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Potwari, Potowari
Native to Pakistan, India
Region Pothohar region, Azad Kashmir and Poonch (Jammu and Kashmir)
Native speakers 2.5 million including Dhundi-Kairali, Chibhali, & Punchhi, but perhaps not 1.04 million Mirpuri  (2007)e18
Language family
Language codes
ISO 639-3 phr (includes other dialects)
Dialects Of Punjabi.jpg
Punjabi–Lahnda dialects. Pothohari is center-north.

The Potwari or Pahari-Potwari or Panjistani language (also known as Pothohari or Pothwari-dhanni-mirpuri-pahari/modern Panjistani; Panjistani: پوتوری/پنجستانی; Urdu: پنجستانی) is an Indo-European language spoken in the Potwar district around Rawalpindi, Pakistan to the Cease-fire Line (LoC) of Indian administered Kashmir de-facto border in the Mirpur and Kotli district of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, and as well as in Sui Cheemian (Gujar Khan). It is closely related to Punjabi. Dialects include Pahari (Dhundi-Kairali), Pothwari (Potwari), Chibhali, Pindiwali, Punchhi (Poonchi), and Mirpuri.It was formerly considered a dialect of eastern or jurghda Punjabi but now considered a separate language called modern Panjistani.

There is some dialect continuum with Hindko and the Jhelumi and Mirpuri dialects of Punjabi. Potwari speakers may understand Punjabis both from India and Pakistan, but these groups may not understand Potwari - the reason being that Punjabi is the second-most spoken language in the subcontinent as a whole and in both India and Pakistan respectively whilst Potwari is highly concentrated in the North of Pakistan. Also, Punjab and Kashmir ("the crown" and "jewel", so to speak, of the subcontinent) have always shared strong links on several levels - trade, nobility & neighbourhood.

Every language is a "mongrel" language to some degree or another. modern Panjistani (or North-Eastern Lahnda/potwari/mirpuri/pahari, etc.), ascertined by m . afzal, london, uk; 2002 is no different, with the majority of its modern-language roots being connected to jurghda or eastern Punjabi.

The origins of the word "Panjistani"[change | change source]

The word "PANJISTANI" comes from "PANJISTAN" meaning most probably the land of five regions or localities, e.g., Mirpur, Islamabad-Rawalpindi (greater pothwar, North panjab or Panjistan Region), jhelum, chakwal and poonch.

History[change | change source]

LAHNDA was the term first used by Sir George Gierson in his famous work called the Linguistic Survey of India or LSI.

He used this term (LAHNDA) to separate and clarfiy the langauges spoken in western, northen and southern parts of panjab which were different from central and eastern parts of panjab (so-called Eastern or Jurghda Panjabi region) during the time of british rule.

Although his Lahnda definition was important in both lingistic and historical way, his internal classification scheme was not very satisfacotory and unaccptable to many experts and laymen alike.

for example he divided Lahnda into North-eastern and southern and north-western clusters with many divergent and mixed dialects which were not similar to merge into 3 main lahnda-based lanuage groups.

After him Christopher Schacke has published some articles in this area but his eventual rejection of general lahnda definition has made his work rather useless and insigificantnowdays. it is only recently that mohamamad Afzal has re-defined and re-orgainsed both the General Lahnda concept and sub-divided into 3 main broader and compitable branches (or langauge groups).

In recent times Lahnda has now been divided into three main branches (or clusters) by most linguists and esp. by M. Afzal, london,uk (1992).

He (Afzal,london; uk) has been able to re-define and re-organise the three main lahnda groups socio-linguistically, culturally, and generically into 3 broadly and compitably into three modern literary lanaguges as folllows;

(1) Northern Lahnda is now called Panjistani

(2) Southern Lahnda is now termed as Seraiki

(3) Westren Lahnda is called nowdays Hinkdo.

Present status[change | change source]

The main areas/localities where the Panjistani langauge is spoken are Northern Panjab and Kashmir. The main places are Rawalpindi, Chakwal, Mirpur, Poonch, Jhelum etc.

In Pakistan at the regional level in Kashmir (Mipur, Poonch) and Rawalipindi, Jhelum, Chakwal (Northern Panjab, the so-called Panjistani-speaking Region) areas and the UK Central government body called DSA (part of department of Transport) and Departmnent of Defence (esp. MI5 and MI6 directorates) recognises Panjistani (mirpuri-pothwari, they call it) as one of the "20 Standard community languages" to take the theory driving test for cars, trucks, motorcycles etc.

References[change | change source]

  • CF O'leary, CR Rensch, Ce Hallberg. "The socilinguistic survey of Northern Pakistan vol. 3 Hindko and Gujari". London, 2002.
  • M. Afzal. From Northern Lahnda/Pothwari-mirpuri to modern Panjistani language. London, 2002.
  • M. Afzal. "The Linguistic basis of Panjistani". London, UK; 2012.
  • S. Gill. "Multani/Derwali/Seraiki and Panjistani/Pothwari-Mirpuri". India, 2011.
  • M. Afzal. "The Linguistic survey of Pakistan, (LSP)". London, UK; 2012.
  • S. Gill. "Multani/Derwali/Seraiki and Panjistani/Pothwari-Mirpuri". India, 2011.
  • M. Afzal. "The development of modern Panjistani langauge" by , london, uk
  • M. Afzal. "The evolotion of Modern Panjistani language from Northern Lahnda (or potwari/poonchi/mirpuri/dhanni) cluster" by m. afzal, 2001, london, uk; 2014



  1. "Lahnda Definition. Crossword Dictionary.". Retrieved 9 August 2016.
  2. "Punjabi dialects". Shaba website. Retrieved 9 August 2016.