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Religion in Pakistan (2017 census)[1][2][3][4][5]

  Islam (96.47%)
  Hinduism (2.14%)
  Christianity (1.27%)
  Ahmadiyya (0.09%)
  Others (0.02%)

The official religion of Pakistan is Islam, as enshrined by Article 2 of the Constitution, and is practised by approximately 96.47% of the country's population.[1][7] The remaining 3.53% practice Hinduism, Christianity, Ahmadiyya Islam (considered non-Muslims by the Pakistani constitution),[8] Sikhism and other religions.[9][10]

A few aspects of secularism have also been adopted by Pakistani constitution from British colonial concept.[9][11][12][13][14] However, religious minorities in Pakistan often face significant discrimination, subject to issues such as violence and the blasphemy laws.[15][16]

Muslims comprise a number of sects: the majority practice Sunni Islam (estimated at 90%), while a minority practice Shia Islam (estimated at 10%).[17][18][19] Most Pakistani Sunni Muslims belong to the Hanafi school of jurisprudence,[9] which is represented by the Barelvi and Deobandi traditions. However, the Hanbali school is gaining popularity recently due to Wahhabi influence from the Middle East.[20] The majority of Pakistani Shia Muslims belong to the Twelver Islamic law school, with significant minority groups who practice Ismailism, which is composed of Nizari (Aga Khanis), Mustaali, Dawoodi Bohra, Sulaymani, and others.

Before the arrival of Islam beginning in the 8th century, the region comprising Pakistan was home to a diverse plethora of faiths, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Zoroastrianism.[21][22]

Equal rights

Khawaja Nazimuddin, Pakistan's second Prime Minister, argued against equal rights for all citizens in an Islamic state.[23] However, The Constitution of Pakistan establishes Islam as the state religion,[24] and provides that all citizens have the right to profess, practice and propagate their religion subject to law, public order, and morality.[25] The Constitution also states that all laws are to conform with the injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Quran and Sunnah.[26]

The Constitution limits the political rights of Pakistan's non-Muslims. Only Muslims are allowed to become the President[27] or the Prime Minister.[28] Only Muslims are allowed to serve as judges in the Federal Shariat Court, which has the power to strike down any law deemed un-Islamic, though its judgments can be overruled by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.[29] However, non-Muslims have served as judges in the High Courts and Supreme Court.[30] In 2019, Naveed Amir, a Christian member of the National Assembly moved a bill to amend the article 41 and 91 of the Constitution which would allow non-Muslims to become Prime Minister and President of Pakistan. However, Pakistan's parliament blocked the bill.[31]

Secularism

Main articles: Secularism in Pakistan, Freedom of religion in Pakistan, and Demography of Pakistan

Aspects & Practices of secularism

There was a petition in Supreme Court of Pakistan in the year of 2015 by 17 judges to declare the nation as a "Secular state" officially.[32] Muhammad Ali Jinnah (the founder of Pakistan) wanted Pakistan to be a secular, democratic, and a liberal republic.[33] Pakistan was secular from 1947 to 1955 and after that, Pakistan adopted a constitution in 1956, becoming an Islamic republic with Islam as its state religion.[34]

The main principles of Secularism in the Pakistani constitution were incorporated in its fundamental rights which were granted under various articles of 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, 27, 36 & 38 of the constitution[35]

(a) Article 20 : Freedom to profess religion and to manage religious institutions.[36]

(b) Article 21 : Safeguard against taxation for purposes of any particular religion.[37]

(c) Article 22 : Safeguards as to educational institutions in respect of religion, etc.[38]

(d) Article 25 : Equality of citizens.[39]

(e) Article 26 : Non-discrimination in respect of access to public places.[40]

(f) Article 27 : Article 27: Safeguard against discrimination in services.[41]

(g) Article 36: Protection of Minorities.[42]

(h) Article 38: Promotion of social and economic well-being of all the people.[43]

Demographics of religion in Pakistan

1901 to 1931 census

The 1961 Census of Pakistan (Volume 1 – page 24 of Part II – Statement 2.19) released estimates on the religious composition of the country to the nearest thousandth for Muslims, Hindus, Christians, and others for 60 years prior.[44]: 93–94 [45]: 20–21  The pre-partition figures were derived from prior decadal censuses taken in administrative divisions in British India that would become part of Pakistan following partition, and included separate results for West Pakistan and East Pakistan. As the area that composes the contemporary nation of Pakistan corresponds with the historical administrative unit of West Pakistan, the figures in the table below are for West Pakistan from the 1901 census, 1911 census, 1921 census, and the 1931 census.

Religion in Pakistan (1901–1931)[a]
Religious
group
1901
[44]: 93–94 [45]: 20–21 
1911
[44]: 93–94 [45]: 20–21 
1921
[44]: 93–94 [45]: 20–21 
1931
[44]: 93–94 [45]: 20–21 
Pop. % Pop. % Pop. % Pop. %
Islam 10,957,000 80.39% 13,077,000 81.25% 13,554,000 79.53% 16,533,000 77.56%
Hinduism 2,327,000 17.07% 2,267,000 14.09% 2,523,000 14.8% 3,115,000 14.61%
Christianity 31,000 0.23% 119,000 0.74% 214,000 1.26% 357,000 1.67%
Others[b] 314,000 2.3% 631,000 3.92% 751,000 4.41% 1,312,000 6.15%
Total Responses 13,630,000[c] 82.22% 16,094,000[d] 83.04% 17,042,000[e] 80.74% 21,317,000[f] 90.55%
Total Population 16,577,000[c] 100% 19,381,000[d] 100% 21,108,000[e] 100% 23,541,000[f] 100%

1941 census

Further information: West Punjab § Religion, North-West Frontier Province § Religion, and Baluchistan Agency § Religion

The total population of the region that composes contemporary Pakistan was approximately 29,643,600 according to the final census prior to partition in 1941. With the exception of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, all administrative divisions in the region that composes contemporary Pakistan collected religious data, with a combined total population of 27,266,001, for an overall response rate of 92.0 percent. Similar to the contemporary era, where censuses do not collect religious data in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit–Baltistan, the total number of responses for religion is slightly smaller than the total population, as detailed in the table breakdown below.

