Dearest expatriate, I understand that when you read and hear about the problems in your country, you are considerably grieved and often think about doing something to change things. Still, apart from the annual donation to a charitable organization, you seldom itch to do anything and mostly, you do nothing at all.

Indeed, Pakistan is too corrupt and disorganized and frustrating for your liking but gather the efforts you make at your job abroad, bring them here and watch wonders unfold. It’s obvious you don’t realize that, otherwise you would be back already.

Pakistan received nearly fourteen billion dollars in remittances alone this past year. It is without surprise then that some of our best minds live and earn beyond our national borders; they are convinced they can’t do any better in Pakistan and that is where they, and you, are wrong.

Beneath the facade of a state mired in conflict, Pakistan is a country of 180 million individuals. That means an equal number of mouths to feed, people to clothe, educate, provide healthcare to and so on. Since most of the many basic needs are still unmet, with a little bit of foresight and planning, and of course the necessary courage to start a business, one can not only help bridge the gap but make a fortune doing it. True, the success stories are few, but they are inspiring and worth mentioning.

In the education sector, Beaconhouse School system started operations as a Montessori in 1975 with 19 toddlers. Today it is educating 247,000 students across 9 countries – arguably the largest school network of its kind in the world today. In real estate, we have examples like Malik Riaz; although a controversial figure, his project, Bahria Town, is an undeniable success. In healthcare, Imran Khan managed to create a state-of-the-art facility for cancer patients in Lahore without a single rupee of his own and is now working towards a similar project in Peshawar.

This is only a glimpse of the success enjoyed by some entrepreneurs/philanthropists in Pakistan. Considering how underdeveloped we are as a nation, the potential for success still far exceeds the collective achievement of our people and this holds true even for relatively mature industries like agriculture. Let me illustrate this with an example in dairy farming.

Pakistan produces 35 billion liters of milk every year. That makes us the fourth largest producer of milk in the world. Experts argue that adopting simple best practices in dairy farming can triple our milk production. If we invest in new technologies however, we can increase production by a staggering 900 percent! With 5 million milk-producing animals, we are sitting, yawning away on a virtual gold mine.

Similarly, there are numerous opportunities in the retail, construction, automotive, tourism, financial services, energy, health and mining industries but any hope of manufacturing interest in these areas is often squashed with the fear of insecurity – a theme that sensational journalism thrives on, discouraging potential entrepreneurs from plunging into the world of business.

Consequently, young talent hardly ever dreams about establishing itself in Pakistan. Instead, they channel all their energies on leaving, their telescopes fixed on lucrative careers abroad. Everything is pointing outbound.

Today, we have more study abroad education consultants than teachers, more immigration lawyers than career counselors, more English learning centers than vocational schools and finally, more visa applications than undergraduate degrees. We are a nation geared to abandon ship and in great part this is happening because we are unable to retain or engage fleeing talent.

In recent times, foreign investments in the shape of eateries like Mc Donald’s, KFC and Savour Foods have successfully captured the imagination (and the growing appetite) of our middle-income masses. In its wake, a trail of foreign cafe and fast food brands have cropped up to fight for a bigger piece of a bloated pie. So even if we’re lacking a unique proposition or a new line of business, there are enough consumers in Pakistan for us to replicate a business model with marginal differentiation and still find success!

While foreign eateries spread across Pakistan, there has also been a steady increase in business for FMCGs and oil companies. But everything pales in comparison to the hyper-growth of the telecommunication industry. In the last decade, the number of cell phone users in Pakistan has increased from 5 million to 136 million. No other sector has ever witnessed such an immense growth in its consumer base before. Another testament to Pakistan’s remarkable potential.

For this reason, and others, bigger players like the U.S. and China continue to call us their bosom buddies, their allies, or any other term of endearment that will woo us into an offering of our natural resources. It is shameful then that even though we have the unique prowess to detonate nuclear bombs, we lack the technology to drill holes into our own coal reserves.

Until our best minds seriously consider the opportunities in Pakistan and take certain risks to make a living here, massive business conglomerates will continue to share resources in Pakistan that are otherwise solely ours to benefit from.

The writer is a communications consultant based in Lahore.

Email:Khizr.imran@gmail.com