Demographics of Pakistan
Pakistan population pyramid in 2020
Population230,495,437 (2021) [1]
Growth rate2.00 (2021)[2]
Birth rate29.8 births / 1,000 population (2016)[2]
Death rate7.5 deaths / 1,000 population (2016)[2]
Life expectancy70.0 years (2020)[3]
 • male69.9 years (2020)[3]
 • female70.1 years(2020)[3]
Fertility rate3.56 children born / woman (2016)[3]
Infant mortality rate53.86 deaths / 1,000 live births (2016)[3]
Age structure
0–14 years35.7% (male 36,000,000 / female 36,000,000)[2]
15–64 years60.2% (male 61,120,000 / female 57,000,000)[2]
65 and over4.1% (male 3,890,840 / female 4,325,538) (Jan. 2017)[2]
Sex ratio
At birth1.05 male(s) / female (2016)[3]
Under 151.056 male(s) / female (2016)[2]
15–64 years1.068 male(s) / female (2016)[2]
65 and over0.9 male(s) / female (2016)[2]
Nationalitynoun: Pakistani
Major ethnicSee Ethnic groups of Pakistan
SpokenSee Languages of Pakistan

Pakistan's estimated population (excluding Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan) in 2021 was 225,199,937 according to the 2017 Census of Pakistan.[4][5][6] Pakistan is the world's fifth-most-populous country. However, as per recent 2020 statistics, the current population of Pakistan is 230,495,437 with the growth rate of 2.0%.[7]

During 1950–2012, 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. Between 1998 and 2017, the average population growth rate stood at 2.40%.[1]

Dramatic social changes have led to rapid urbanisation 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 the modern region of Pakistan from Eurasia and the nearby Middle East.


Main article: Census in Pakistan

Population pyramid
Population pyramid

Geographic distribution

Population density in Pakistan
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

According to OECD/World Bank, the population in Pakistan increased by 23 million from 1990 to 2008, with a 54% growth in population.[10]

Yearly population increase

Pakistan's yearly population from 1950 to 2012, with estimation since last census (1998).


Historic UN estimates


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 142,344 42.0 54.0 4.0
2005 160,304 40.0 55.9 4.1
2010 179,425 37.7 58.1 4.2
2015 199,427 35.9 59.8 4.3
2020 220,892 34.8 60.8 4.3

Structure of population

The following statistics[13] are for 1 July 2010. They exclude data for Azad Kashmir, the final status of which has not yet been determined. They are based on the results of the Pakistan Demographic Survey (PDS 2010).

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
0–20 32,130,198 30,220,789 62,350,987 41.61
21–50 41,951,884 40,618,318 82,570,202 55.10
60+ 2,775,655 2,163,544 4,939,199 3.30

Gender ratios

Vital statistics

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 30.3 8.4 21.9 4.23 76.8
2005–2010 4,666,000 1,277,000 3,390,000 30.3 8.0 22.3 3.98 70.9
2010–2015 29.7 7.5 22.2 3.72
2015–2020 27.4 7.2 20.2 3.38
2020–2025 24.7 7.0 17.7 3.10
2025–2030 22.4 6.9 15.5 2.88
2030–2035 20.9 7.0 13.9 2.69
2035–2040 20.0 7.2 12.8 2.54
1 CBR = crude birth rate (per 1,000); CDR = crude death rate (per 1,000); NC = natural change (per 1,000); TFR = total fertility rate (number of children per woman); IMR = infant mortality rate per 1,000 births

Vital statistics

Year (1 July) Population 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
2009 173,500,000 4,820 1,290 3,530 27.5 7.3 20.2 3.5
2010 177,100,000 4,820 1,290 3,530 27.5 7.3 20.2 3.5
2011 180,710,000 4,915 1,301 3,614 27.2 7.2 20.0 3.4
2012 184,350,000 4,941 1,291 3,650 26.8 7.0 19.8 3.3
2013 188,020,000 4,964 1,297 3,667 26.4 6.9 19.5 3.2
2014 191,710,000 5,003 1,303 3,700 26.1 6.8 19.3 3.2
2015 195,400,000 5,002 1,309 3,693 25.6 6.7 18.9 3.1
2016 199,710,000 5,033 1,318 3,715 25.2 6.6 18.6 3.0

Fertility rate (Demographic and Health Surveys)