Religious groups in Pakistan (1941)[k]
Religious
group
Pakistan[k] Punjab[46]: 42 [g] Sindh[47]: 28 [h] Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa
[48]: 22 
Balochistan[49]: 13–18  AJK[50]: 337–352 [i] Gilgit–
Baltistan
[50]: 337–352 [j]
Total
Population
Percentage Pop. % Pop. % Pop. % Pop. % Pop. % Pop. %
Islam 21,113,214 77.43% 13,022,160 75.06% 3,462,015 71.52% 2,788,797 91.8% 785,181 91.53% 939,460 87.54% 115,601 99.62%
Hinduism [l] 3,981,565 14.6% 2,373,466 13.68% 1,279,530 26.43% 180,321 5.94% 54,394 6.34% 93,559 8.72% 295 0.25%
Sikhism 1,672,753 6.13% 1,530,112 8.82% 32,627 0.67% 57,939 1.91% 12,044 1.4% 39,910 3.72% 121 0.1%
Christianity 432,724 1.59% 395,311 2.28% 20,304 0.42% 10,889 0.36% 6,056 0.71% 136 0.01% 28 0.02%
Tribal 37,603 0.14% 37,598 0.78% 3 0% 0 0% 2 0%
Jainism 13,219 0.05% 9,520 0.05% 3,687 0.08% 1 0% 11 0% 0 0% 0 0%
Zoroastrianism 4,252 0.02% 312 0% 3,841 0.08% 24 0% 75 0.01% 0 0% 0 0%
Judaism 1,179 0.004% 7 0% 1,082 0.02% 71 0% 19 0% 0 0% 0 0%
Buddhism 266 0.001% 87 0% 111 0% 25 0% 43 0.01% 0 0% 0 0%
Others 19,226 0.07% 19,128 0.11% 0 0% 0 0% 9 0% 89 0.01% 0 0%
Total responses 27,266,001 91.98% 17,340,103 100% 4,840,795 100% 3,038,067[m] 56.1% 857,835 100% 1,073,154 100% 116,047 100%
Total population 29,643,600 100% 17,340,103 100% 4,840,795 100% 5,415,666[m] 100% 857,835 100% 1,073,154 100% 116,047 100%

1951 census

Refugees during Partition of India, 1947

Religion in Pakistan (1951 Official census)[51]

  Islam (97.1%)
  Hinduism (1.6%)
  Christianity (1.2%)
  Others (0.1%)

After partition, when first census of Pakistan was conducted in the year 1951, It was found that the Muslim proportion in West Pakistan (contemporary Pakistan) increased from approximately 77.3 percent according to the 1941 census,[k] to 97.1 percent as per the 1951 census;[52] in contrast, the combined Hindu and Sikh proportion in West Pakistan (contemporary Pakistan) decreased from approximately 20.8 percent[k] to just 1.7 percent during the same timeframe, as the 1947 Partition of India gave rise to bloody rioting and indiscriminate inter-communal killing of Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs across the Indian subcontinent, especially in Punjab region. As a result, around 7.3 million Hindus and Sikhs moved to India and 7.2 million Muslims moved to Pakistan permanently, leading to demographic change of both the nations to a certain extent.[53][54]

2017 census

Pakistan Religious diversity as per (2017 census)[4][2][3]
Religion Population %
Muslims () 200,352,754 96.47%
Hindus () 4,444,437 2.14%
Christians () 2,637,586 1.27%
Ahmadiyya Muslims 207,688 0.09%
Others (inc. Sikhs, Zoroastrians, Baháʼís, Buddhists, Irreligious) 20,767 0.01%
Total 207,684,000 100%

As per 2017 Census of Pakistan, the country has a population of 207,684,000.The CCI approved the release of provisional population figures of 207.754 million people. The final results showed the total population of Pakistan to be 207.684 million, a reduction of 68,738 people or 0.033% against provisional results,[55] Pakistan has a population of 224,418,238 as of 2021.[56]

As of 2018, there are 3.63 million non-Muslim voters in Pakistan- 1.77 million were Hindus, 1.64 million Christians, 167,505 were Ahmadi Muslims, 31,543 were Baháʼís, 8,852 were Sikhs, 4,020 were Parsis, 1,884 were Buddhist and others such as Kalashas.[57] The NADRA makes it nearly impossible to declare and change the religion to anything from Islam making the statistics somewhat misleading.[58]

Details

Pakistan Bureau of Statistics released religious data of Pakistan Census 2017 on 19 May 2021.[59] 96.47% are Muslims, followed by 2.14% Hindus, 1.27% Christians, 0.09% Ahmadi Muslims and 0.02% others.

These are some maps of religious minority groups. The 2017 census showed an increasing share in Hinduism, mainly caused by a higher birth rate among the impoverished Hindus of Sindh province. This census also recorded Pakistan's first Hindu-majority district, called Umerkot District, where Muslims were previously the majority.

