Demographics of Pakistan

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Demographics of Pakistan
Population of Pakistan, 1961–2003
Population 191,715,847 (2015 est.)[1][2]
Growth rate 1.49%[3]
Birth rate 31 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death rate 8 deaths/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Life expectancy 63.39 years (2009 est.)
 • male 62.4 years (2009 est.)
 • female 64.44 years (2009 est.)
Fertility rate 3.58 children born/woman (2008 est)
Infant mortality rate 57.48 deaths/1,000 live births (2012 est.)[4]
Age structure
0–14 years 36.7% (male 33,037,943/female 31,092,572)
15–64 years 59.1% (male 53,658,173/female 49,500,786)
65 and over 4.2% (male 3,495,350/female 3,793,734) (2009 est.)
Sex ratio
At birth 1.00 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
Under 15 1.06 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
15–64 years 1.05 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
65 and over 0.82 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
Nationality noun: Pakistani
Major ethnic See Ethnic groups of Pakistan
Official See Languages of Pakistan
Spoken See List of Pakistani languages by number of native speakers

Pakistan's estimated population in 2015 is over 191.71 million,[1][2][5][6][7] making it the world's sixth-most-populous country, behind Brazil and ahead of Nigeria. During 1950–2011, Pakistan's urban population expanded over sevenfold, while the total population increased by over fourfold. In the past, the country's population had a relatively high growth rate that has been changed by moderate birth rates. In 2014, the population growth rate stands at 1.49%.[3]

Dramatic social changes have led to rapid urbanization and the emergence of megacities. During 1990–2003, Pakistan sustained its historical lead as the second-most urbanized nation in South Asia with city dwellers making up 36% of its population.[8] Furthermore, 50% of Pakistanis now reside in towns of 5,000 people or more.[9]

Pakistan has a multicultural and multi-ethnic society and hosts one of the largest refugee populations in the world as well as a young population.

The Demographic history of Pakistan from the ancient Indus Valley Civilization to modern era includes the arrival and settlement of many cultures and ethnic groups in modern region of Pakistan from Central Asia, Middle East and Europe.


Geographic distribution

File:Pakistan population density.png
Population density in Pakistan

The majority of southern Pakistan's population lives along the Indus River. Karachi is the most populous city in Pakistan. In the northern half, most of the population lives about an arc formed by the cities of Faisalabad, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Sargodha, Islamabad, Multan, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Nowshera, Swabi, Mardan, and Peshawar.

Population size and growth

  • Population: 188,646,439 (December 2014, Pakistan Population Clock)[10] or 196,174,380 (July 2014, CIA World Factbook)[11]
  • Growth rate: 1.49% (2014 est.)

According to OECD/World Bank, the population in Pakistan increased by 23 million from 1990 to 2008, with a 54% growth in population compared to 34% growth in India and 38% growth in Bangladesh.[12]

Yearly population increase

Pakistan's yearly population from 1950 to 2014, with estimation since last census (1998).[13]

UN estimates[14]

Total population (in thousands) Population aged 0–14 (%) Population aged 15–64 (%) Population aged 65+ (%)
1950 37,547 40.3 54.1 5.6
1955 41,109 40.3 54.8 4.9
1960 45,920 40.4 55.3 4.3
1965 51,993 41.6 54.5 3.9
1970 59,383 42.6 53.6 3.8
1975 68,483 43.2 53.1 3.7
1980 80,493 43.4 52.9 3.7
1985 95,470 43.4 52.9 3.8
1990 111,845 43.7 52.5 3.8
1995 127,347 43.3 52.9 3.8
2000 144,522 41.4 54.7 3.9
2005 158,645 38.1 57.8 4.1
2011 173,593 35.4 60.3 4.3

Structure of population

The following statistics[15] are for 1 July 2007. They excluding data for the Pakistan-held part of Jammu and Kashmir, the final status of which has not yet been determined. They are based on the results of the Pakistan Demographic Survey (PDS 2007).

