Migration is as old as mankind. People have always travelled and moved in search of greener pastures and greater prosperity. All human beings want to live in peace and security, with a reasonable degree of harmony between the rulers and the ruled. We want freedom of worship, speech and assembly, and we also want the other human right to be observed. Today, these rights include political, social, cultural and economic rights and, obviously, equal rights for women and minorities. People expect the state to provide services in return for taxes. And with easy worldwide media access in recent decades, we are able to compare our situation at home with that elsewhere in the home country and abroad. If the situation at home is unbearable, or not as good as we think it should be, and we can offer workforce and competence elsewhere, we may migrate or emigrate. Whether we actually do it, depends on many factors; those who study migration processes call them push factors and pull factors. One country or one area within a country may be such that persons and groups are pushed to leave, for example, if the living conditions and job opportunities are few and the pay low. If salaries, education and health services are better in other areas, say in the large cities and people have a reasonable amount of information about the other places, they may be pulled to move. And if there is not much prospect for better living conditions within the home country, people may even move to another country, in the region or further away. Obviously, these are not easy decisions, at least not for the person or persons who travel and not for those left behind: Children, old parents and other close family members. Migrants who travel abroad burn many bridges and they know that it may be difficult to join the labour force at home again, or even live in the local community. Many migrants are not emigrants. They are labour migrants, usually young men in their best age. Women, too, migrate, but to a lesser extent than men. Most labour migrants are recruited for jobs, which the host countrys workforce is hesitant to take, and usually the jobs are lowly paid. But for a migrant from a poor country, the pay would still be attractive, for example, for an unemployed Pakistani taking a job in UAE or Saudi Arabia, not to speak of in a European country. The living costs are high in Europe and the money to send home called remittances is often less than one would expect. Most labour migrants try to live as modestly as possible abroad, even those who stay for many years, even decades. Their purpose of working abroad is to earn money to support their family at home, and give their own children a better start in life. Few bring family members to the host country, and most host countries do not even allow it. Let me underline the admiration for foreign workers, their sacrifice in order to support their family at home and the home country. The importance of remittances is substantial for many countries. In Pakistan, the value of remittances in way of foreign currency earnings in the range of US 10 billion annually, is only surpassed by the industrial and other export. But then Pakistan is one of the countries with a very high number of foreign workers and emigrants abroad. Since statistics began being kept in the 1970s, close to five million people have travelled abroad as labour migrants and emigrants. They are Overseas Pakistanis. Overtime, some of them may become citizens in their new lands, however, rarely in the Arab states. In Norway, a small, rich European country with five million people, there are half a million immigrants, and of them, 250,000 come from outside Europe. About 150,000 are Muslims, including about 35,000 Pakistanis, mostly Gujaratis. When they first discovered Norway in the late 1960s, most of them had planned to stay for a while, earn some good money and return home. However, they stayed on, they brought their wives and children, and so on, and the next generation grew into the society through education, friendships and jobs. And now, the old folks do not want to leave because their grandchildren and their real families live in Norway. They visit home, they keep contact with relatives in Gujarat, they send money back, they maintain the house they invested in, and they still send for spouses for the young ones. Yet, they will not go back to live. Some have begun retiring in Norway, and even women, who have never had a job outside the home, get a Norwegian government pension from 67. They feel more and more part of the new land. And, it should be said, too, Pakistani-Norwegians have on the whole behaved very well; resident Norwegians are proud of them and they are also proud of being Norwegians. At the same time, I hope they still remain proud of their Pakistani heritage. Today, on July 21, a seminar entitled Muslim Immigrants in Europe: Focus on Overseas Pakistanis is being held in Islamabad, organised by the Institute of Policy Studies, IPS, and the Pakistan-Norway Association, PANA. I expect that a lot of new data will be provided about how the Overseas Pakistanis fare; how bad or good it is for Pakistan to let their young people go. We will get more accurate figures concerning the number of Pakistanis abroad, the value of the remittances, and the cost and losses for Pakistan of losing people. I also assume that the Overseas Pakistani Foundation, OPF, will provide data concerning the living conditions abroad for the Pakistanis, who work and live there, or have emigrated. I also hope we will learn about the lives of their families, who stay at home and what arrangements there are to help the foreign workers so that they will indeed come back home at one stage. In future, it would be beneficial to the labour migrants and the sending countries in particular, if special institutional agreements can be made to facilitate transfer of knowledge and competence both ways, and indeed back to the sending countries. Let us say that there are 50 labour migrants from Pakistan going to an Arab or European country. They are doctors, nurses, pharmacists, laboratory technicians and maybe also administrators. There could be an agreement made between the Pakistani government and the hospital being their permanent employer and the hospital and country abroad, where they may work, say for a period of five or ten years. This would help ensure that labour migrants, or should we call them expatriates, would indeed return home. It would also help greatly in making use of the experience upon permanent return home, and there should be visits during the time the personnel were abroad. Furthermore, such an agreement could include development aid components to benefit the Pakistani institutions, the personnel and Pakistan as a country. n The writer is a senior Norwegian social scientist based in Islamabad. He has served as United Nations Specialist in the United States, as well as various countries in Africa and Asia. He has also spent a decade dealing with the Afghan refugee crisis and university education in Pakistan. Email: atlehetland@yahoo.com