On the other hand, Christianity in Pakistan, while increasing in raw numbers, has fallen significantly in percentage terms since the last census. This is due to Pakistani Christians having a significantly lower fertility rate than Pakistani Muslims and Pakistani Hindus as well as them being concentrated in the most developed parts of Pakistan, Lahore District (over 5% Christian), Islamabad Capital Territory (over 4% Christian), and Northern Punjab.

The Ahmadiyya movement shrunk in size (both raw numbers and percentage) between 1998 and 2017, while remaining concentrated in Lalian Tehsil, Chiniot District, where approximately 13% of the population is Ahmadi Muslim.

Here are some maps of Pakistan's religious minority groups as of the 2017 census by district:

Demographics of religion by province/territory

Punjab

Religion in Punjab, Pakistan (1901–2017)
Religious
group
1901[60]: 34 [61]: 62 [n] 1911[62]: 27 [63]: 27 [o] 1921[64]: 29 [p] 1931[65]: 277 [q] 1941[46]: 42 [g] 1951[66]: 12–21  1998[67] 2017[68][4]
Pop. % Pop. % Pop. % Pop. % Pop. % Pop. % Pop. % Pop. %
Islam 7,951,155 76.25% 8,494,314 76.49% 8,975,288 75.49% 10,570,029 75.28% 13,022,160 75.06% 20,200,794 97.89% 71,574,830 97.22% 107,541,602 97.77%
Hinduism [r] 1,944,363 18.65% 1,645,758 14.82% 1,797,141 15.12% 1,957,878 13.94% 2,373,466 13.68% 33,052 0.16% 116,410 0.16% 211,641 0.19%
Sikhism 483,999 4.64% 813,441 7.33% 863,091 7.26% 1,180,789 8.41% 1,530,112 8.82%
Christianity 42,371 0.41% 144,514 1.3% 247,030 2.08% 324,730 2.31% 395,311 2.28% 402,617 1.95% 1,699,843 2.31% 2,063,063 1.88%
Jainism 5,562 0.05% 5,977 0.05% 5,930 0.05% 6,921 0.05% 9,520 0.05%
Zoroastrianism 300 0.003% 377 0.003% 309 0.003% 413 0.003% 312 0.002% 195 0.001%
Judaism 9 0.0001% 36 0.0003% 16 0.0001% 6 0% 7 0%
Buddhism 6 0.0001% 168 0.002% 172 0.001% 32 0.0002% 87 0.001% 9 0%
Ahmadiyya 181,428 0.25% 158,021 0.14%
Others[s] 0 0% 0 0% 8 0.0001% 0 0% 19,534 0.11% 35 0% 48,779 0.07% 15,328 0.01%
Total Population 10,427,765 100% 11,104,585 100% 11,888,985 100% 14,040,798 100% 17,350,103 100% 20,636,702 100% 73,621,290 100% 109,989,655 100%

Sindh

Religion in Sindh (1901–2017)
Religious
group
1901[69][t] 1911[70][u] 1921[71][v] 1931[72][w] 1941[47]: 28 [h] 1951[66]: 22–26 [x] 1998[67] 2017[68][4]
Pop. % Pop. % Pop. % Pop. % Pop. % Pop. % Pop. % Pop. %
Islam 2,609,337 76.52% 2,822,756 75.53% 2,562,700 73.8% 3,017,377 73.34% 3,462,015 71.52% 5,535,645 91.53% 27,796,814 91.32% 43,234,107 90.34%
Hinduism 787,683 23.1% 877,313 23.47% 876,629 25.24% 1,055,119 25.65% 1,279,530 26.43% 482,560 7.98% 2,280,842 7.49% 4,176,986 8.73%
Christianity 7,825 0.23% 10,917 0.29% 11,734 0.34% 15,152 0.37% 20,304 0.42% 22,601 0.37% 294,885 0.97% 408,301 0.85%
Zoroastrianism 2,000 0.06% 2,411 0.06% 2,913 0.08% 3,537 0.09% 3,841 0.08% 5,046 0.08%
Jainism 921 0.03% 1,349 0.04% 1,534 0.04% 1,144 0.03% 3,687 0.08%
Judaism 428 0.01% 595 0.02% 671 0.02% 985 0.02% 1,082 0.02%
Buddhism 0 0% 21 0.001% 41 0.001% 53 0.001% 111 0.002% 670 0.01%
Sikhism [y] 12,339 0.33% 8,036 0.23% 19,172 0.47% 32,627 0.67%
Tribal[y] 9,224 0.25% 8,186 0.24% 204 0% 37,598 0.78%
Ahmadiyya 43,524 0.14% 21,661 0.05%
Others 2,029 0.06% 298 0.01% 64 0.002% 1,510 0.04% 0 0% 1,226 0.02% 23,828 0.08% 13,455 0.03%
Total Population 3,410,223 100% 3,737,223 100% 3,472,508 100% 4,114,253 100% 4,840,795 100% 6,047,748 100% 30,439,893 100% 47,854,510 100%

