Islamabad: Pakistan is struggling and so are its citizens. The South Asian nation is like any sinking ship - where people either struggle to remain afloat or abandon it entirely for survival. Amid the economic distress and political uncertainty, Pakistan is grappling with severe challenges like poverty, unemployment and corruption that have compelled many individuals to seek opportunities abroad. Many resorts to unauthorised channels for migration.

"The situation of the youth in Pakistan is absolutely desperate. There are no jobs, there is no future, and there is no safety net for the unemployed youth which are in millions. There is an unemployment benefit scheme, there is nothing." said Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza, a political analyst.

In one of Europe's deadliest shipping disasters in recent years, a refugee boat carrying around 750 people sank off the Peloponnese Peninsula in Greece on June 14. The boat was carrying some 300 Pakistanis along with Egyptians, Syrians and Palestinians. They were all illegal migrants who left their countries in search of greener pastures. A majority of victims in the boat tragedy were Pakistanis, who attempted the illegal passage to Europe due to the prevailing economic crisis, food insecurity, violence and job unavailability in the Islamic nation.

Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza, a political analyst also said that the people who died on the shores of Greece on the 14th of June are no coincidence and it is not one thing, it's going to happen again because people are so desperate in PoK.

Adil Hussain, a Pakistani, who lives in Greece, is now searching for his 43-year-old brother Matloob at a migrants' camp outside of Athens, where survivors of the shipwreck were transferred. Hussain said his brother paid some 7,000 euros from Pakistan to make his way to Italy through Libya. His brother had been in Greece for more than 12 years before that but was living illegally and had to return to Pakistan.

Back home in Pakistan, the family members of the victims are embedded in great shock and grief. In the hilltop town of Khuiratta in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, at least 28 people are either confirmed dead or missing in the Greece boat tragedy. Like many others in Pakistan, the town is known for its residents fleeing to Europe to earn a better living.

Muhammad Ayub, a construction worker, said his brother Yasin had borrowed money to pay USD 7,500 to an agent to reach Europe. Illegal migration is rampant. There is no factory or business here. There is widespread unemployment. Therefore, everyone wants to go towards Punjab to get employment but even there the situation isn't good. So, for that reason, people run abroad for work. They hope they can earn a living there.

Pakistani authorities have arrested over a dozen alleged human traffickers in a widening manhunt after the boat tragedy. While addressing parliament, defence minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif said human traffickers deserved the sternest action.

A lacklustre job landscape in Pakistan, further troubled by the country's perennially unstable political and security situation has compelled youth to pack their bags and flee the country. Disillusioned by the country's political class, they are willingly navigating the illegal path that is fraught with both challenges and dangers. And even if the passage is successful, which it is often not, a large number of Pakistani nationals who reach foreign countries through illegal means are often deported.

As per the News International source, between 2015 and 2020, more than 6,00,000 Pakistani nationals were deported from 138 countries for a range of reasons, including expired work permits and illegal entry using counterfeit travel documents. In recent years, the migration from Pakistan through illegal means is also due to the deteriorating security situation, especially in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh provinces.

Baseer Naveed from Asian Human Rights Commission said that in Pakistan, there were very small manufacturing Industries. Pakistan does not have manufacturing Industries. There was only one steel mill in Karachi, that was called as Pakistani Steel Mill. Now, they have shut down it. And, they are even selling their ports, their lands. Everything in Pakistan is out.

Now, the situation is that only 10 percent of the industries are working in Pakistan, others are closed because the imports have been stopped. And, Pakistan will sell its all natural and national assets to the different countries. This is a very dangerous situation.

After the 2022 Pakistan floods, the World Bank estimated that up to 9 million more people in the country could be dragged into poverty. Over one-fifth of Pakistan's 220 million people are already living below the national poverty line and the rising inflation is adding to their woes. The crippling economic situation in the South Asian nation is expected to force more people to risk their lives for the chance at a better life.