The structure of the population by five-year age groups and gender is:

Age Group Male Female Total %
Total 76 857 737 73 002 651 149 860 388 100
0-4 9 783 859 9 756 608 19 540 467 13,04
5-9 11 710 324 10 844 307 22 554 631 15,05
10-14 10 636 015 9 619 874 20 255 889 13,52
15-19 9 063 876 8 211 804 17 275 679 11,53
20-24 6 824 723 6 733 861 13 558 584 9,05
25-29 5 268 436 5 564 656 10 833 092 7,23
30-34 3 957 414 4 474 911 8 432 325 5,63
35-39 4 132 910 4 219 507 8 352 417 5,57
40-44 3 496 263 3 281 389 6 777 652 4,52
45-49 3 277 150 2 999 342 6 276 492 4,19
50-54 2 429 295 2 156 822 4 586 117 3,06
55-59 1 864 568 1 679 608 3 544 175 2,36
60-64 1 637 251 1 296 418 2 933 669 1,96
65-69 1 106 476 932 030 2 038 506 1,36
70-74 857 310 606 846 1 464 156 0,98
75-79 358 255 295 833 654 088 0,44
80-84 250 734 177 547 428 280 0,29
85+ 202 880 151 288 354 168 0,24

The structure of the population by coarse age groups and gender is:

Age group Male Female Total Percent
0-14 32 130 198 30 220 789 62 350 987 41,61
15-64 41 951 884 40 618 318 82 570 202 55,10
65+ 2 775 655 2 163 544 4 939 199 3,30

Gender ratios

  • Sex ratio at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
  • under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
  • 15–64 years: 1.09 male(s)/female
  • 65 years and over: 0.92 male(s)/female
  • total population: 1.07 male(s)/female (2011 est.)

Vital statistics[14]

Year Live births per year Deaths per year Natural change per year CBR1 CDR1 NC1 TFR1 IMR1
1950–1955 1 652 000 937 000 715 000 42.0 23.8 18.2 6.60 176.6
1955–1960 1 873 000 907 000 966 000 43.0 20.9 22.1 6.60 156.3
1960–1965 2 128 000 894 000 1 233 000 43.5 18.3 25.2 6.60 139.5
1965–1970 2 407 000 887 000 1 520 000 43.2 15.9 27.3 6.60 125.7
1970–1975 2 738 000 890 000 1 848 000 42.8 13.9 28.9 6.60 114.8
1975–1980 3 197 000 935 000 2 262 000 42.9 12.6 30.3 6.60 106.6
1980–1985 3 746 000 1 019 000 2 726 000 42.6 11.6 31.0 6.44 101.5
1985–1990 4 367 000 1 120 000 3 247 000 42.1 10.8 31.3 6.30 96.7
1990–1995 4 566 000 1 166 000 3 400 000 38.2 9.7 28.5 5.67 90.1
1995–2000 4 674 000 1 201 000 3 473 000 34.4 8.8 25.6 5.00 83.2
2000–2005 4 387 000 1 213 000 3 175 000 28.9 8.0 20.9 4.00 76.8
2005–2010 4 666 000 1 277 000 3 390 000 28.1 7.7 20.4 3.65 70.9
1 CBR = crude birth rate (per 1000); CDR = crude death rate (per 1000); NC = natural change (per 1000); TFR = total fertility rate (number of children per woman); IMR = infant mortality rate per 1000 births

Vital statistics[16]

Year (beginning.). Population (in thousands) Live births (in thousands) Deaths (in thousands) Natural change (in thousands) Crude birth rate (per 1.000) Crude death rate (per 1.000) Natural change (per 1.000) Fertility rates
2011 177 100 4 870 1 293 3 577 27,5 7,3 20,2 3,5
2012 180 710 4 915 1 301 3 614 27,2 7,2 20,0 3,4
2013 184 350 4 941 1 291 3 650 26,8 7,0 19,8 3,3
2014 188 020 4 964 1 297 3 667 26,4 6,9 19,5 3,2
2015 191 710 5 003 1 303 3 700 26,1 6,8 19,3 3,2

Fertility Rate (The Demographic Health Survey)[17]

Fertility Rate (TFR) (Wanted Fertility Rate) and CBR (Crude Birth Rate):

Year CBR (Total) TFR (Total) CBR (Urban) TFR (Urban) CBR (Rural) TFR (Rural)
1990-1991 5,4 (4,7) 4,9 (3,8) 5,6 (5,1)
2006-2007 30,7 4,1 (3,1) 27,6 3,3 (2,5) 32,3 4,5 (3,4)
2012-2013 3,8 (2,9) 3,2 (2,4) 4,2 (3,1)

Fertility by region 2010-2012 (released in 2012-13)[18]

Region Fertility rate
Urban 3.2
Rural 4.2
Overall 3.8
ICT Islamabad 3.0
Punjab 3.8
Gilgit-Baltistan 3.8
Sindh 3.9
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 3.9
Balochistan 4.2