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Religion in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (1881–1931)[z]
Religious
group
1881[73]: 95  1891[73]: 95  1901[74]: 34–36  1911[73]: 307–308  1921[75]: 345–346  1931[76]: 373–375 
Pop. % Pop. % Pop. % Pop. % Pop. % Pop. %
Islam 1,451,444 92.1% 1,714,490 92.3% 1,890,479 92.19% 2,039,994 92.86% 2,062,786 91.62% 2,227,303 91.84%
Hinduism 111,892 7.1% 118,881 6.4% 129,306 6.31% 119,942 5.46% 149,881 6.66% 142,977 5.9%
Sikhism 7,880 0.5% 18,575 1% 25,733 1.25% 30,345 1.38% 28,040 1.25% 42,510 1.75%
Christianity 4,728 0.3% 5,573 0.3% 5,119 0.25% 6,585 0.3% 10,610 0.47% 12,213 0.5%
Jainism 37 0.002% 4 0% 3 0% 0 0%
Zoroastrianism 46 0.002% 49 0.002% 20 0.001% 60 0.002%
Judaism 4 0% 14 0.001% 0 0% 11 0%
Buddhism 0 0% 0 0% 0 0% 2 0%
Others 0 0% 0 0% 0 0% 0 0%
Total Responses[z] 1,575,943 100% 1,857,519 100% 2,050,724 96.48% 2,196,933 57.53% 2,251,340 44.35% 2,425,076 51.77%
Total Population[z] 1,575,943 100% 1,857,519 100% 2,125,480 100% 3,819,027 100% 5,076,476 100% 4,684,364 100%
Religion in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (1941–2017)[z]
Religious
group
1941[48]: 22  1951[66]: 9–11  1998[67] 2017[68][4]
Pop. % Pop. % Pop. % Pop. %
Islam 2,788,797 91.8% 5,858,080 99.89% 20,808,480 99.47% 35,428,857 99.79%
Hinduism 180,321 5.94% 2,432 0.04% 5,368 0.03% 6,373 0.02%
Sikhism 57,939 1.91%
Christianity 10,889 0.36% 3,823 0.07% 38,974 0.19% 50,018 0.14%
Judaism 71 0.002%
Buddhism 25 0.001%
Zoroastrianism 24 0.001%
Jainism 1 0%
Ahmadiyya Muslims 48,703 0.23% 7,204 0.02%
Others 0 0% 215 0.004% 16,808 0.08% 9,512 0.03%
Total Responses[z] 3,038,067 56.1% 5,864,550 100% 20,919,976 100% 35,501,964 100%
Total Population[z] 5,415,666 100% 5,864,550 100% 20,919,976 100% 35,501,964 100%

Balochistan

Religion in Balochistan (1901–2017)
Religious
group
1901[77]: 5  1911[78]: 9–13  1921[79]: 47–52  1931[80]: 149  1941[49]: 13–18  1951[66]: 2  1998[67] 2017[68][4]
Pop. % Pop. % Pop. % Pop. % Pop. % Pop. % Pop. % Pop. %
Islam 765,368 94.4% 782,648 93.76% 733,477 91.73% 798,093 91.88% 785,181 91.53% 1,137,063 98.52% 6,484,006 98.75% 12,255,528 99.28%
Hinduism 38,158 4.71% 38,326 4.59% 51,348 6.42% 53,681 6.18% 54,394 6.34% 13,087 1.13% 39,146 0.6% 49,378 0.4%
Sikhism 2,972 0.37% 8,390 1.01% 7,741 0.97% 8,425 0.97% 12,044 1.4%
Christianity 4,026 0.5% 5,085 0.61% 6,693 0.84% 8,059 0.93% 6,056 0.71% 3,937 0.34% 26,462 0.4% 33,330 0.27%
Zoroastrianism 166 0.02% 170 0.02% 165 0.02% 167 0.02% 75 0.01% 79 0.01%
Judaism 48 0.01% 57 0.01% 19 0% 17 0% 19 0%
Jainism 8 0% 10 0% 17 0% 17 0% 11 0%
Buddhism 0 0% 16 0% 160 0.02% 68 0.01% 43 0.01% 1 0%
Ahmadiyya Muslim 9,800 0.15% 2,469 0.02%
Others 0 0% 1 0% 5 0% 75 0.01% 12 0% 0 0% 6,471 0.1% 3,703 0.03%
Total Population 810,746 100% 834,703 100% 799,625 100% 868,617 100% 857,835 100% 1,154,167 100% 6,565,885 100% 12,344,408 100%

Azad Jammu and Kashmir

Religious groups in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (1941)[i]
Religious
group
1941[50]: 337–352 
Pop. %
Islam 939,460 87.54%
Hinduism 93,559 8.72%
Sikhism 39,910 3.72%
Christianity 136 0.01%
Others 89 0.01%
Total population 1,073,154 100%

Gilgit–Baltistan

Religious groups in Gilgit–Baltistan (1941)[j]
Religious
group
1941[50]: 337–352 
Pop. %
Islam 115,601 99.62%
Hinduism 295 0.25%
Sikhism 121 0.1%
Christianity 28 0.02%
Tribal 2 0%
Total population 116,047 100%

Islam

Main article: Islam in Pakistan

The Faisal Mosque in Islamabad, which is the largest mosque of Pakistan and is also one of the largest in the world, was built by King Faisal of Saudi Arabia.

