seven decades without it. By contrast, India is a status-quo power that is more or less comfortable with its current borders. Though it maintains a claim over AJK and GB (PoK in Indian political lexicon) as a matter of formality, I have never seen the Indian leadership so vocal or obsessed with the idea of grabbing those territories as the Pakistani establishment has been about Indian-ruled J&K and Ladakh. And as for "Akhand Bharat" or calls to capture PoK, it is merely another empty talk to keep BJP's core voterbase happy during elections. No one else here cares three straws about PoK. In fact, many, if not most, Indians may not be even aware that one-third of J&K and Ladakh that they see in "official" Indian maps is actually under Pakistani control. And I'm quite sure nobody in Modi govt is mad enough to start a destructive war for the sake of it.

Both countries (and Pakistan in particular, by being the one who has this obsessive desire for a change in the status-quo) need to get pragmatic and make a mutually acceptable compromise in which neither side loses anything. And that involves pulling the plug on cross-border militant groups, stopping incendiary rhetoric against each other, normalizing relations, formalizing the de-facto borders and giving up claims over territory controlled by the other, and eventually reach some mutual agreement to allow some level of autonomy and cross-border travel for the inhabitants on both sides. In that order. They all cannot be accomplished in one go and has to be done in the step-by-step manner as the mutual trust needs to be built up over time. It would take many years and perhaps even decades considering the decades of mistrust and animosity on both sides.

I am quite sure that even Modi govt despite its posturing is interested in normalizing relations with Pakistan as China remains the greater, long-term challenge for India, and they would want to avoid a conflict on two fronts. But Pakistan cannot realistically expect Modi & Co to make any unilateral compromises on Kashmir issue as per Pakistan's desire considering BJP's brand of ultra-nationalist politics and the steady weakening of Pakistan's leverage due to its own chronic economic, political and internal security troubles.

To sum up, much of the "threat" Pakistan faces from India has been its own making. For instance, a couple of days back a Balochistan minister was doing a presser about how India is funding both BLA and TTP attacks in the province. Possibly true. But India would not have taken that step had Pakistan not been meddling in India-controlled Kashmir by funding, arming and infiltrating jihadi groups like LeT and JeM. Its tit-for-tat.

Riaz Haq said...

Vineeth:"To sum up, much of the "threat" Pakistan faces from India has been its own making"

You are being naive. The real issue is India's pursuit of regional hegemony in South Asia as a step toward its "superpower" dream.

The revival of the Hindutva talk of "Akhand Bharat" is not a mere reference to history.

Here’s an interesting thesis submitted to Fort Leavenworth by an Indian colonel about India’s ambition to be the unchallenged regional hegemon in South Asia and how Pakistan stands in its way


A thesis presented to the Faculty of the U.S. Army
Command and General Staff College in partial
fulfillment of the requirements for the


M.Sc., Defence Studies, Madras University, 1988

"India's neighbors compel
them to view India as being a common foe. Pakistan which is
the only country in the region which can, to some extent,
challenge Indian hegemony, has greatly benefitted by such
perceptions of other countries. Due to the Kashmir issue,
Pakistan has viewed India as an enemy country right from the
time of partition in 1947 when they fought their first war
over Kashmir. Pakistan's claim to Kashmir is based on the
religion. Islam, a rallying point for separate statehood
for Indian Muslims during the British days, continues to be
the essential element of Pakistan's foreign policy
formulation. Therefore, the fear of militarily and
industrially powerful India representing potential Hindu
domination has remained the essence of Pakistan's South
Asian outlook. Consequently, the defence policy of Pakistan
has revolved around the central theme of containing Indian
attempts to achieve regional hegemony"