CBR (Crude Birth Rate), Total Fertility Rate (TFR) and Wanted Fertility Rate (WFR):[15]

Year CBR (Total) CBR (Urban) CBR (Rural) TFR (Total) TFR (Urban) TFR (Rural) WFR (Total) WFR (Urban) WFR (Rural)
1990–1991 5.4 4.9 5.6 4.7 3.8 5.1
2006–2007 30.7 27.6 32.3 4.1 3.3 4.5 3.1 2.5 3.4
2012–2013 3.8 3.2 4.2 2.9 2.4 3.1
2017–2018 29 26 31 3.6 2.9 3.9 2.9 2.4 3.2

Fertility (wanted fertility) by region 2017–18

Region Fertility rate
Urban 2.9 (2.4)
Rural 3.9 (3.2)
Overall 3.6 (2.9)
ICT Islamabad 3.0 (2.2)
Punjab 3.4 (2.8)
Sindh 3.6 (3.0)
Azad Kashmir 3.5 (2.7)
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 4.0 (3.2)
Balochistan 4.0 (3.1)
Gilgit-Baltistan 4.7 (3.7)
FATA 4.8

Contraceptives usage (%) 2017–2018

Region Contraceptives usage (%)
Urban 42.5%
Rural 29.4%
Overall 34.2%
ICT Islamabad 45.7%
Gilgit-Baltistan 39%
Punjab 38.3%
Sindh 30.9%
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 30.9%
Azad Kashmir 27.6%
FATA 21.8%
Balochistan 19.8%

Mortality and life expectancy

Period Life expectancy in
Period Life expectancy in
1950–1955 37.0 1985–1990 59.3
1955–1960 42.7 1990–1995 60.8
1960–1965 47.5 1995–2000 62.1
1965–1970 51.3 2000–2005 63.3
1970–1975 54.1 2005–2010 64.4
1975–1980 56.1 2010–2015 65.9
1980–1985 57.8

Source: UN World Population Prospects[17]

Life expectancy in Pakistan by administrative unit

Unit[18] 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 2012 2015 2018
Azad Jammu & Kashmir 55.86 58.50 Increase 61.03 Increase 63.25 Increase 65.72 Increase 66.80 Increase 66.74 Decrease 66.33 Decrease
Balochistan 63.93 65.42 Increase 66.82 Increase 68.02 Increase 66.07 Decrease 64.41 Decrease 65.82 Increase 67.01 Increase
FATA 68.65 70.26 Increase 71.76 Increase 73.05 Increase 74.38 Increase 74.92 Increase 74.04 Decrease 73.00 Decrease
Gilgit-Baltistan 61.14 62.57 Increase 63.91 Increase 65.06 Increase 66.24 Increase 66.73 Increase 65.94 Decrease 65.01 Decrease
Islamabad (ICT) 62.62 64.09 Increase 65.46 Increase 66.63 Increase 70.38 Increase 72.61 Increase 71.77 Decrease 70.77 Decrease
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 62.12 63.57 Increase 64.93 Increase 66.10 Increase 68.05 Increase 69.06 Increase 69.01 Decrease 68.79 Decrease
Punjab 59.27 60.65 Increase 61.95 Increase 63.06 Increase 64.41 Increase 65.02 Increase 65.75 Increase 66.29 Increase
Sindh 59.26 60.65 Increase 61.94 Increase 63.06 Increase 65.18 Increase 66.31 Increase 66.86 Increase 67.22 Increase
Pakistan 60.10 61.51 Increase 62.82 Increase 63.95 Increase 65.26 Increase 65.85 Increase 66.58 Increase 67.11 Increase

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.[19]

Human development

Human Development Index

Further information: List of administrative units of Pakistan by Human Development Index

Pakistan's Human Development Index (HDI) value for 2018 is in the medium human development category with a score of 0.560 (152nd rank out of 189 countries and territories) compared to 0.614 (135th rank) for Bangladesh and 0.647 (129th rank) for India. From 1990 to 2018, Pakistan's HDI increased 38.6% from 0.404 to 0.560.[20][21]

2018 Information on Pakistani provinces/regions, compared to other countries, estimated at three decimal places is provided below:[22]

