Pakistan has a large, mostly rural population with a high rate of growth.Population: 233,500,636 (July 2020 est.). Provisional results of Pakistan's 2017 national census estimate the country's total population to be 207,774,000. South Asia — Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka — is home to about 25 percent of the world’s population. [Source: CIA World Factbook, 2020 =]

Pakistan is the world’s 5th most populous nation, behind China, India, the United States and Indonesia but ahead of Brazil, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia and all the nations in Europe. The population of Pakistan has increased fourfold since independence. It is expected to rise to 344.2 million in 2050. Two thirds of all the people in the Stans live Pakistan. The most populous Muslim nations in the world are in South and Southeast Asia: Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Malaysia.

Urban population: 37.2 percent of total population (2020). About 68 percent of the population lived in rural areas in 1994, a decrease of 7 percent since 1970. In contrast, the number of people living in urban areas has risen substantially, resulting in an urban growth rate of 4.6 percent between 1980 and 1991.

In early 1994, the population of Pakistan was estimated to be 126 million, making it the ninth most populous country in the world. Its land area, however, ranks thirty-second among nations. Thus Pakistan has about 2 percent of the world's population living on less than 0.7 percent of the world's land. The population growth rate is among the world's highest, officially estimated at 3.1 percent per year, but privately thought to be closer to 3.3 percent per year by many planners involved in population programs. Pakistan's population is expected to reach 150 million by 2000 and to account for 4 percent of the world's population growth between 1994 and 2004. Pakistan's population is expected to double between 1994 and 2022. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

These figures are estimates, however, because ethnic unrest led the government to postpone its decennial census in 1991. The government felt that tensions among Punjabis, Sindhis, muhajirs (immigrants or descendants of immigrants from India), Pakhtuns, and religious minorities were such that taking the census might provoke violent reactions from groups who felt they had been undercounted. The 1991 census had still not been carried out as of early 1994. The 1981 census enumerated 84.2 million persons.

Population Density and Distribution in Pakistan

Population density: 272 people square kilometer, 680 people per square mile (compared to 2 per square kilometer in Mongolia, 35 per square kilometer in the United States, and 511 in South Korea and 93 per square mile in the United States, and 2,890 per square mile in Bangladesh) Other densely populated countries include Singapore, Belgium, and the Netherlands. [Source: World Population Review]

The population density of Pakistan was estimated at 197 persons per square kilometer (510 per square mile) in 2005. According to Pakistan’s 1998 census, the overall population density was 166.3 persons per square kilometer, but provincial population densities range from 18.9 in Balochistan to 358.5 in Punjab. Furthermore, the population is clustered in the eastern provinces of Punjab and Sindh, which contain 78.6 percent of the total population. [Source: Library of Congress; World Population Review; Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations, Thomson Gale, 2007]

Pakistan's people are not evenly distributed throughout the country. The population density is very high in parts of Sindh and Punjab. There was an average of 146 persons per square kilometer in the 1990s, ranging from scarcely populated arid areas, especially in Balochistan, to some of the highest urban densities in the world in Karachi and Lahore. The barren uplands of Balochistan is the least inhabited area of the country. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

Population distribution: the Indus River and its tributaries attract most of the settlement, with Punjab province the most densely populated. This entry provides a summary description of the population dispersion within a country. While it may suggest population density, it does not provide density figures.

In 1998, 55.6 percent of the population lived in Punjab, 23.0 percent in Sindh, 13.4 percent in the NWFP, 5 percent in Baluchistan, 2.4 percent in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and 0.6 percent in the northern areas and the federal capital of Islamabad. According to the “Worldmark Encyclopedia of National Economies”: The provinces are, by and large, based on the 5 major ethnic groups prevalent in Pakistan. Punjabis live mainly in the fertile and most populous region, Punjab, in the center and east of the country. Sindhis live in the south; the Pashtuns share a common ethnic heritage with most Afghanis and live in the west. Baluchis live in the mountainous areas in the southwestern part of the country. Finally, the immigrants from India at the time of the partition and their descendants are called Muhajir (Muhajireen), after the Arabic term for immigrant.” [Source: “Worldmark Encyclopedia of National Economies”, The Gale Group Inc., 2002]

Age Structure of the Pakistani Population

Pakistan has a fast-growing population and huge number of young people, with 64 percent of the population below the age of 29 and 30 percent between 15 and 29 years. In 2004, 40.2 percent of the population was aged 14 or younger, 55.7 percent was 15–64 years of age, and only 4.1 percent of the population was 65 and older. [Source: Library of Congress, February 2005]

Population 14 and under: 35 percent (compared to 40 percent in Kenya, 19 percent in the United States and 13 percent in Japan). [Source: World Bank data.worldbank.org ]

Population 65 and above: 4 percent (compared to 3 percent in Kenya, 15 percent in the United States and 27 percent in Japan). [Source: World Bank data.worldbank.org ]

