||The English used in this article or section may not be easy for everybody to understand. (January 2012)|
|Region||Punjab Province (Attock District), Kohat, Peshawar|
|Native speakers||(625,000 cited 1981)|
|Writing system||Nasta'liq script|
|ISO 639-3||hnd (Southern Hindko)|
Hindko (ہندکو pronounced [/Hindkoŭ/], also Hindku, Hinko, or WesternLahnda,) is an ancient Indo-Aryan language, or possibly a dialect of Northern Punjabi, spoken by Hindkowans in Pakistan. The literal meaning of the word "Hindko" is "Mountains of the Indus". The word "Hind" is the Persianised reference to the regions associated with the Indus River immediately to the east of Persia and "Ko" means mountains. The word Hindko has also been interpreted to mean the language of Ancient India. The term is also found in Greek references to the mountainous region in eastern Afghanistan and northern Pakistan as Καύκασος Ινδικός (Caucasus Indicus). The language is spoken in areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (including Hazara), Punjab (including Attock), and Azad Kashmir by an estimated 2.2 to 4 million people.This language is very similar to the Mirpuri dialect of Potohari (or nowdays combined with pothwari-dhanni-poonchi-mirpuri and called Modern Panjistani); and Hindko and Mirpuri speakers can understand each other very well.
There is no proper, formal generic name for these people because they belong to diverse ethnicities and tend to identify themselves by the larger families, castes and tribes. However the people of the largest group in the districts of Haripur, Abbottabad and Mansehra are sometimes recognised collectively as Hazarawal, named after the Hazara Division that comprises these districts. In Peshawar city they are referred to as "Kharay" meaning City-dwellers or Hindkowans.