Ethnic groups of Pakistan

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Major ethnic groups in Pakistan, 1973

About 98% of languages spoken in Pakistan are Indo-Iranian (sub-branches: 75% Indo-Aryan and 20% pure Iranian), a branch of Indo-European family of languages. Most languages of Pakistan are written in the Perso-Arabic script, with significant vocabulary derived from Arabic and Persian. Punjabi (Shahmukhi), Seraiki, Sindhi, Pashto, Urdu, Balochi, Kashmiri (Koshur), etc. are the general languages spoken within Pakistan. The majority of Pakistanis belong to various Indo-Aryan-speaking ethnic groups, while a large minority are various Iranic peoples and Dardic language groups. In addition, small groups language isolates such as Burusho and Brahui-speaking peoples also live in the country. The major ethnic groups of Pakistan in numerical size include: Punjabis, Pashtuns, Sindhis, Seraikis, Muhajirs, Balochis, Chitralis and other smaller groups.

The population comprises several main ethnic groups (2009):[1]

  1. Punjabis (42.15%) 70.7 million
  2. Pashtuns (17.42%) 35.2 million
  3. Sindhis (14.1%) 24.8 million
  4. Seraikis (10.53%) 14.8 million
  5. Muhajirs (7.57%) 13.3 million
  6. Balochs is (3.57%) 6.3 million
  7. Others (4.66%) 11.1 million

Smaller ethnic groups, such as Kashmiris, Kalash, Burusho, Brahui, Khowar, Shina, and Turwalis are mainly found in the northern parts of the country. The people of the Potohar Plateau in Northern Punjab, (Potoharis) are sometimes listed separately from Punjabis. This would tend to decrease the Punjabs population further.

Hindkowan[change | change source]

Hindkowans is a general term applied to the inhabitants of the Hazara Division of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. The area falls in between the 'proper' Pashtun districts of the province, the Northern Punjab and Kashmir. Thus, it is a 'transitional' area where the Hindko dialect, or language, is mostly spoken, with a little Pashto and other languages. It must be noted that as such, there are no people or races of this name, but it is a purely linguistic definition or term. The people inhabiting the 'Hindko-speaking belt' are in fact from a number of ethnic origins—Pathan settlers such as the Yusufzai, Tanoli, Tarin, Jadoon, Kakkar, Utmanzai and others, as well as representatives of various Punjabi and Kashmiri tribes, as well as several indigenous hill and aboriginal tribes such as the Awan, Mughal, Turk, Karlal, Dhund Abbasi, Gujar, Swatis and so on.

Whilst the term is generally applied to the inhabitants of Hazara (especially Abbottabad, Haripur and Mansehra districts)it is also applied, by extension to sizable pockets of Hindko-speaking populations of Peshawar city, Kohat and Dera Ismail Khan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and in Dera Ghazi Khan and Mianwali in Punjab.

Hazara[change | change source]

The Hazara ethnicity (not to be confused with the inhabitants of the Hazara region) are a Persian language-speaking people. The local or Pakistani Hazara are residing in Quetta, Balochistan, and a small number from Afghanistan as refugees in the Islamabad area and a very few in Peshawar city too in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. They are closely related to the Eurasian people and the Uyghur people. The total estimated population of Pakistani Hazaras is believed to be more than 200,000. Afghan refugee Hazaras are not more than between 10,000 to 12,000.

Makrani[change | change source]

The Makranis are the inhabitants of Makran coast of Balochistan in Iran and Pakistan. They are the Negroid people of Pakistan. They are the descendants of slaves first brought to Pakistan by Arab merchants in medieval times from the Bantu-speaking parts of eastern Africa.

Tajik[change | change source]

The Tajiks are a Persian-speaking people, with traditional homelands in present-day Afghanistan, Tajikistan, southern Uzbekistan, northern Pakistan and western China. The Pakistani Tajiks live amongst other majority Central Asian-origin peoples such as the Dardic and Chitralis, the Hunzukuts, Shina, Baltis etc., and proper Tajiks are estimated to be no more than between 100,000 to 125,000[source?].

Balti[change | change source]

The Baltis are an ethnic group of Tibetan descent with some Dardic admixture in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan and Ladakh. In Pakistan they mainly live in major urban centres of Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad/Rawalpindi. The Balti language belongs to the Tibetan language family and is a sub-dialect of Ladakhi.

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