"No Hegemon Anymore
The unified South Asian nation would also put an end
to the present problem of India trying to acquire the status
of a hegemon among the other smaller South Asian countries.
The problem of Indian hegemony is such that it can not be
resolved easily under the present political division of
South Asia. Presently, to end this problem, it requires,
that either India become extremely strong compared to her
neighbors, so that they start acknowledging India's hegemon
status or some other state, most probably, Pakistan becoming
equally strong as India. However, there is not even a
remote possibility of either of the above occurring in a
foreseeable future. Compared to its neighbors, India's
elements of national power are much greater and it would be
extremely difficult for Pakistan to acquire status equal to
that of India.
On the other hand, despite her strong elements of
national power, India is still ridden with too many problems
to achieve an absolute hegemony in the region. In any case
such an absolute hegemony may be impossible to achieve
because of the international politics such as aid to
Pakistan from the Islamic countries, China or the USA. In
an unified South Asian nation, the people would be able to
identify themselves with the nation, more intensely, due to
its strength and size. There would not be any compulsions,
like the present, for the smaller nations to gang up to
counter the hegemonic tendencies of the big neighbor, India,
as there would be just one unified nation, of which they and
India would be parts of..."

Riaz Haq said...

The talk of hegemony and reunification extends beyond Col Hardev Singh's thesis. It has been pushed by other Indian analysts like Ashley Tellis and Rajan Menon.

Asia 2025, a US Defense Department Study produced in summer of 1999, forecast that Pakistan would "disappear" as an independent state by 2015. It further forecast that Pakistan would become part of a "South Asian Superstate" controlled by India as a "regional hegemon". Two Indian-American "South Asia experts" contributed to this study. Much of the forecast in its "New South Asian Order" section appears to be wishful thinking of its Indian contributors.

Vineeth said...

No sir, it is you (and Pakistanis in general) who are either exaggerating or imagining things here. Why are you even lending any credence to such outlandish ideas and predictions peddled by some nutcases? Their "predictions" are honestly laughable. It would be a waste of time to even discuss it. Do you seriously believe that Indian govt's policies are driven by such fanciful ideas?

And why is India's so-called "pursuit of regional hegemony" in South Asia not bothering other countries in the region so much as it does Pakistan? India dominates South Asia on account of its huge population and economy relative to those of other countries in the region, and that is natural. And due to the growing military challenge it faces from China on its northern frontier and the IOR, it is equally natural that India would continue to augment its military capabilities as a deterrent. And it is Pakistan that imagines that all of this buildup is directed against itself. India does not need aircraft carriers, nuclear subs or long range missiles to strike Pakistan, but it needs these as a deterrent against incursions by China. So why is Pakistan so bothered by an "imbalance" with a six-times larger India, when India's buildup is dictated by other needs?

As for "Akhand Bharat", can you not see how absurd it would be for Hindutva ideologues to actively pursue such an objective? At the time of independence, Muslims constituted 25% of undivided India's population. Thanks to the higher fertility rates among Muslim community, if you add up the population of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh now, "Akhand Bharat" would have nearly 35% of its population Muslim. And this proportion is bound to rise even further in the future as Pakistan continues to have higher fertility rate than India, and India's own Muslim community has higher fertility rates than its Hindus. Can you imagine what a nightmare this presents for Hindutva groups who have only had to deal with some 18% Muslim population in their own country? Jinnah did a favour to Hindutva by precipitating the partition of India. Else the dream of "Hindu rashtra" would have been pretty much dead on arrival. And I'm quite sure Hindutva leadership is aware of this.

If there was someone who ardently desired "Akhand Bharat" with conviction, it was the likes of Nehru and Gandhi because they considered pre-partition India to be one indivisible nation and did not believe in the idea that religious differences should determine someone's nationality. And this might perhaps sound ironic, but if there are active supporters and practicioners of Jinnah's TNT in India, it is the Sangh parivar because they consider the country as defined by its "Hindu-ness" and its Muslims as the descendents of foreign invaders or a separate nation deserving a second-class status as accorded to Hindus in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Beyond rhetoric and fanciful notions, the so-called "Akhand Bharat" has as much practical significance as "Ghazwa-e-Hind".

