** Pakistan ethnicity ethnic groups

Pakistani Ethnic Groups

Figure 1.--Here we see men and boys from the Hunza Valley in northern Pakistan. The Hunza is a mountainous valley in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of northern Pakistan. The Hunza is situated in the extreme northern part of Pakistan, bordering the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan and the Xinjiang region of China. The largest citybis Baltit. The press caption here read, "Men of Baltit: These two men are leaving a religious gathering in Baltit, capital of the remote, semi autonomous state of Hunza. Men hre are tall and fair skinned and it is not uncommon for them to father children in their 80s and then live to se thechildren grow up." The photograph was dated December 14, 1960. Notice that some of the boys have Chinese features.

Pakistan is the world’s sixth most populous country, but a minor country in terms of area. The population has surpassed the 200 million person mark. The land area, however, is only 0.8 million km2, making it merely the 36th largest in the world. This makes Pakistan one of the most debsely populated countries in the world. This is especially the case as large areas of the country are extremeky arid or rugged mountains, making thepopultion more dnse in the more favorably endowed areas. Pakistan is only relatively small sliver of the Indian subcontinnt, but is the cradle of several ancient cultures, the most important being the Indus Valley people. Pakistan's geographic location neans that is mny diffrent people settled in or passed through b its territory. It was a connectuon point foe the Middle East, Asia, bd the Sub-continent. The gamed Lyber Pass through the mointains is located in Pakistan. This explains a diversity of language and ethnicity. Pakistan has been ruled by several dynasties and empires including Mauryan, Achaemenid, Mongol, Mughal, and Delhi Sultanate. There are over 60 languages spoken in the country. Urdu is the official national language, and a symbol of national unity understood by 80 percent of the population. There are six major ethnic groups and several other small minorities which in part reflect the regional structure of the country. The Punjabi people are the largest ethnic group, constituting nearly 45 percent of the population


The Muhajirs (Mahajirs/Mohajirs) are descendents of the Muslims living in areas to the south that with independence and partition became part of India. They are of multi-ethnic origin. There destinguishing characterbistic was not wanting to live in Hindu-majority India. Many of them speak different languages at the native level, they are now primarily identified as native Urdu speakers. Most settled in urban areas of Sindh where Karachi is located--the southern-most area pf Pakistan. Karachi is Pakistan's largest city and the capital of Sindh. It is also Pakistan's largest port and commercial center. Some 25,000 Muhajirs have been executed in extra-judicial killings since 1992 by ind authorities who according to the Muhajirs have vome to power throuhh riggedelections. [Nusrat] From the beginning, the Muhajir were viewed differently by the local population even though they were important in the creation of Pakistan. They now complain that thy are being frozen out of government contracts and jobs. There have also been attacks. The problem is further complicatd by the fact that some Muhajirs are Shi'ia Muslims,a nother group often suject to dicrimation and physical attacks in Suni majority Pakistan


Punjabi people are the largest ethnic group in Pakistan and a majority in the Punjab of Pakistan and the northern areas of India. The Pakistani Punjbi are Muslim, the Indian Punjabi are predominately Hindu. The Punjab is the central Pakistani region and the most densly populated area of Pakistan. The Punjabi account for nearly 45 percent of the Pakistani population. The Punjabi belong to the Indo-Aryan ethnic group. Punjabi identity has its own traditionally cultural, linguistic, and geographic identity. It is independent of religion and origin. The Pakistani Punjbi are Muslim, the Indian Punjabi are predominately Hindu. The religious divide and partition of British India has impeded the rise of Punjabi nationlism. The Punjabi settlement of the Indus Valley led to the early civilization (5th and 4th millennium BC). We see small chiefdoms and tribes which developed into local kings. While most Punjabi people are split between Muslims and Hindus, Sikhism and Christianity are also practiced. The Punjabi culture is that of the Punjab region, one of the oldest cultures in the world. The culture complexincludes poetry, spirituality, weaponry, music, cuisine, language, history, and values.


Pashtun is an ethnic group split between Afghanistan and Pakistan. They constitute about 15 percent of of the Pakistani population. They are important in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (former Northwest Frontier Provice), especially the Tribal Areas. Their is a warriort tradition among the Pashtun people. Pashtun etnicity is not clearly defined. There is some disagreement as to who is a Pashtun. They are most commonly seen as an Eastern Iranian people who speak Pashto as their first language. Mny seem to believe that a Pashtun must be a Muslim and adhere to Pashtunwali code. This means that only those with Pashtun fathers are true Pashtuns. The Pashtunwali code defines the culture of the Pashtun and creates a self-governing tribal system that governs all aspects of the group. One tradition is treat guests with dignity and respect.


Sindhi dominate the Sindh Province of southeastern Pakistan. This ethnic group forms nearly 15 percent of Pakistan’s population. The Sindh Province was one of the first places in the Subcontinentn to be influenced by Islam because of its location. Muslims thus greatly influenced and ventually ruled the Hindus who initially resided in the region. After the partition of British India (1947), most of the Sindhis fled to India living a few of the group in Pakistan. The Sindhis left in Pkisran are mainly Muslims. Sindhis’ culture is this heavily influenced by Islam especially the traditional first names.


The Saraiki are a subgroup of Punjabi people in Pakistan and speaks the Saraiki dialect of Punjabi. They constitute less than 10 percent of the population. The majority of Saraiki are commonly counted counted among the Punjabi. The Saraiki people in Pakistan are primarily muslim, but there is is a Christian minority. The culture of the Saraikis has been greatly influenced by the Punjabis because of their close association.

Smaller Ethnic Gouos

There are several minor ethnic groups in Pakistan. They include the Muhajir who are largely of Arabic origin. They are about 8 percent of the popultion. The Balochistani found in the southwestern part of Pakistan, Baluchistan. They are an important etnic group in eastern Iran and constutute about 4 percent of the Pakistani population.


Nusrat, Nadeem. "PM Khan: Investigate and bring to justice the murderers of Mohahjirs, " The Washington Times (July 23, 2019).

Sim, Watson. "Baltit", an AP story on Hunza December 1960).


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Created: 1:34 AM 3/21/2018
Last updates: 12:55 AM 8/26/2019