The online workshop 'Migrating from Pakistan today: Interrogating the regular/irregular divide' brought together close to twenty researchers and practitioners working in the field of migration from and in Pakistan, centre-staging knowledge-production with local and origin context grounding.

The workshop aimed at fostering networking and knowledge-exchange between graduate students, established resarchers and practitioners - in the field of migration from Pakistan today. Whereas most Pakistani migration is regular, and directed toward the Gulf States, but also as labour, family and student migration elsewhere, migrants from Pakistan also arrive in Europe without a regularized status, or become irregularized over time.

The interest in the question of regular/irregular status here, departs from a recognition that over time, a migrant may encounter irregular entry – regularization, or regular entry – then irregular stay, or potentially regularization and/or deportation, and also new migration again. Thus the regular/irregular divide is best approached empirically, and with sensitivity to change over time and across circumstances. The four presentations illustrated the complexity and at times dynamism of the regular/irregular divide well, and pointed to a number of dimensions for ongoing and future research to consider:

  • Tauqeer Hussain Shah – 'I Can't Carry a Basket here in Pakistan': The Status Paradox of Migration in Context of Irregular Migrants from Pakistan to Europe.
  • Zain ul Abdin – Understanding the multi-stage mobility of Pakistani Students to, within, and from Finland and Sweden.
  • Mariam Hamid – Irregular migration: The only way out? Understanding the reasons why Pakistanis migrate irregularly to Belgium.
  • Marta Bivand Erdal & Furrukh Khan – Understanding the 'denkey' (journey): Migration narratives in the heartland of Punjab (drawing on research from the MIGNEX project,

The presentations, and discussion with knowledgable interlocutours, themselves resarchers and practitioners, shed important light on questions of categories and categorization in migration research - as this emerges drawing on empirical examples from the Pakistani context. Attentiveness to local and emic understanding of migration aspirations, hopes and plans was underscored, including how this may relate to subjective, gendered, and age-sensitive experiences of biraderi, caste, education and future prospects overall.

The event was co-organized by Marta Bivand Erdal (Peace Research Institute Oslo) & Furrukh Khan (Lahore University of Management Sciences) and included colleagues from PRIO, the Lahore School of Economics, Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad, Ludwig-Maximillians-University in Germany, practitioners working with the Migrant Resource Centre in Lahore, as well as other students and researchers.

A recording of the workshop will be made available on request, please contact if interested in access to the recording, or for further information.