Contraceptives usage (%) 2010–2012 (released in 2012–13)[18]

Region Contraceptives usage (%)
Urban 44.8%
Rural 30.7%
Overall 35.4%
ICT Islamabad 59.4%
Punjab 40.7%
Gilgit-Baltistan 33.6%
Sindh 29.5%
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 28.1%
Balochistan 19.5%

Mortality and life expectancy

  • Maternal mortality ratio: 320 (2009 est.)[19]
  • Life expectancy at birth:
    • total population: 65.5 years (2007 est.)[20]
    • male: 66.5 years (2009 est.)[19]
    • female: 67.2 years (2009 est.)[19]

As adultery is a crime punishable by death in Pakistan, just in the main cities 1,210 infants were killed or abandoned to die (2010), 90% of them girls and most less than a week old according to conservative estimates by the Edhi Foundation, a charity working to reverse this increasing trend.[21]

Human development

Human Development Index

According to the 2009 Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 60.3% of Pakistanis live on less than $2 a day.[22]

Province Human Development Index Comparable country
Medium human development
Punjab 0.670  Tajikistan
Sindh 0.628  India
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 0.607  Solomon Islands
Balochistan 0.556  Ghana

Sources: Information on Pakistani regions:[6] Information on other countries:[23] All Estimated at three decimal places.

Region Human Development Index Comparable country
Medium human development
Urban Sindh 0.659  Equatorial Guinea/ South Africa
Urban Punjab 0.657  Equatorial Guinea/ South Africa
Urban Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 0.627  India
Urban Balochistan 0.591  Solomon Islands
Rural Punjab 0.517  Sudan
Low human development
Rural Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 0.489  Zimbabwe/ Kenya
Rural Balochistan 0.486  Mauritania
Rural Sindh 0.456  Eritrea
Region Human Development Index Comparable country
Medium human development
Urban Pakistan 0.656  Equatorial Guinea/ South Africa
Low human development
Rural Pakistan 0.496  Togo

Note: Regarding the above two tables, information on Pakistan has been taken from the PAKISTAN NATIONAL HUMAN DEVELOPMENT REPORT 2003 and for the countries of the world, information has been take from the Human Development Report 2006 as it best reflects the time when data was taken for Pakistan. Pakistan National Human Development Report gave Pakistan an HDI score of 0.541 whereas the Human Development Report 2006 gave it a score of 0.539.



definition: aged 10 and over and can read and write as of 2008-09

  • Total population: 60%
  • Male: 69%
  • Female: 45%

Educational institutions by kind[27]

Nationality, ethnicity, and language

Ethnic groups

File:Pakistan ethnic map v2.svg
Ethnic groups in Pakistan.

Pakistan's diversity is more visible along cultural differences and less along linguistic, religious or genetic lines. Almost all Pakistanis belong to the Indo-Iranian linguistic group of the Indo-European branch. Pakistan's rough estimates vary, but the consensus is that the Punjabis are the largest ethnic group. Pashtuns (Pakhtuns) make up the second largest group and Sindhi are the third-largest ethnic group.[29][30][not in citation given] Saraikis (a transitional group between Punjabis and Sindhis) make up 10.53% of the total population. The remaining large groups include the Muhajirs and the Baloch people, which make up 7.57% and 3.57% of the total population, respectively. Hindkowans and the Brahui, and the various peoples of the Gilgit–Baltistan, constitute roughly 4.66% of the total population. The Pakhtun and Baloch represent two of the major populations that are linguistically Iranian, while the majority Punjabis, Hindkowans, Sindhis and Saraikis are the major linguistically Indo-Aryan groups.

Descendents of Black Africans that were brought as slaves in the 15th to the 19th century are known as Sheedis. The Sheedis are Muslims and speak Balochi, Sindhi and Urdu.

In 1850, the British started developing Karachi as a major port for trade and commerce, resulting in the arrival of a large number immigrants from Rajasthan, Gujarat and Goa. The Goan Catholics constitute the majority of the Christians in the city.[31]

After the Pakistan–India war in 1971, thousands of Biharis and Bengalis from Bangladesh arrived in the Karachi, followed by Muslim Rohingya refugees[32] from Burma, and Asians from Uganda. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), approximately 1.7 million Afghan refugees remain in Pakistan as of 2009.[33] Many of them were born and raised in Pakistan in the last 30 years but are still counted as citizens of Afghanistan.[34] The majority of Afghans in Pakistan are ethnic Pakhtuns from southeastern Afghanistan, who have settled in Pakistan due to civil strife in their home country.[35]

All major ethnic groups in Pakistan, while categorized as separate entities, have thousands of years of shared history and inter-mingling. In addition, inter-marriages between ethnic groups within the country are not uncommon.