Rank Region HDI (2018)[22] Comparable countries[23]
Medium human development
1 Islamabad Capital Territory 0.678 Decrease  Morocco
2 Azad Jammu & Kashmir 0.611 Decrease  São Tomé and Príncipe
3 Gilgit-Baltistan 0.593 Increase  Zambia
4 Punjab 0.567 Increase  Cameroon/ Zimbabwe
 Pakistan (average) 0.561 Increase  Cameroon/ Zimbabwe
Low human development
5 Sindh 0.533 Decrease  Nigeria
6 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 0.529 Decrease  Tanzania/ Uganda
7 Balochistan 0.477 Increase  Ethiopia
8 FATA 0.466 Decrease  Gambia/ Guinea


definition: aged 10 and over with the "Ability to read and understand simple text in any language from a newspaper or magazine, write a simple letter and perform basic mathematical calculation (ie, counting and addition/subtraction)." as of 2018

Educational institutions by kind

Nationality, ethnicity, and language

Majority ethnolinguistic group by district in Pakistan as of the 1998 Pakistan Census[citation needed]
Majority ethnolinguistic group by district in Pakistan as of the 1998 Pakistan Census[citation needed]

Ethnic groups

Ethnic groups in Pakistan[27]

Main article: Ethnic groups in Pakistan

Pakistan's diversity is more visible along cultural differences, lingusitic and genetic lines.

Almost all Pakistanis ethnic groups 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, forming nearly half of the national population. Pashtuns make up the second largest ethnic group and Sindhi are the third-largest ethnic group.[28] Saraikis (a transitional group between Punjabis and Sindhis) speaking people make up 10.53% of the total population, while remaining large groups include the Muhajir people and the Baloch people, whom make up 7.57% and 3.57% of the total population, respectively. Lastly, smaller groups include Hindkowans and the Brahui, and the various peoples of the Gilgit–Baltistan, together constituting roughly 4.66% of the total population.

The Pashtun and Baloch represent two of the only ethnics that speak an Iranian language (Pashto and Balochi), while the majority Punjabi, Hindkowan, Sindhi and Saraiki populations are linguistically Indo-Aryan.

Descendants 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.[29]

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.[30]

After the Pakistan–India war in 1971, thousands of Biharis and Bengalis from Bangladesh arrived in the Karachi, followed by Muslim Rohingya refugees[31] from Burma, and Asians from Uganda.

Approximately 1.4 million[32] Afghan citizens (most being native Pashtuns) reside in Pakistan on a temporary bases.[33][34] Many of them were born and raised in Pakistan in the last 30 years.[35] The majority of this group are ethnic Pashtuns from southeastern Afghanistan.[36]

Foreign-born population in Pakistan

Main article: Immigration to 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 refugees from Afghanistan who are expected to leave Pakistan by the end of 2018.[33] There are also smaller groups of Muslim immigrants from countries such as Burma, Bangladesh, Iraq, Somalia, Iran, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, among others.[citation needed]

Mostly those born before 1947
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: [37]


Main article: Languages of Pakistan

Languages of Pakistan (2017)[38]

  Punjabi (44.2%)
  Pashto (15.4%)
  Sindhi (14.1%)
  Saraiki (10.5%)
  Urdu (7.6%)
  Balochi (3.6%)
  Hindko (2.0%)
  Brahui (1.04%)
  Others (1.65%)
Census history of major languages
Rank Language 2017 census 1998 census 1981 census 1961 census 1951 census
1 Punjabi* 44.2% 44.15% 48.17% 56.39% 57.08%
2 Pashto 15.4% 14.42% 13.35% 8.47% 8.16%
3 Sindhi 14.1% 14.1% 12.7% 12.59% 12.85%
4 Saraiki* 10.5% 10.53% 9.54%
5 Urdu 7.6% 7.57% 7.60% 7.57% 7.05%
6 Balochi 3.6% 3.57% 3.02% 2.49% 3.04%
7 Others 4.6% 4.66% 5.62% 12.49% 11.82%

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 co-official language, is 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. Many schools, colleges and most 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.[40] Among countries that use English as an official language, Pakistan is third-most populous in the world.


Lashkari Zabān title in Naskh script
Lashkari Zabān title in Naskh script

Urdu, or Lashkari (لشکری), is the national language of Pakistan, the lingua franca chosen to facilitate 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.