Islam is the state religion of Pakistan, and about 95–98% of Pakistanis are Muslim.[9] Pakistan has the second largest number of Muslims in the world after Indonesia.[81] The majority are Sunni (estimated at 85-90%),[17][18] with an estimated 10–15% Shia.[17][18][19][82] A PEW survey in 2012 found that 6% of Pakistani Muslims were Shia.[83] There are a number of Islamic law schools called Madhab (schools of jurisprudence), which are called fiqh or 'Maktab-e-Fikr' in Urdu. Nearly all Pakistani Sunni Muslims belong to the Hanafi Islamic school of thought, while a small number belong to the Hanbali school. The majority of Pakistani Shia Muslims belong to the Twelver (Ithna Asharia) branch, with significant minority who adhere to Ismailism branch that is composed of Nizari (Aga Khanis), Mustaali, Dawoodi Bohra, Sulaymani, and others.[84] Sufis and above mentioned Sunni and Shia sects are considered to be Muslims according to the Constitution of Pakistan; the Ahmadiyya (though self-described Muslims) are specifically declared not to be.

The mosque is an important religious as well as social institution in Pakistan.[85][86] Many rituals and ceremonies are celebrated according to Islamic calendar.

Sunni

Barelvi and Deobandi Sunni Muslims

There are two major Sunni sects in Pakistan, the Barelvi movement and Deobandi movement. Statistics regarding Pakistan's sects and sub-sects have been called "tenuous",[87] but estimates of the sizes of the two groups give a slight majority of Pakistan's population to followers of the Barelvi school, while 15–25% are thought to follow the Deobandi school of jurisprudence.[88][89][90]

Sufi

The shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar

Islam to some extent syncretized with pre-Islamic influences, resulting in a religion with some traditions distinct from those of the Arab world. Two Sufis whose shrines receive much national attention are Ali Hajweri in Lahore (ca. 11th century) and Shahbaz Qalander in Sehwan, Sindh (ca. 12th century).[citation needed] Sufism, a mystical Islamic tradition, promoted by Fariduddin Ganjshakar in Pakpatan, has a long history and a large popular following in Pakistan. Popular Sufi culture is centered on Thursday night gatherings at shrines and annual festivals which feature Sufi music and dance. Contemporary Islamic fundamentalists criticize its popular character, which in their view, does not accurately reflect the teachings and practice of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and his companions. There have been terrorist attacks directed at Sufi shrines and festivals, 5 in 2010 that killed 64 people.[91][92]

Ahmadiyya

Main article: Ahmadiyya in Pakistan

Yadgar Mosque, the first mosque of Rabwah

According to the last Census in Pakistan, Ahmadi Muslim made up 0.22% of the population; however, the Ahmadiyya Muslim community boycotted the census. Independent groups generally estimate the population to be somewhere between two and five million Ahmadi Muslims. In media reports, four million is the most commonly cited figure.[93]

In 1974, the government of Pakistan amended the Constitution of Pakistan to define a Muslim according to Qu'ran 33:40,[94] as a person who believes in finality of Muhammad under the Ordinance XX. According to Ordinance XX, Ahmadi Muslims cannot call themselves Muslim or "pose as Muslims" which is punishable by three years in prison.[95] Ahmadi Muslims believe in Muhammad as the final law-bearing prophet, but also believe Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to be a prophet, the prophecised Mehdi and second coming of Jesus. Consequently, Ahmadi Muslims were declared non-Muslims by a parliamentary tribunal and are subject to persecution under Pakistani blasphemy laws.

Hinduism

Main article: Hinduism in Pakistan

Shri Hinglaj Mata temple shakti peetha is the largest Hindu pilgrimage centre in Pakistan. The annual Hinglaj Yathra is attended by more than 250,000 people.[96]

Hinduism is the second largest religion affiliation in Pakistan after Islam.[97] As of 2020, Pakistan has the fourth largest Hindu population in the world after India, Nepal and Bangladesh.[98] According to the 1998 Census, the Hindu population was found to be 2,111,271 (including 332,343 scheduled castes Hindus). While according to latest census of 2017, There are 4.4 million Hindus in Pakistan out of 207.68 million total population comprising 2.14% of the country's population of both General and Schedule caste.[55] Hindus are found in all provinces of Pakistan but are mostly concentrated in Sindh. About 93% of Hindus live in Sindh, 5% in Punjab and nearly 2% in Balochistan.[99] They speak a variety of languages such as Sindhi, Seraiki, Aer, Dhatki, Gera, Goaria, Gurgula, Jandavra, Kabutra, Koli, Loarki, Marwari, Sansi, Vaghri[100] and Gujarati.[101]

The Rig Veda, the oldest Hindu text, is believed to have been composed in the Punjab region in the Indian subcontinent around 1500 BCE[102] and spread from there across South and South East Asia slowly developing and evolving into the various forms of the faith we see today.[103]

Many ancient Hindu temples are located throughout Pakistan. A significant Hindu pilgrimage site known as Hinglaj Mata takes place in southern Balochistan, where over 250,000 people visit during spring as a pilgrimage.

Cases collected by Global Human Rights Defence show that underage Hindu (and Christian) girls are often targeted by Muslims for forced conversion to Islam.[15] According to the National Commission of Justice and Peace and the Pakistan Hindu Council (PHC) around 1,000 non-Muslim minority women are converted to Islam and then forcibly married off to their abductors or rapists.[104][16]

Christianity

Main article: Christianity in Pakistan

Sacred Heart Cathedral, Lahore

Christians (Urdu: مسيحى، عیسائی) make up 1.3% of Pakistan's population.[105] The majority of the Pakistani Christian community consists of Punjabis who converted during the British colonial era and their descendants.[dubiousdiscuss][citation needed] Pakistani Christians mainly live in Punjab and in urban centres. There is also a Roman Catholic community in Karachi which was established by Goan and Tamil migrants when Karachi's infrastructure was being developed between the two World Wars. A few Protestant groups conduct missions in Pakistan. The present Christian population in Pakistan is ranged between 2 and 3 million as per as recent (2020–21) year estimation by various institution and NGOs of Pakistan.[3] There is a small myth that Christianity has been existent in Pakistan ever since a few decades after the crucifixion of Jesus. This myth became more popular after the finding of a structure looking like a giant cross in Northern Pakistan, but there is almost no evidence that this cross is related to Christianity.