Foreign-born population in Pakistan

After the independence of Pakistan in 1947, many Muslims from India migrated to Pakistan and they are the largest group of foreign-born residents. This group is dwindling because of its age. The second-largest group of foreign-born residents consists of Muslim refugees from Afghanistan, who have settled in Pakistan due to civil war in their home country. There are also smaller groups of Muslim immigrants from Burma, Bangladesh, Iraq, Somalia, Iran, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, among others.

File:Percentage Foreign Born - Pakistan.jpg
Mostly those born before 1947
Year Population Foreign born Percentage foreign born
1960 46,259,000 6,350,296 13.73%
1970 59,565,000 5,105,556 8.57%
1980 79,297,000 5,012,524 6.32%
1990 111,698,000 6,555,782 5.87%
2000 142,648,000 4,242,689 2.97%
2005 157,935,000 3,254,112 2.06%

Source: [36]


Census history of major languages
Rank Language 1998 census 1981 census 1961 census 1951 census
1 Punjabi* 44.15% 48.17% 56.39% 57.08%
2 Pashto 15.42% 13.35% 8.47% 8.16%
3 Sindhi 14.1% 12.7% 12.59% 12.85%
4 Saraiki* 10.53% 9.54%
5 Urdu 7.57% 7.60% 7.57% 7.05%
6 Balochi 3.57% 3.02% 2.49% 3.04%

{* Saraiki was included with Punjabi in the 1951 and 1961 censuses.}

Following are the major languages spoken in Pakistan. The percentage of Pakistanis who are native speakers of that language is also given.

Language 2008 estimate 1998 census Main areas spoken
1 Punjabi 76,369,930 44.17% 58,433,431 44.15% Punjab
2 Pashto 26,695,760 15.44% 20,408,621 15.42% Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
3 Sindhi 26,540,150 15.35% 18,661,571 14.10% Sindh
4 Saraiki 18,016,180 10.42% 13,936,594 10.53% South Punjab
5 Urdu 13,123,110 7.59% 10,019,576 7.57% Karachi, Sindh
6 Balochi 6,207,110 3.59% 4,724,871 3.57% Balochistan
7 Others 5,947,760 3.44% 6,167,515 4.66%
Total 172,900,000 100% 132,352,279 100% Pakistan

There are around 75 to 80 known Pakistani languages although, in practice, there are primarily six major languages in Pakistan spoken by 95% of the population: Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi, Saraiki, Urdu, and Balochi. The official language is English and the national language is Urdu, the census indicates that around 8% of the population speak Urdu as their first language. However, due to rapid urbanization and modernization, the use of Urdu as a primary language is increasing, especially amongst the growing urbanized middle class of Pakistan. Most Pakistanis speak or understand at least two to three languages and almost all Pakistanis speak or understand the national language, Urdu.

The most prevalent native languages appear in bold below, with the percentage of the population speaking them as their first language rounded to the nearest percentage point:


English is the official language, being widely used within the government, by the civil service and the officer ranks of the military. Pakistan's Constitution and laws are written in English. Nearly all schools, colleges and universities use English as the medium of instruction. Amongst the more educated social circles of Pakistan, English is seen as the language of upward mobility and its use is becoming more prevalent in upper social circles, often spoken alongside native Pakistani languages.[citation needed] Among countries that use English as an official language, Pakistan is the third-most populous in the world.


