Return Migration to Pakistan during COVID19 Pandemic: Unmaking the Challenges

  • Mahwish Zeeshan


In order to contain the spread of corona virus (COVID-19) disease, strict border closure measures have been taken globally. Migrants and refugees are affected across the globe due to such measures. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic recession escalated across the globe which is expected to have serious implications for the migrant workers and laborers. Potohar region was selected to explore implications of return migration from abroad, but the fieldwork halted immediately due to the pandemic outbreak. Since the data on Pakistani migrants is dispersed and scant, it was nearly impossible to stick to the locale for returnees. Therefore, the data for this study was collected qualitatively using exploratory methodology. In-depth interviews were conducted using interview guide as a tool of research. The paper is based on analysis of the narratives based on the experiences of the returnees especially. It sheds light on the state of the stranded Pakistani migrants who have been returning or awaiting repatriation due to layoffs. It delves into long-run and short-run challenges due to return migration, in Pakistan which highly depends on remittances from abroad. Challenges created by sudden end to remittances, entrepreneurial setups and returnees’ reintegration in the society need immediate attention. It is recommended that the state should support and monitor the migrants living abroad, ease out issues in repatriation of the laid off workers, pave way for investment, offer insurance plans, reduce reliance on remittance flow and engage them in Public Private Partnerships for sustainable reintegration.