Age structure: 0-14 years: 36. 01 percent (male 42,923,925/female 41,149,694)
15-24 years: 19.3 percent (male 23,119,205/female 21,952,976)
25-54 years: 34.7 percent (male 41,589,381/female 39,442,046)
55-64 years: 5.55 percent (male 6,526,656/female 6,423,993)
65 years and over: 4.4 4 percent (male 4,802,165/female 5,570,595) (2020 est.) [Source: CIA World Factbook, 2020 =]

Dependency ratios: total dependency ratio: 64.4
youth dependency ratio: 57.2
elderly dependency ratio: 7. 1
potential support ratio: 14 (2020 est.)
Dependency ratios are a measure of the age structure of a population. They relate the number of individuals that are likely to be economically "dependent" on the support of others. Dependency ratios contrast the ratio of youths (ages 0-14) and the elderly (ages 65+) to the number of those in the working-age group (ages 15-64). Changes in the dependency ratio provide an indication of potential social support requirements resulting from changes in population age structures. =

Median age: total: 22 years
male: 21.9 years; compared with other countries in the world: 180

Population Growth in Pakistan

Population growth rate: 2.07 percent (2020 est.); compared with other countries in the world: 45. [Source: CIA World Factbook, 2020 =]

Birth rate: 27.4 births/1,000 population (2020 est.); compared with other countries in the world: 41. =

Death rate: Death rate: 6. 2 deaths/1,000 population (2020 est.); compared with other countries in the world: 156. =

Population doubling time: Conservatively estimated to be growing at an annual rate of 3.0 percent, one of the highest rates in the world, Pakistan's population could double in 27 years. If rates continue Pakistan could be the world’s third most populous nation behind Calcutta and Indian by 2050.

Net migration rate: -0.9 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2020 est.); compared with other countries in the world: 140.

A census was taken in Pakistan in 2017. Tim Worstall of Forbes wrote: “The results of Pakistan's 6th census have been released and they show that the country has 207 million people. From which we can deduce that Pakistan is still stuck in Malthusian growth, even if things are indeed getting better. There's nothing new or different about this of course, this is just how growth has near always been. Economic advance doesn't mean a substantial rise in standards of living, it just means more people, that's what we mean by Malthusian. It's the breaking out of that pattern which is the modern change, one that Pakistan still hasn't quite managed even though, as I say, things are getting better. [Source: Tim Worstall, Forbes, August 26, 2017]

Pakistan’s population has surged to a staggering 207.8 million, showing an increase of 75.4 million people in 19 years, according to provisional summary results of the 6th Population and Housing Census 2017. That's a swift increase as population matters go: The provisional results published by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics showed an average annual growth of 2.4 percent since 1998, when the total population was put at 132.35 million.Karachi’s population increased from 9.339 million to 14.91 million – a net addition of 5.56 million people– during the past 19 years. Trying to keep up with that sort of urban growth isn't easy. [Source: Tim Worstall, Forbes, August 26, 2017]

The government estimated the population at 152.8 million as of December 2004, not including 1.2 million refugees from Afghanistan (2002 estimate). From 1981 to 1998, population growth averaged nearly 2.7 percent annually. If this growth rate continues, the population will double approximately every 26 years. In 2000 Pakistan’s crude birthrate was 29.1 births per 1,000, and the total fertility rate was 4.3 births per woman. The infant mortality rate was 79.8 deaths per 1,000 live births, and the crude death rate was 7.8 deaths per 1,000. Life expectancy at birth was 64 years for males and 66 years for females. [Source: Library of Congress, February 2005 **]

Migration In and Out of Pakistan

Net migration rate: -0.9 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2020 est.); compared with other countries in the world: 140. This entry includes the figure for the difference between the number of persons entering and leaving a country during the year per 1,000 persons. An excess of persons entering the country is referred to as net immigration.; an excess of persons leaving the country as net emigration. The net migration rate indicates the contribution of migration to the overall level of population change. In 2005, the estimated net migration rate was –1.67 migrants per 1,000 population. Many of those who migrate out Pakistan are overseas workers. In 2003 worker remittances were US$3.9 billion. [Source: CIA World Factbook, 2020]

About six million Muslims migrated to Pakistan from India at the time of independence in 1947. Muslims have continued to arrive from India since then in but in much fewer numbers . The Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan in December 1979 led to an influx of Afghan refugees. At one point more than 2 million of them were living in Pakistan. Many of them returned when the violence subsided. After the Taliban captured Kabul in 1996 and Americans invaded in 2001, Afghan refugees fled again to Pakistan. [Source: Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations, Thomson Gale. 2007]

At its peak in 1990, there were 6.2 million Afghan refugees. They accounted for half of the refugees in the world. About half went to Pakistan and half went to Iran. The ones in Pakistan got more attention in the West because more Western journalists went to Pakistan than Iran. In 2001, there were about 1.2 million Afghan refugees living in camps and 800,000 living in Pakistani cities.