Urdu is the national language of Pakistan, the lingua franca chosen to facilitate inter-provincial communication between the country's diverse linguistic populations. Although only about 7.5% of Pakistanis speak it as their first language, it is spoken as a second and often third language by nearly all Pakistanis. Its introduction as the lingua franca was encouraged by the British Raj upon the capitulation and annexation of Sindh (1843) and Punjab (1849) with the subsequent ban on the use of Persian, the lingua franca of the region for many centuries, a continuation since the introduction of the language by Central Asian Turkic invaders who migrated into the Indian Subcontinent,[38] and the patronisation of it by the earlier Turko-Afghan Delhi Sultanate. The decision to make the language change was to institute a universal language throughout the then British Raj in South Asia as well as minimize the influence of Persia, the Ottoman Empire, and Afghanistan had on this transitional region.[citation needed] Urdu is a relatively new language in the contemporary sense but has undergone considerable modifications and development borrowing heavily on the traditions of older languages such as Persian, Arabic, Turkish and local South Asian languages, all of which can be found in its vocabulary. It began as a standardized register of Hindi and in its spoken form. It is widely used, both formally and informally, for personal letters as well as public literature, in the literary sphere and in the popular media. It is a required subject of study in all primary and secondary schools. It is the first language of most Muhajirs (Muslim refugees that arrived from different parts of India after the independence of Pakistan in 1947), that form nearly 8% of Pakistan's population and is an acquired language. But nearly all of Pakistan's native ethnic groups representing almost 92% of the population making Pakistan a unique country in the choice of national languages. As Pakistan's national language, Urdu has been promoted as a token of national unity. In recent years, the Urdu spoken in Pakistan has undergone further evolution and acquired a particularly Pakistani flavour to it often absorbing local native terminology and adopting a strong Punjabi, Sindhi and Pashto leaning in terms of intonations and vocabulary. It is a modern language which is constantly evolving from its original form. It is written in a modified form of the Perso-Arabic script, Nastaliq, and its basic Hindi-based vocabulary has been enriched by words from Persian, Arabic, Turkic languages and English. Urdu has drawn inspiration from Persian literature and has now an enormous stock of words from that language. In recent years, the Urdu spoken in Pakistan has gradually incorporated words from many of the native languages found there including Pashto, Punjabi and Sindhi to name a few. As such, the language is constantly developing and has acquired a particularly 'Pakistani' flavour to it distinguishing itself from that spoken in ancient times and in India. The first poetry in Urdu was by the poet Amir Khusro (1253–1325) and the first Urdu book Woh Majlis was written in 1728 and the first time the word "Urdu" was used by Sirajuddin Ali Khan Arzoo in 1741.[39] The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir (1658–1707) spoke Urdu (or Hindustani) fluently as did his descendents while his ancestors mostly spoke Persian and Turkish.[40]


Punjabi is a provincial language spoken as a first language by around half of all Pakistanis, mostly in Punjab, as well as by a large number of people in Karachi. It is an important language since Punjabi dialects are spoken by more than half of Pakistanis. However, Punjabi does not have any official status in Pakistan. The exact number of Punjabi speakers in Pakistan is hard to determine since there are many dialects such as Saraiki, which most regard as part of Punjabi and others regard as separate language. When taking into account Hindko, Potwari, Pahari, Saraiki, Punjabi dialects are thus spoken by almost 60% of the population in Pakistan. The standard Punjabi dialect is from Lahore, Sialkot, Gujranwala and Sheikhupura districts of the Pakistani Punjab which was used by Waris Shah (1722–1798) in his book Heer Ranjha and is also nowadays the language of Punjabi literature, film and music, such as Lollywood. Other dialects are Multani or Saraiki in the West and South, Pothowari and Hindko in the North, Dogri in the mountain areas and Shahpuri in the Sargodha district.

Punjabi is descended from Prakrit in the Vedic period (1700 BC), Pali, and Apabhramsha in the Ashoka period (273 BC – 232 BC) and Hindvi, Lahori and Multani in the Muslim period (711 AD – 1857 AD). Punjabi literature was principally spiritual in nature and has had a very rich oral tradition. The great poetry written by Sufi saints has been the folklore of the Punjab and is still sung with great love in any part of the region.


Sindhi is a provincial language spoken as a second language by 15% of Pakistanis, mostly in Sindh. It has a rich literature and is used in schools. It is an Indo-Aryan (Indo-European) language, derived from Sanskrit. The Arabs ruled Sindh for more than 150 years after Muhammad bin Qasim conquered it in 712 AD, remaining there for three years to set up Arab rule. Consequently, the social fabric of Sindh contains elements of Arabic society. Sindhi is spoken by over 36 million people in Pakistan, and is the official language of Sindh province. It is widely spoken in the Lasbela District of Balochistan (where the Lasi tribe speaks a dialect of Sindhi), many areas of the Naseerabad and Jafarabad districts of Balochistan, and by the Sindhi diaspora abroad. Sindhi language has six major dialects: Sireli, Vicholi, Lari, Thari, Lasi and Kachhi. It is written in the Arabic script with several additional letters to accommodate special sounds. The largest Sindhi-speaking cities are Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Shikarpur, Dadu, Jacobabad, Larkana, Mirpur Khas, Thatta, Badin and Nawabshah. Sindhi literature is also spiritual in nature. Shah Abdul Latif Bhita'i (1689–1752) is one of its greatest poets, and wrote Sassi Punnun and Umar Marvi, folk stories, in his famous book Shah Jo Risalo.