There are a number of church-run schools in Pakistan that admit students of all religions, including Forman Christian College,[106][107] St. Patrick's Institute of Science & Technology and Saint Joseph's College for Women, Karachi.

Pakistan is number eight on Open Doors’ 2022 World Watch List, an annual ranking of the 50 countries where Christians face the most extreme persecution.[108] Cases collected by Global Human Rights Defence show that young underage Christian (and Hindu) girls are sometimes targeted by Muslims for forced conversion to Islam.[15][16] Christians also often face abuses of Pakistani blasphemy laws, notably in the case of Asia Bibi.

Sikhism

Main article: Sikhism in Pakistan

Gurdwara Janam Asthan, the birthplace of the founder of Sikhism in Nankana Sahib

In the 15th century, the Sikh faith was born in the Punjab region (of present day India and Pakistan) where Sikhism's founder Guru Nanak was born. Home to some of the world's most sacred gurdwaras, Sikhs have a become a crucial part in Pakistan's religious tourism with large numbers coming to the country particularly during festivals. Aside from religious tourists, estimates on the Sikh population permanently residing in Pakistan vary due to the community being excluded from the national census up until 2023 which marks the first inclusion of Sikhs in census data since partition (where almost 99% fled to India).[109] The results of the 2023 Census of Pakistan thus are significant in the first official Sikh count since the formation of Pakistan as a sovereign nation.

In a news article published in December 2022, there was an estimated 30,000–35,000 Sikhs in Pakistan according to Gurpal Singh.[110] Other sources, including the US Department of State, claim the Sikh population in Pakistan to be at 20,000.[111][112] Though full community counts have not yet been available, the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) does provide the numbers of eligible voters belonging to minority religions (registered in electoral rolls):

In recent years, their numbers have increased with many Sikhs migrating from neighboring Afghanistan who have joined their co-religionists in Pakistan.[114]

Other religions

Baháʼí

Main article: Baháʼí Faith in Pakistan

The Baháʼí Faith in Pakistan begins previous to its independence when it was still under British colonial rule. The roots of the religion in the region go back to the first days of the Bábí religion in 1844,[115] with Shaykh Sa'id Hindi who was from Multan.[116] During Bahá'u'lláh's lifetime, as founder of the religion, he encouraged some of his followers to move to the area that is present day Pakistan.[117]

The Baháʼís in Pakistan have the right to hold public meetings, establish academic centers, teach their faith, and elect their administrative councils.[118] Bahá'í sources claim their population to be around 30,000.[119] Shoba Das of Minority Rights Group International reported around 200 Baháʼís in Islamabad and between 2,000 and 3,000 Baháʼís in Pakistan, in 2013.[120] One more PhD thesis says that "It is an assumption that the Bahá’ís do not want to declare their exact population, which is supposed to be more or less 3,000 in total". Most of these Bahá’ís have their roots in Iran.[121]

Zoroastrianism

Further information: Parsi people

Bai Virbaiji Soparivala Parsi School, Karachi

There are at least 4,000 Pakistani citizen practicing the Zoroastrian religion.[122] The region of Balochistan is believed to be a stronghold of Zoroastrianism before the advent of Islam.[123][124] With the flight of Zoroastrians from Greater Iran into the Indian subcontinent, the Parsi communities were established. More recently, from the 15th century onwards, Zorastrians came to settle the coast of Sindh and have established thriving communities and commercial enterprises. At the time of independence of Pakistan in 1947, Karachi and Lahore were home to a thriving Parsi business community. Karachi had the most prominent population of Parsis in Pakistan, though their population is declining.[125][126] Parsis have entered Pakistani public life as social workers, business folk, journalists and diplomats. The most prominent Parsis of Pakistan today include Ardeshir Cowasjee, Byram Dinshawji Avari, Jamsheed Marker, as well as Minocher Bhandara. The founding father of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, married Ratti Bai who belonged to a Parsi family before her conversion to Islam.[127]

Kalash

Main article: Kalash people

Guardians of a Kalasha village in the valley of Mumuret (Bumburet)

The Kalash people practise a form of ancient Hinduism[128] mixed with animism.[129] Adherents of the Kalash religion number around 3,000 and inhabit three remote valleys in Chitral; Bumboret, Rumbur and Birir. Their religion has been compared to that of ancient Greece, but they are much closer to the Hindu traditions in other parts of the Indian subcontinent.[128] It is more similar to the historical Vedic religion, than later forms of Hinduism.[130]

Jainism

Main article: Jainism in Pakistan

A Jain Temple at Sirkap, part of the Indo-Greek kingdom, near modern-day Taxila, Punjab, Pakistan

Several ancient Jain shrines are scattered across the country.[131] Baba Dharam Dass was a holy man whose tomb is located near the bank of a creek called (Deoka or Deokay or Degh) near Chawinda Phatic, behind the agricultural main office in Pasrur, near the city of Sialkot in Punjab, Pakistan. Another prominent Jain monk of the region was Vijayanandsuri of Gujranwala, whose samadhi (memorial shrine) still stands in the city.[131]

Buddhism

Main article: Buddhism in Pakistan

A statue of Buddha (at Jaulian, Taxila) with a hole in the navel is an odd artifact. It is called the "Healing Buddha". Buddhist pilgrims put their fings in the navel hole and pray for the ailment of the patients.