On the annexation of Sindh (1843) and Punjab (1849), the British Raj encouraged its use as the lingua franca and subsequently banned the use of Persian, which had been the lingua franca of the region for centuries before. Persian had been introduced by Central Asian Turkic invaders who migrated into South Asia,[41] and had been patronised by the Turko-Afghan Delhi Sultanate. This language change was designed to institute a universal language throughout the then British Raj in South Asia as well as minimize the influence that Persia, the Ottoman Empire and Afghanistan had on this transitional region.[citation needed]

Urdu is a relatively new language but has undergone considerable modification and development, with many borrowings from older languages such as Persian, Arabic, Chagatai and other South Asian languages. It is a standardized register of Hindustani 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, and that form nearly 8% of Pakistan's population – and is an acquired language by nearly all of Pakistan's native ethnic groups. It is spoken by almost 92% of the population, making Pakistan a unique country in its choice of a 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", 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.

The first poetry in Urdu was by the poet Amir Khusro (1253–1325) and the first Urdu book Woh Majlis was written in 1728; the first time the word "Urdu" was used was by Sirajuddin Ali Khan Arzoo in 1741.[42] The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir (1658–1707) spoke what the locals called Lashkari Zaban[43] or what the Mughals called Zaban-i-Ordu (both meaning "language of the Horde"; commonly known as Hindustani back then) fluently as did his descendants while his ancestors mostly spoke Persian and a language related to Turkish.[44]


Punjabi is a provincial language spoken mostly in Punjab, as well as by a large number of people in Karachi. Punjabi does not have any official status in Pakistan. The exact number of Punjabi speakers in Pakistan is hard to determine since the boundaries with the closely related Hindko, Potohari and Saraiki are not always clear-cut. The standard Punjabi variety is from Lahore, Sialkot, Gujranwala and Sheikhupura districts of Pakistani Punjab, and is also nowadays the language of Punjabi literature, film and music, such as Lollywood.


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. 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. 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 (originally from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, FATA and northern Balochistan, are now the city's second largest ethnic group in Karachi after Muhajirs.[45][46] With as high as 7 million by some estimates, the city of Karachi in Pakistan has the largest concentration of urban Pashtun population in the world, including 50,000 registered Afghan refugees in the city.[47] Karachi is the biggest Pashto speaking city in the world although the Pashto speakers constitute only about 25% of Karachi's population.[48]


Sindhi is a provincial language spoken as a first language by 16% of Pakistanis, mostly in Sindh. It has a rich literature and is used in schools. It is an Indo-Aryan (Indo-European) language. 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. The 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:

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


Saraiki, sometimes spelled Seraiki and Siraiki, is spoken as a first language by about 20 million people, mostly in the southern districts of Punjab: Multan, Lodhran, Bahawalpur, Layyah, Dera Ghazi Khan, Muzaffargarh and Rahim Yar Khan. It is also spoken by the majority of the population of Dera Ismail Khan District in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Kachi plain of Balochistan, northern parts of Sindh, and cities of Hyderabad and Karachi.


Balochi is a provincial language spoken as the 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. According to Baloch Folklore, the language was brought to its present location in a series of migrations from Aleppo, Syria. Ethnologists and Linguists however propose that the original Balochi Language arrived from the Caspian Sea Region, perhaps from Balasagan. 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 has a certain degree of affinity to Urdu, Balochi poets tend to be very good poets in Urdu as well. Atta Shad, Gul Khan Nasir and Noon Meem Danish are excellent examples of this.


Brahui 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.[49] 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 the 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.[50] 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.[51]


Hazaragi is an eastern variety of Persian that is spoken by the Hazaras in Pakistan, is similar to Dari. It is spoken in parts of the Quetta district of Karachi, Islamabad, and in parts of Ziarat. There are estimated to be 900,000 to 1,000,000 Hazaragi-speakers.[52]


Hindko is spoken in areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (including Hazara), Peshawar city, Punjab and Azad Kashmir, by an estimated 4.65 million people.[53] 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. There is a literary tradition based on Peshawari, the urban variety of Peshawar in the northwest, and another one based on the language of Abbottabad in the northeast. Hindko is mutually intelligible with Punjabi and Saraiki, and has more affinities with the latter than with the former. Differences with other Punjabi varieties are more pronounced in the morphology and phonology than in the syntax. A speaker of Hindko may be referred to as Hindkowan (Hindkuwan).