Sindhi dialects:

  • Sindhi Saraiki – a version of Saraiki language regarded as a dialect of Sindhi; spoken mainly in Upper Sindh
  • Vicholi – in Vicholo, i.e. Central Sindh
  • Lari – in Laru, i.e. Lower Sindh
  • Lasi – in Lasa B’elo, a part of Kohistan in Baluchistan on the western side of Sindh
  • Thari or Thareli – in Tharu, the desert region on the southeast border of Sindh and a part of the Jaisalmer district in Rajasthan
  • Kachhi – in the Kutch region and in a part of Kathiawar in Gujarat, on the southern side of Sindh

Vicholi is considered as the standard dialect by all Sindhi speakers.


Pashto is a provincial language spoken as a first language by about 15% of Pakistanis, mostly in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and in Balochistan as well as by immigrants to the eastern provinces who are often not counted due to census irregularities. The Pashto has rich written literary traditions as well as an oral tradition. There are two major dialect patterns within which the various individual dialects may be classified; these are Pakhto, which is the Northern (Peshawar) variety, and the softer Pashto spoken in the southern areas. Khushal Khan Khattak (1613–1689) and Rahman Baba (1633–1708) were the most famous poets in the Pashto language. In the last part of 20th century, Pakhto or Pashto has produced some great poets like Ghani Khan, Khatir Afridi and Amir Hamza Shinwari. There are also many Pakistanis from the adjacent regions of Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan who are conversant in Pashto and count it as their second language. They are not included in the overall percentage.

The Pashtuns (Pakhtuns or Pathans), originally from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, FATA and northern Balochistan, are now the city's second largest ethnic group in Karachi after Muhajirs.[41][42] With as high as 7 million by some estimates, the city of Karachi in Pakistan has the largest concentration of urban Pakhtun population in the world, including 50,000 registered Afghan refugees in the city.[43] Karachi is the biggest Pashto speaking city in the world although the Pashto speakers constitute only about 25% of Karachi's population.[44]


Saraiki, sometimes spelled Seraiki and Siraiki, is viewed as a dialect of Punjabi language. Debate of language or dialect is an ongoing phenomenon in Indo-Aryan (Indic) languages. It is spoken as a first language mostly in the southern districts of Punjab: Multan, Lodhran, Bahawalpur,Layyah, Dera Ghazi Khan, Muzaffargarh and Rahim Yar Khan. It is also spoken by majority of population of Dera Ismail Khan district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Kachi plain of Balochistan, northern parts of Sindh, and cities of Hyderabad and Karachi. More than 21 million people speak Saraiki.


Balochi is a provincial language spoken as first language by about 3.5% of Pakistanis, mostly in Balochistan. Sindh and southern Punjab. The name Balochi or Baluchi is not found before the 10th century. It is believed that the language was brought to its present location in a series of migrations Aleppo, Syria. Rakshani is the major dialect group in terms of numbers. Sarhaddi, is a sub dialect of Rakshani. Other sub – dialects are Qalati, Chagai Kharani, and Makrani. The Eastern Hill Balochi or Northern Balochi are distinct dialects.The Kethran language in North East Balochistan is also a variant of Balochi. It is one of the 9 distinguished languages of Pakistan. Since Balochi is a poetic and rich language and have a certain degree of affinity to Urdu, Balochi poets tend to be very good poets in Urdu as well as Ata Shaad, Gul Khan Nasir and Noon Meem Danish are excellent examples of this.


Brahui (Urdu: براہوی '‎) is a regional language of uncertain origin despite the fact that the bulk of the language shares lexical similarities to Balochi as well as Sindhi. In colonial times, many British linguists tried to make the claim of a possible Dravidian language origin but this has not been conclusively proven despite ongoing research in the language for a century now.[45] spoken in southern Pakistan, may have evolved from the original languages of Indus valley civilizations at Mehrgarh. However it is heavily influenced by Balochi and Pashto. It is spoken in central and east central Balochistan. The Mengals are a famous Brahvi tribe. Around 1–1.5% of Pakistani population has Brahui as their first language. It is one of the nine distinguished languages of Pakistan.