Buddhism has an ancient history in Pakistan; currently there is a small community of at least 1500 Pakistani Buddhist in the country.[122] The country is dotted with numerous ancient and disused Buddhist stupas along the entire breadth of the Indus River that courses through the heart of the country. Many Buddhist empires and city states existed, notably in Gandhara but also elsewhere in Taxila, Punjab and Sindh.[132]

The number of Buddhist voters was 1,884 in 2017 and are mostly concentrated in Sindh and Punjab.[133]

Judaism

Main article: Jews and Judaism in Pakistan

Various estimates suggest that there were about 1,500 Jews living in Pakistan at the time of its independence on 14 August 1947, with the majority living in Karachi and a few living in Peshawar. However, almost all emigrated to Israel after 1948. There are a few disused synagogues in both cities; while one Karachi synagogue was torn down for the construction of a shopping mall. The one in Peshawar still exists, although the building is not being used for any religious purpose. There is a small Jewish community of Pakistani origin settled in Ramla, Israel.

One Pakistani, Faisal Khalid (a.k.a. Fishel Benkhald) of Karachi claims to be Pakistan's only Jew.[134][135] He claimed that his mother is Jewish (making him Jewish by Jewish custom) but, his father is a Muslim. Pakistani authorities have issued him a passport which stated Judaism as his religion and have allowed him to travel to Israel.[136][137][138]

Irreligion

Main article: Irreligion in Pakistan

Irreligion is present among a minority of mainly young people in Pakistan. There are people who do not profess any faith (such as atheists and agnostics) in Pakistan, but their numbers are not known.[139] They are particularly in the affluent areas of the larger cities. Some were born in secular families while others in religious ones. According to the 1998 census, people who did not state their religion accounted for 0.5% of the population, but social pressure against claiming no religion was strong.[114] A 2012 study by Gallup Pakistan found that people not affiliated to any religion account for 1% of the population.[140] Many atheists in Pakistan have been lynched and imprisoned over unsubstantiated allegations of blasphemy. When the state initiated a full-fledged crackdown on atheism since 2017, it has become worse with secular bloggers being kidnapped and the government running advertisements urging people to identify blasphemers among them and the highest judges declaring such people to be terrorists.[141]

Freedom of religion in Pakistan

Main article: Freedom of religion in Pakistan

In 2022, Freedom House rated Pakistan’s religious freedom as 1 out of 4,[142] noting that the blasphemy laws are often exploited by religious vigilantes and also curtail the freedom of expression by Christians and Muslims, especially Ahmadi Muslims. Hindus have spoken of vulnerability to kidnapping and forced conversions. Pakistan, a Muslim-majority country of about 220 million, is often under fire for crimes against members of its religious minorities, including Christians, Ahmadi and Shi’ite Muslims, and Hindus.[143][144]