Kashmiri is a Dardic language spoken in Azad Kashmir, Gilgit–Baltistan and Punjab provinces of Pakistan. Kashmiri is spoken primarily in the territory of Azad Kashmir, where the speakers are mostly concentrated in the Neelam and Leepa valleys and in the district of Haveli. There are over 100,000[54] Kashmiri speakers in Pakistan.


Shina is a language from the Dardic sub-group of the Indo-Aryan family spoken by the Shina people, a plurality of the people in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral (Arandu, Damel, Biol, Asuret and adjoining areas) of Pakistan. Dialects of the Shina language are Gilgiti (the prestige dialect), Astori, Chilasi, Kohistani, Drasi, Gurezi, Jalkoti, Kolai, Palasi and in Chitrali (Dameli, Dangariki, Arandui etc). Related languages spoken by ethnic Shina are Brokskat, Palula, Savi, and Ushojo.


Wakhi is an Indo-European language in the Eastern Iranian branch of the language family spoken today in Wakhan District, Northern Afghanistan and also in Tajikistan, Northern Pakistan and China. Wakhi is one of several languages that belong to the areal Pamir language group. Its relationship to the other Iranian languages is not clear; in certain features Wakhi shows affinity to the extinct Saka language in particular. The Wakhi people are occasionally called Pamiris and Guhjali. It is spoken by the inhabitants of the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan, parts of Gilgit–Baltistan of Pakistan, Gorno-Badakhshan region of Tajikistan, and Xinjiang in western China.


Khowar is an Indo-Aryan language of the Dardic group spoken in Chitral and Gilgit region of Pakistan. Khowar is spoken by the Kho people in the whole of Chitral, as well as in the Gupis-Yasin and Ghizer districts of Gilgit, and in parts of Upper Swat (Mateltan Village).

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.[55] Other languages include Balti, Kalami, Marwari, Memoni, Kutchi, Gujari, Potohari 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.


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 invaders 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, Seraiki, Pothwari and Hindko all mutually intelligible, are classified by linguists as dialects of an Indo-Aryan speech called Lahnda,[56] 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.


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.[57] 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.


The Dardic languages are spoken in the northern Pakistan. They include Shina (spoken in Gilgit, Chilas and Diamar), Khowar (spoken in Chitral, Ghizer, Swat), Kalami (Kalam Valley of upper Swat), Kalasha (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.


Brahui may or may not be a language isolate and many origins have been hypothesized for it including Iranian and Dravidian.[49] 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.[50] 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.[51]


Balti is the only Tibetic language in Pakistan spoken by the Balti people in the Baltistan region of Gilgit-Baltistan. It is quite different from Standard Tibetan. Many sounds of Old Tibetan that were lost in Standard Tibetan are retained in the Balti language. It also has a simple pitch accent system only in multi-syllabic words while Standard Tibetan has a complex and distinct pitch system that includes tone contour.


Burushaski is a language isolate, spoken by Burusho people who reside almost entirely in the Hunza-Nagar District, northern Gilgit District, the Yasin valley in the Gupis-Yasin District and the Ishkoman valley of the northern Ghizer District.


Main article: Religion in Pakistan

Religion in Pakistan (2017)[58]

  Sunni Islam (80%)
  Shia Islam (16%)
  Hinduism (3%)
  Christianity (1.5%)
  Other religions (0.5%)

According to the World Factbook, Library of Congress, Oxford University, over 96% of the population of Pakistan is Muslim and the remaining 4% is Hindu, Christian, and others.[59][60][61] 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 Ahl-e-Hadees. The majority of Shia Muslims belong to the Ithnā‘Ashariyyah branch,[59] while a smaller number practice Ismailism. There are small non-Muslim religious groups, including Christians, Ahmadis, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Baháʼís and Zoroastrians (Parsis),[citation needed]

The religious breakdown of the Pakistani population is as follows:

Pakistanis around the world

Main article: Overseas Pakistanis

 Saudi Arabia 4,000,000
 United Arab Emirates 1,600,000
 United Kingdom 1,200,000
 United States 600,410[62]
 Canada 156,300[63]
 Kuwait 190,000
 South Africa 180,000[64]
 Oman 385,000
 Australia 61,913[65]
 Germany 179,668
 Qatar 52,500
 France 50,000
 Norway 35,000
 Denmark 21,000
 New Zealand 10,000
 Ireland 9,501

See also


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