Over the next month thousands of young Pakistanis will begin to filter into universities across North America, Western Europe, and Asia. Many will do everything in their power never to return home but if Pakistan is willing to adapt then it can receive the full benefit from its growing diaspora. In Dubai, Pakistanis, who now outnumber Emiratis, find a gateway to the West through intra-company transfers or by saving money for education. The privileged of Pakistan, especially nearby Karachi, sometimes take the two-hour flight to Dubai just to attend a concert, making the city feel like a distant suburb of Sindh’s financial hub. In the West some neighbourhoods have become synonymous with South Asian culture. Think Toronto’s Girard Street or Chicago’s Devon Avenue. Jackson Heights, a neighbourhood in Queens, New York, even became the name of an Urdu-language serial. Posh Manhattan nightclubs host Bhangra-themed evenings that cater to Punjabis from both sides of the border. Grocery stores with dhaba-esque dining areas encircle universities and provide students with an alternative to white-linen Indian fusion restaurants that tone down the heat and jack up the prices. And, non-resident Indians and Pakistanis co-host professional networking groups. But the impact of intolerance and terrorism on emigration is also apparent. Every year families from the English-speaking Catholic community of Karachi’s Garden East neighborhood gather for a Toronto picnic in numbers that rival those back home. If you drive past the Imam Khoei Foundation, a Shia mosque in Queens, you’re sure to see groups of Pakistani men in shalwarkameezes gathered after namaz. And, in Philadelphia the Ahmadiyya community recently completed construction of a brand new mosque to serve its growing needs. Still, most leave for economic opportunities. According to the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development only 51.3% of the working age population are employed and for women it is only 23%. Approximately one-third of youth are neither employed nor in school. Even for those with access to good jobs there is a strong incentive to leave. An unofficial network of Pakistani medical residents in the US is ready to host the next batch of graduates as they look to match with US hospitals. After receiving a faster and cheaper education in Pakistan they can make far more money abroad. This route is especially appealing to the 70% of Pakistan’s medical students who are women but make-up only about a fourth of registered doctors. Also among the diaspora are a plethora of artists, writers, and academics who express that their passions are more appreciated abroad. Upward social mobility is also a factor. I recall meeting a successful businessman who purchased a house in the US as an investment but with no intention of relocating. Back home he enjoys a driver, cook, and nanny all at a steep discount. It is Pakistan’s inequality that makes life so good for the wealthy but drives one in five Pakistanis to desire permanent relocation according to a Gallup.com poll. In the short-term, Islamabad should look beyond big corporations and create incentives for entrepreneurs in the form of small business loans and grants. Pakistanis returning from abroad are forging new ventures such as cross-fit training and tech firms but millennials often work from home to avoid taxes or because they lack capital. Growth is then limited to the informal economy. Foreigners can step-in as partners with startup capital or form businesses themselves but they are subjected to absurd red tape from company registration offices and slow clearances from the Ministry of Interior. Despite a security situation that has led multinational board meetings to often be held in Dubai, Pakistan has a less saturated market that should be low-cost to enter, making it ideal for small businesses and startups. Thus Pakistan cannot afford to continue making business difficult. In the short-term, Islamabad should look beyond big corporations and create incentives for entrepreneurs. Pakistanis returning from abroad are forging new ventures such as cross-fit training and tech firms but millennials often work from home to avoid taxes or because they lack capital Tourism could also jumpstart the economy. The old excuse that Pakistan is too dangerous or not of interest for Westerners is moot when tourists are flocking to visit Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Indian-administered Kashmir, and Iran. Pakistan must follow other regional countries and issue online or airport visas. Exploring the beauty of Pakistan should not be dependent on an invitation letter nor does this antiquated process protect national security. Lastly, Islamabad must do more to engage with the diaspora and mobilize young people. Non-resident Indians and Indian Americans have been pivotal in improving Washington’s relations with New Delhi. More than just sending remittances, Pakistanis abroad can serve as a tool in helping the world engage diplomatically and economically with Pakistan. The writer is a veteran of the US Marine Corps and served in Afghanistan. He works as a policy analyst and focuses on South Asia and Iran. He tweets at @AdamNoahWho Published in Daily Times, August 31st 2017.