If World Bank website is to be believed, India receives as much as close to $5 billion remittance from arch rival Pakistan every year. While India must be hoping that it becomes reality in the immediate future, alas, this is not the case.
Pakistani social media users and general public were aghast to learn it from a reliable source like World Bank that follows data about economic activities between two nations and remittances from one nation to the other.
Had the figure been true, Pakistan would have been on the fourth number in the list of highest remittance to India after Saudi Arabia. Remittances from Saudi Arabia stood at $7.6 billion last year.
The highest remittance to India comes from United Arab Emirates. The remittance from UAE last year stood at $14.25 billion followed by United States at $10.84 billion, Canada $3.14 billion and Qatar $2 billion.
The issue became a topic of raging debate in Pakistan where common people were shocked over such huge numbers. Later leading Pakistani daily Dawn clarified in its editorial.
“EVER so often an absurd piece of information tends to go viral and sparks theory construction on an epic scale. Most recently there is the example of a report, hosted on the World Bank website, which uses a model based on the stock of migrants in each country and their income levels to try and generate a guess about how much they would send back in remittances to their country of origin. The model mistakenly included all migrants from India who settled in Pakistan after Independence in its calculation and came up with the figure of $4.9bn as an estimate of the remittances they would be sending back to India. Since the report was hosted on the World Bank website, people took the number seriously. One television anchor even floated a conspiracy theory around this figure, fuelling all manner of lurid speculation about the reality behind this number. The research presenting this data was released in December 2015, and has lived on in the media, rumour mills and social media space ever since, periodically popping up couched in astonishing claims” said Dawn editorial.
It went on to add, “Unfortunately for those who were partaking of this spectacle, the only reality behind this number is that it does not exist. It is a flawed guess because those who migrated from India and became Pakistani citizens after 1947 do not send back remittances. This absurd saga reached such proportions that the State Bank has just had to issue a formal denial of the figure and present the real remittance flows that go from Pakistan to India. Last year, this figure was $116,000. The speed with which such ungrounded information can spread says something about the willingness, or desire, of people to believe it. For years, another absurd number circulated suggesting that $200bn of Pakistani money was parked in Swiss Bank accounts, when the real figure was actually one-hundredth of that. These sorts of myths get sucked up very fast in our political culture which is saturated with disinformation and conspiracy theories as it is. Even when the absurdity of the figure is revealed, many people continue to argue in favour of its veracity because they have internalised it deeply and built large castles in their minds with its imagined implications. It is important that such disinformation not be allowed to circulate for very long, because its effects can go beyond humour and become pernicious the longer they survive unchallenged”.