The Brahui population of Balochistan has been taken by some as the linguistic equivalent of a relict population, perhaps indicating that Dravidian languages were formerly much more widespread and were supplanted by the incoming Indo-Aryan languages.[46] However it has now been demonstrated that the Brahui could only have migrated to Balochistan from central India after 1000 CE. The absence of any Avestan, an older Iranian language, loanwords in Brahui supports this hypothesis. The main Iranian contributor to Brahui vocabulary, Balochi, is a western Iranian language like Kurdish, and moved to the area from the west only around 1000 CE.[47]


Hindko dialect is an ancient regional dialect spoken by Hindkowans in Pakistan. It is very similar to northern dialects of Punjabi. It is spoken in the areas of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (including Hazara), local people of Peshawar Punjab and Azad Kashmir by an estimated 2.2 to 4 million people.[citation needed] During the pre-Buddhist era in present-day Pakistan, the language of the masses was refined by the ancient grammarian Pāṇini, who set the rules of a structurally rigorous language called Sanskrit which was used principally for scriptures (analogous to Latin in the Western world). Meanwhile, the vernacular language of the masses, Prakrit developed into many tongues and dialects which spread over the northern parts of South Asia. Hindko is believed to be closely related to Prakrit. Due to the geographic isolation of the regions, it has undergone very little grammatical corruption, but has borrowed considerable vocabulary from its neighbours, in particular Pashto. It shows close affinity to Punjabi and the Lahnda sub-group of Indo-Aryan tongues and can be sub-divided into a northern and southern dialects.


Kashmiri (كأشُر) is an ancient Dardic language spoken in Azad Kashmir, Gilgit–Baltistan and Punjab provinces of Pakistan. There are over 100,000[48] Kashmiri speakers in Pakistan.

Dari and Tajiki

Many Dari speakers and Tajiks, from Afghanistan have settled in Pakistan permanently. There are also Tajiks refugees from Tajikistan that have settled in Pakistan[citation needed].


Arabic is considered to be the religious language of Pakistan. The Quran, Sunnah, Hadith and Muslim theology is taught in Arabic with Urdu translation. The large numbers of Pakistanis living in the Persian Gulf region and in other Middle Eastern countries has further increased the number of people who can speak Arabic in Pakistan. Arabic is taught as a religious language in Mosques, Schools, Colleges, Universities and Madrassahs. Nearly all of Pakistan's Muslim population has had some form of education in the reading, writing and pronunciation of the Arabic language.

Many Arabs who took part in Afghanistan war have now settled in Pakistan permanently with their families. Millions of Pakistanis that have worked in Middle East also speak Arabic as a second language.


Turkic languages were used by the ruling Turco-Mongols (or Mughals) and earlier Sultans of India many of whom have settled in Pakistan. There are pockets of Turkic speakers found throughout the country, notably in the valleys in the countries northern regions which lie adjacent to Central Asia and Afghanistan, western Pakistani region of Waziristan principally around Kanigoram where the Burki tribe dwells and in Pakistan's urban centres of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. The autobiography of Mughal emperor Babur, Tuzk Babari was also written in Turkish.

Many Turkic speaking refugees, Uzbeks and Turkmens, from Afghanistan have settled in Pakistan permanently. They are also Uzbeks and Turkmen refugees that have moved from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and settled in Pakistan. Turkey also provides scholarships to large number of Pakistani students to study in Turkish universities.

The word Urdu is of Turkic origin, as Urdu was originally called Zaban-e-Ordu or language of the Army, Ordu means army in many Turkic languages.

Other Pakistani languages

Numerous other languages are spoken by relatively small numbers of people, especially in some of the more remote and isolated places in, for example, the Northern Areas of Pakistan.[49] Other Indo-European languages spoken in Pakistan include Pothohari, Shina,Balti, Gujjari, Kutchi, Wakhi, Kashmiri, Marwari, Memoni, Khowar, and Dari Persian. Non-Indo-European languages include Brahui and Burushaski, a language isolate.

There are some languages that are spoken by less than a thousand people, such as Aer.



Most of Pakistan's languages are Indo-European languages and within the smaller Indo-Iranian sub-branch.