See also

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  1. ^ Figures in table are for West Pakistan, as the area that composes the contemporary nation of Pakistan corresponds with the historical administrative unit of West Pakistan.
  2. ^ Including Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Tribals, others, or not stated
  3. ^ a b Religions break up of 2,947,000 persons are not available as such those have been excluded from all relevant totals.[44]: 94 [45]: 21 
  4. ^ a b Religions break up of 3,287,000 persons are not available as such those have been excluded from all relevant totals.[44]: 94 [45]: 21 
  5. ^ a b Religions break up of 4,066,000 persons are not available as such those have been excluded from all relevant totals.[44]: 94 [45]: 21 
  6. ^ a b Religions break up of 2,224,000 persons are not available as such those have been excluded from all relevant totals.[44]: 94 [45]: 21 
  7. ^ a b c 1941 figure taken from census data by combining the total population of all districts (Lahore, Sialkot, Gujranwala, Sheikhupura, Gujrat, Shahpur, Jhelum, Rawalpindi, Attock, Mianwali, Montgomery, Lyallpur, Jhang, Multan, Muzaffargargh, Dera Ghazi Khan), one tehsil (Shakargarh – then part of Gurdaspur District), one princely state (Bahawalpur), and one tract (Biloch Trans–Frontier) in Punjab Province, British India that ultimately fell on the western side of the Radcliffe Line. See 1941 census data here:[46]: 42 
    Immediately following the partition of India in 1947, these districts and tract would ultimately make up the subdivision of West Punjab, which also later included Bahawalpur. The state that makes up this region in the contemporary era is Punjab, Pakistan.
  8. ^ a b c 1941 figure taken from census data by combining the total population of all districts (Dadu, Hyderabad, Karachi, Larkana, Nawabshah, Sukkur, Tharparkar, Upper Sind Frontier), and one princely state (Khairpur), in Sindh Province, British India. See 1941 census data here: [47]
  9. ^ a b c 1941 figure taken from census data by combining the total population of two districts (Mirpur and Muzaffarabad) and one Jagir (Poonch) in the Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir that ultimately would be administered by Pakistan, in the contemporary self-administrative territory of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. See 1941 census data here:[50]: 337–352 
  10. ^ a b c 1941 figure taken from census data by combining the total population of one district (Astore) and one agency (Gilgit) in the Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir that ultimately would be administered by Pakistan, in the contemporary administrative territory of Gilgit–Baltistan. See 1941 census data here:[50]: 337–352 
  11. ^ a b c d 1941 figure taken from census data by combining the total population of all administrative divisions that compose the region of contemporary Pakistan, including Punjab,[46]: 42 [g] Sindh,[47]: 28 [h] Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,[48]: 22  Balochistan,[49]: 13–18  Azad Jammu and Kashmir,[50]: 337–352 [i] and Gilgit–Baltistan.[50]: 337–352 [j]
  12. ^ Including Ad-Dharmis
  13. ^ a b Religious data only collected in North West Frontier Province, and not in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Total responses to religion includes North West Frontier Province, and total population includes both North West Frontier Province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, both administrative divisions which later amalgamated to become Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
  14. ^ 1901 figure taken from census data by combining the total population of all districts (Lahore, Sialkot, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Shahpur, Jhelum, Rawalpindi, Mianwali, Montgomery, Lyallpur (inscribed as the Chenab Colony on the 1901 census), Jhang, Multan, Muzaffargargh, Dera Ghazi Khan), one tehsil (Shakargarh – then part of Gurdaspur District), one princely state (Bahawalpur), and one tract (Biloch Trans–Frontier) in Punjab Province, British India that ultimately fell on the western side of the Radcliffe Line. See 1901 census data here: [60]: 34 
    Immediately following the partition of India in 1947, these districts and tract would ultimately make up the subdivision of West Punjab, which also later included Bahawalpur. The state that makes up this region in the contemporary era is Punjab, Pakistan.
  15. ^ 1911 figure taken from census data by combining the total population of all districts (Lahore, Sialkot, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Shahpur, Jhelum, Rawalpindi, Attock, Mianwali, Montgomery, Lyallpur, Jhang, Multan, Muzaffargargh, Dera Ghazi Khan), one tehsil (Shakargarh – then part of Gurdaspur District), one princely state (Bahawalpur), and one tract (Biloch Trans–Frontier) in Punjab Province, British India that ultimately fell on the western side of the Radcliffe Line. See 1911 census data here: [62]: 27 [63]: 27 
    Immediately following the partition of India in 1947, these districts and tract would ultimately make up the subdivision of West Punjab, which also later included Bahawalpur. The state that makes up this region in the contemporary era is Punjab, Pakistan.
  16. ^ 1921 figure taken from census data by combining the total population of all districts (Lahore, Sialkot, Gujranwala, Sheikhupura, Gujrat, Shahpur, Jhelum, Rawalpindi, Attock, Mianwali, Montgomery, Lyallpur, Jhang, Multan, Muzaffargargh, Dera Ghazi Khan), one tehsil (Shakargarh – then part of Gurdaspur District), one princely state (Bahawalpur), and one tract (Biloch Trans–Frontier) in Punjab Province, British India that ultimately fell on the western side of the Radcliffe Line. See 1921 census data here: [64]: 29 
    Immediately following the partition of India in 1947, these districts and tract would ultimately make up the subdivision of West Punjab, which also later included Bahawalpur. The state that makes up this region in the contemporary era is Punjab, Pakistan.
  17. ^ 1931 figure taken from census data by combining the total population of all districts (Lahore, Sialkot, Gujranwala, Sheikhupura, Gujrat, Shahpur, Jhelum, Rawalpindi, Attock, Mianwali, Montgomery, Lyallpur, Jhang, Multan, Muzaffargargh, Dera Ghazi Khan), one tehsil (Shakargarh – then part of Gurdaspur District), one princely state (Bahawalpur), and one tract (Biloch Trans–Frontier) in Punjab Province, British India that ultimately fell on the western side of the Radcliffe Line. See 1931 census data here: [65]: 277 
    Immediately following the partition of India in 1947, these districts and tract would ultimately make up the subdivision of West Punjab, which also later included Bahawalpur. The state that makes up this region in the contemporary era is Punjab, Pakistan.
  18. ^ 1931-1941 census: Including Ad-Dharmis
  19. ^ 1911-1941 census: Including Tribals, others, or not stated
    2017 census: Also includes Sikhs, Parsis, Baháʼís, others, and not stated
  20. ^ 1901 figure taken from census data by combining the total population of all districts (Karachi, Hyderabad, Shikarpur, Tharparkar, Upper Sind Frontier), and one princely state (Khairpur), in Sindh Province, British India. See 1901 census data here: [69]
  21. ^ 1911 figure taken from census data by combining the total population of all districts (Hyderabad, Karachi, Larkana, Sukkur, Tharparkar, Upper Sind Frontier), and one princely state (Khairpur), in Sindh Province, British India. See 1911 census data here: [70]
  22. ^ 1921 figure taken from census data by combining the total population of all districts (Hyderabad, Karachi, Larkana, Nawabshah, Sukkur, Tharparkar, Upper Sind Frontier), and one princely state (Khairpur), in Sindh Province, British India. See 1921 census data here: [71]
  23. ^ 1931 figure taken from census data by combining the total population of all districts (Hyderabad, Karachi, Larkana, Nawabshah, Sukkur, Tharparkar, Upper Sind Frontier), and one princely state (Khairpur), in Sindh Province, British India. See 1931 census data here: [72]
  24. ^ Including Federal Capital Territory (Karachi)
  25. ^ a b 1901 census: Enumerated as Hindus.
  26. ^ a b c d e f Pre-partition populations for religious data is for North-West Frontier Province only and excludes the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (both administrative divisions later merged to form Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2018), as religious data was not collected in the latter region at the time.
    1951, 1998, and 2017 populations for religious data combine the North-West Frontier Province and Federally Administered Tribal Areas, both administrative divisions which later merged to form Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2018.