Arun said...

The mindless "Akhand Bharat" folks have no idea how they would integrate so-called Azad Kashmir if it was offered to India.

Riaz Haq said...

Photo Depicts Potential Nuclear Mission for Pakistan’s JF-17 Aircraft

Implications For Pakistan’s Nuclear Forces
Given the lack of publicly available information from the government of Pakistan about its nuclear forces, we must rely on these types of analyses to understand the status of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. From these observations, it is likely that Pakistan has made significant progress toward equipping its JF-17s with the capability to eventually supplement–and possibly replace–the nuclear strike role of the aging Mirage III/Vs. Additionally, it is evident that Pakistan has redesigned the Ra’ad-II ALCM, but little information has been confirmed about the purpose or capabilities associated with this new design. It is also unclear whether either of the Ra’ad systems has been deployed, but this may only be a question of when rather than if. Once deployed, it remains to be seen if Pakistan will also continue to retain a nuclear gravity bomb capability for its aircraft or transition to stand-off cruise missiles only.

This all takes place in the larger backdrop of an ongoing and deepening nuclear arms competition in the region. Pakistan is reportedly pursuing the capability to deliver multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs) with its Ababeel land-based missile, while India is also pursuing MIRV technology for its Agni-P and Agni-5 missiles, and China has deployed MIRVs on a number of its DF-5B ICBMs and DF-41. In addition to the Ra’ad ALCM, Pakistan has also been developing other short-range, lower-yield nuclear-capable systems, such as the NASR (Hatf-9) ballistic missile, that are designed to counter conventional military threats from India below the strategic nuclear level.

These developments, along with heightened tensions in the region, have raised concerns about accelerated arms racing as well as new risks for escalation in a potential conflict between India and Pakistan, especially since India is also increasing the size and improving the capabilities of its nuclear arsenal. This context presents an even greater need for transparency and understanding about the quality and intentions behind states’ nuclear programs to prevent mischaracterization and misunderstanding, as well as to avoid worst-case force buildup reactions.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan’s JF-17 Gets Nuclear Capability? US Report Says PAF Arms 'Thunder' With RAAD Nuke Missile

by Ritu Sharma

Pakistan has consistently maintained ambiguity when it comes to its nuclear weapons program.

The JF-17 fighter jet, jointly developed by China and Pakistan, has long been rumored to have been assigned a nuclear mission. A recently released photograph confirms that the fighter jets manufactured in Pakistan have indeed been armed with tactical nuclear missiles.


India’s Air-Launched Nuclear Deterrence
Fighter bombers were India’s first and only nuclear strike force until 2003 when the country deployed its first nuclear-capable ballistic missile. Despite developing land and sea-based nuclear deterrence, aircraft-delivered nuclear weapons are important to India’s nuclear posture.

It is speculated that three or four squadrons of Mirage 2000H and Jaguar IS/IB aircraft have been assigned nuclear strike missions against Pakistan and China.

The Mirage 2000 H fighter bombers are deployed at Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. Mirage-2000 is a French-made fighter jet. France used its Mirages in a nuclear strike role for three decades until its retirement in 2018. The Indian Mirage 2000 H has undergone upgrades to extend its service life.

The IAF also operates five squadrons of the Jaguar (named Shamsher or Sword of Justice). The Jaguar, jointly designed by France and Britain, was nuclear capable when deployed by these countries. It got a Darin III precision-attack and avionics upgrade in 2016.

Observers of Indian nuclear forces have estimated that aircraft with both conventional and nuclear missions conduct operations from the Nal (Bikaner) Air Force Station and the Ambala and Gorakhpur Air Force bases. Satellites, too, are likely to serve both a civil and military role.

However, these two aircraft are getting old. India’s latest acquisition is the 36 Dassault Rafale aircraft from France. The Rafale is also used in nuclear mission roles in the French Air Force, and there have been speculations that the aircraft might be converted to a nuclear role in India as well.