Indo-Aryan languages

Around 80% of Pakistan's population speak one or more of the various Indo-Aryan languages. Usually concentrated in the heavily populated areas east of the Indus river, the Indo-Aryan languages and their cultures form the predominant cultural group in the country. They derive their roots from the Sanskrit language of Aryan invadors and are later heavily influenced by the languages of the later Muslim arrivals (i.e., Turkish, Persian, and Arabic), and are all written in a variant of either the Arabic or Nastaliq script. Urdu, the country's national language, is an Indo-Aryan tongue. Punjabi, Hindko and Seraiki, all mutually intelligible, are classified by linguists as dialects of an Indo-Aryan speech called Lahnda,[50] also spelled as Lehnda. These are also, to a lesser extent, mutually intelligible with Urdu. Added together, speakers of these mutually-intelligible languages make up nearly two-thirds of Pakistan's population. Sindhi is the common language of the people of Sindh in southern Pakistan and has a rich literary history of its own, traced back to the era of the early Arab arrivals. The Dardic languages of Gilgit–Baltistan, Azad Kashmir and the northwestern mountains are sometimes classified by many linguists as belonging to the Indo-Aryan family. Other Indo-Aryan languages include Gujarati, Kutchi, Memoni and others.

Dardic languages

The Dardic languages are spoken in the northern Pakistan. They include Shina (spoken in Gilgit, Chilas and Diamar), Khowar (spoken in Chitral, Ghizer, Swat and the balti language (spoken in [baltistan] including [skardu] district and [Ghanche] district. Majority of population living in the valley of Hunza, Nagar and Yasin speak Mishaski. Kalam Valley of upper Swat), Kalash (spoken by Kalash tribe), Kohistani (spoken in upper Swat and Kohistan) and Kashmiri mostly by Immigrants from Kashmir valley and by a few in the Neelum District.

Kashmiri spoken in north east Azad Kashmir and the adjacent Kashmir valley, (not to be confused with Pahari language spoken in the lower Azad Kashmir) is one of the Dardic languages that has a literary tradition that goes well back into the history whereas other Dardic languages spoken in northern Pakistan, do not have written literature. It is believed to be the result of the northern areas of Pakistan having remained isolated in the mountain valleys from the others for centuries.


Pashto, Yidgha and Wakhi are Eastern Iranian languages spoken in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and the Gilgit–Baltistan region of Pakistan. Balochi spoken in Balochistan is classified as a members of the Northwestern Iranian languages.[51] If combined, Iranian peoples who speak Pashto, Balochi, Yidgha and Wakhi comprise about 18% of the population of Pakistan, and are concentrated in the northwest and west of Pakistan.


Brahui may or may not be a language isolate and many origins have been hypothesized for it including Iranian and Dravidian.[45] spoken in southern Pakistan, primarily in Kalat in Balochistan. The Brahui population of Balochistan has been taken by some as the linguistic equivalent of a relict population, perhaps indicating that Dravidian languages were formerly much more widespread and were supplanted by the incoming Indo-Aryan languages.[46] However it has now been demonstrated that the Brahui could only have migrated to Balochistan from central India after 1000 CE. The absence of any Avestan, an older Iranian language, loanwords in Brahui supports this hypothesis. The main Iranian contributor to Brahui vocabulary, Balochi, is a western Iranian language like Kurdish, and moved to the area from the west only around 1000 CE.[47]


Burushaski is a language isolate, spoken by Burusho people in Hunza, Nagar, Yasin, and parts of the Gilgit valleys in the Gilgit–Baltistan region of Pakistan.


Shina the largest language spoken in Gilgit-Baltistan in diamer,ghizer,some areas of baltistan, district gilgit and Nagar district.


According to the CIA World Factbook, Library of Congress, Oxford University, over 97% of the population of Pakistan is Muslim and the remaining 3% is Christian, Hindu and others.[52][53][54] Majority of the Muslims practice Sunni with a significant minority of Shi'as.

Nearly all Pakistani Sunni Muslims belong to the Hanafi school, although there are some Hanbalis and Ahlul Hadeeth. The majority of Shia Muslims belong to the Ithnā‘Ashariyyah branch,[52] while a smaller number practice Ismailism. The Ahmadi Muslims make up approximately 2.2% of the Muslim population. There are small non-Muslim religious groups, including Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Parsis, Bahá'ís and Zoroastrians (Parsis).[citation needed]

The religious breakdown of the Pakistani population is as follows:[citation needed]#

Pakistanis around the world

 Saudi Arabia 1,500,000
 United Arab Emirates 1,200,000
 United Kingdom 1,200,000
 United States 600,410[56] –
 Canada 350,000
 Kuwait 100,000
 Oman 85,000
 Germany 52,668
 Qatar 52,500
 France 50,000
 Norway 35,000
 Denmark 21,000
 Ireland 9,501

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See also


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  55. Most Buddhist Nations (2010) | QuickLists | The Association of Religion Data Archives
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External links

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