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Ethnic Groups in Pakistan

About 98% of languages spoken in Pakistan are Indo-Iranian (sub-branches: 75% Indo-Aryan and 20% pure Iranian), a branch of Indo-European family of languages. Most languages of Pakistan are written in the Perso-Arabic script, with significant vocabulary derived from Arabic and Persian. Punjabi (Shahmukhi), Seraiki, Sindhi, Pashto, Urdu, Balochi, Kashmiri (Koshur), etc. are the general languages spoken within Pakistan. The majority of Pakistanis belong to various Indo-Aryan-speaking ethnic groups, while a large minority are various Iranic peoples and Dardic language groups. In addition, small groups language isolates such as Burusho and Brahui-speaking peoples also live in the country. The major ethnic groups of Pakistan in numerical size include: Punjabis, Pashtuns, Sindhis, Seraikis, Muhajirs, Balochis, Hindkowans, Chitralis and other smaller groups.

According to the last census in late 2008, the population comprises several main ethnic groups:

Smaller ethnic groups, such as Kashmiris, Hindkowans, Kalash, Burusho, Brahui, Khowar and Shina are mainly found in the northern parts of the country. The people of the Pothohar Plateau in northern Punjab, Potoharis are sometimes listed separately from Punjabis. This would tend to decrease the Punjabi population further.

After independence of Pakistan, Muslims from neighboring countries have settled and they speak many languages. In Karachi, Memons, Bohras and Ismailis speak Gujarati, Kutchi and Memoni languages. The Bengalis speak Bengali and Rohingyas speak Rohingya. These linguistic groups are adopting Urdu and are assimilating into Muhajir community.

Pakistan's census does not include the registered 1.7 million Afghan refugees from neighboring Afghanistan, who are mainly found in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) areas, with small numbers in the cities of Karachi and Quetta.[1] Around 2 million Muslim refugees from Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia (especially Bangladesh, Iran, Tajikistan, Africa, Sri Lanka, Burma, Arab countries) and other places are also found in Pakistan.

Major ethnic Groups of Pakistan

Punjabis in Pakistan are multi-ethnical group of people, and can be divided into sub-groups. They are natives of Greater Punjab. The Punjab has been conquered in the past by Arabs, Turks, Persians, Afghans and they have intermarried with the local population thus many of the clans claim origin from Arabs and Turks. One uniting factor among Punjabis is their Punjabi language. Punjabis have many different dialects and that depends in what region of Punjab they are from.

Pashtuns or Pakhtuns (sometimes Pathans) are Pakistan's second largest ethnic group that are native to the land principally west of the Indus River. However, they can be found in cities all throughout Pakistan. The largest urban population of Pashtuns is interestingly found in the city of Karachi with a total estimated population of about 4 million[citation needed], this is then followed by Peshawer, Quetta, Lahore in descending order. There are more than double the number of Pashtuns in Pakistan than they are in Afghanistan, where they are the largest ethnic group in the country(Afghanistan). Pashtuns practice a unique code of conduct referred to as Pashtunwali and are known for their tribal structure.

Sindhis are ancient people principally inhabiting the province of Sindh, Pakistan from where the river Indus (in ancient times revered to as Sindhus) runs and subsequently, from which they derive the name Sindh from. Believed to be the inheritors of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, Sindhis are heavily influenced by Balochis in Pakistan. Sindh also has considerable Arab and Persian influence. It is estimated 35-40% of Sindhis are of Baloch origin.

The Baloch are settled in Balochistan region of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Baloch are settled in Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab provinces of Pakistan. The Baloch constitute about 6% of Pakistani population while they constitute 44% of population in Balochistan. It is estimated 35-40% of Sindhis are of Baloch origin.

Muhajirs are a multi-ethnic community who are partly descended from Arabs, Persians, Afghans and Turks. The Muslims of Middle East and Central Asia have historically, travelled to South Asia as technocrats, bureaucrats, soldiers, traders, scientists, architects, teachers, theologians and Sufis during the Islamic Sultanates and Mughal Empire and settled permanently. Most Muhajirs have converted to Islam during the Muslim rule of South Asia under the influence of Sufis. It is estimated that around 30 to 35% of Muhajirs are of Pashtun heritage. The Muhajir community also includes peoples of Punjabi heritage. In broader terms, it also includes Memons, Bohras and Ismailis that spoke Gujarati, Kutchi and Memoni languages and are now assimilating into Muhajir community. The Bengali and Rohingya refugees in Karachi are also assimilating into Muhajir community. The uniting factors of Muhajirs are Islam and Urdu language.

The Seraikis are believed to be the transitional group of people between Punjabis and Sindhis. The Seraikis or Multani people are settled in southern Punjab. The Seraikis maintain that they have a separate language, Seraiki language, and culture but their language is often viewed as a dialect of Sindhi language in Sindh and Punjabi language in Punjab.

Minor ethnic groups of Pakistan

Hindkowans are believed to be the transitional group of people between Punjabis and Pashtuns. They are also known as Punjabi Pathans. Their traditional homeland are areas around Abbottabad in Hazara and Mianwali, Dera Ismail Khan and Dera Ghazi Khan, in Punjab and Kohat, Peshawar in the North-West Frontier Province . Peshawar City population is composed of indigenous people who speaks Hindkowans and Pashtuns who one or more generation ago start migrating to Peshawar.

Hazaras are a Persian speaking people residing in Quetta and as refugees in the Islamabad area. Genetically, the Hazara are primarily a mixture of eastern Eurasian and western Eurasian peoples. The genetic research suggests that they are closely related to the Mongols and the Uyghurs. The Pakistani Hazaras estimate population believed to be more than 200,000.

The Sheedis are African people brought during the Arab rule in Balochistan and Sindh provinces of Pakistan as soldiers and slaves were brought from Africa. The descendents are also called Makranis or Sheedis. The Sheedis (also called Habshi, from Arabic حبشي ḥabashi) are a Negroid people in Pakistan. They number around 150,000 in Pakistan.

Tajiks are a Persian-speaking people, with traditional homelands in present-day Afghanistan, Tajikistan, southern Uzbekistan, northern Pakistan and Uyghuristan in western China. The Pakistani Tajiks are estimated to be over 1 million. Tajiks of Pakistan are often considered similar group of people as Dardic/Chitrali people of Pakistan.

Baltis are an ethnic group of Tibetan descent with some Dardic admixture located in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan and Ladakh, a region in Kashmir; as well as scattered in Pakistan's major urban centres of Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad/Rawalpindi. The Balti language belongs to the Tibetan language family and is a sub-dialect of Ladakhi.[2] Balti, Ladakhi and Burig are mutually intelligible.




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