Migration and Urban Growth in Pakistan

Pakistan's cities are expanding much faster than the overall population. At independence in 1947, many refugees from India settled in urban areas. In the 1950s, more than one-half of the residents of several cities in Sindh and Punjab were muhajirs. Some refugee colonies were eventually recognized as cities in their own right. Between 1951 and 1981, the urban population quadrupled. The annual urban growth rate during the 1950s and 1960s was more than 5 percent. This figure dropped slightly in the 1970s to 4.4 percent. Between 1980 and early 1994, it averaged about 4.6 percent. By early 1994, about 32 percent of all Pakistanis lived in urban areas, with 13 percent of the total population living in three cities of over 1 million inhabitants each — Lahore, Faisalabad, and Karachi. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

The key reason for migration to urban areas has been the limited opportunity for economic advancement and mobility in rural areas. The economic and political control that local landlords exercise in much of the countryside has led to this situation. The urban migrant is almost invariably a male. He retains his ties with his village, and his rights there are acknowledged long after his departure. At first, the migration is frequently seen as a temporary expedient, a way to purchase land or pay off a debt. Typically, the migrant sends part of his earnings to the family he left behind and returns to the village to work at peak agricultural seasons. Even married migrants usually leave their families in the village when they first migrate. The decision to bring wife and children to the city is thus a milestone in the migration process.

As cities have grown, they have engulfed surrounding villages, bringing agriculturists into the urban population. Many of these farmers commute to urban jobs from their original homes. The focus of these individuals' lives remains their family and fellow villagers. Similarly, migrants from rural areas who have moved to the cities stay in close touch with relatives and friends who have also moved, so their loyalties reflect earlier patterns. The Pakistani city tends to recreate the close ties of the rural community.

Pakistani cities are diverse in nature. The urban topology reflects the varied political history within the region. Some cities dating from the medieval era, such as Lahore and Multan, served as capitals of kingdoms or small principalities, or they were fortified border towns prior to colonial rule. Other precolonial cities, such as Peshawar, were trading centers located at strategic points along the caravan route. Some cities in Sindh and Punjab centered on cottage industries, and their trade rivaled the premier European cities of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Under colonial rule, many of the older administrative cities declined. Where the British located a trading post (factory) near an existing administrative center, the city was typically divided into old and new, or European, sections. New towns and cities also emerged, especially in the expanding canal colonies, Faisalabad (formerly Lyallpur) is such a city. The economy and the population expanded greatly in the 1980s in a number of other cities. The most important of these are Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Wazirabad, and Sialkot in Punjab; Hyderabad in Sindh; and Peshawar and Mardan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly North-West Frontier Province).

Lahore, Pakistan's second largest city, contrasts markedly with Karachi. With just under half the population of Karachi, it is regarded as the cultural nucleus of Punjab. Residents of Lahore take special pride in their city's physical beauty, especially in its Mughal architecture, which includes the Badshahi Mosque, Shalimar Gardens, Lahore Fort, and Jahangir's tomb. In the earliest extant historical reference to the city, in A.D.630 the Chinese traveler Xuan Zang described it as a large Brahmanical city. A center of learning by the twelfth century, Lahore reached its peak in the sixteenth century, when it became the quintessential Mughal city — the "grand resort of people of all nations and a center of extensive commerce."

The nation's capital was situated in Karachi at independence. General Mohammad Ayub Khan, who assumed power in 1958, aspired, however, to build a new capital that would be better protected from possible attack by India and would reflect the greatness of the new country. In 1959 Ayub Khan decided to move the capital to the shadow of the Margalla Hills near Pakistan's third largest city, Rawalpindi. The move was completed in 1963, and the new capital was named Islamabad (abode of Islam). The population of Islamabad continues to increase rapidly, and the official 1991 estimate of just over 200,000 has probably been much exceeded.

Migration and Urban Growth in Karachi

The town of Karachi expanded rapidly to become a center of rail and sea transport as a consequence of British rule and as consequence of the opening of massive irrigation projects and the increase in agricultural exports. Thus, Pakistan's two largest cities, Karachi and Lahore, illustrate how differing regional and sociocultural histories have shaped the variations among Pakistan's cities. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

Karachi absorbed tens of thousands of muhajirs following independence in 1947, grew nearly two and one-half times from 1941 to 1951, and nearly doubled again in the following decade. Karachi is by far Pakistan's largest city and is still rapidly growing. In the early 1990s the population exceeded 10 million.

Karachi's rapid growth has been directly related to the overall economic growth in the country. The partition of British India into the independent states of Pakistan and India prompted an influx into Pakistan of Muslim merchants from various parts of the new, Hindu-majority India. These merchants, whom sociologist Hamza Alavi refers to as salariat, had money to invest and received unusual encouragement from the government, which wanted to promote the growth of the new state.

Karachi at first developed in isolation. Relatively few people from outlying areas were engaged in running its factories, and the city had little impact on Pakistan's cultural fabric. But when the economies of southern Sindh and parts of Punjab began to expand, large numbers of migrants flooded the city in search of work (generally low-paying jobs), and Karachi become the hub of the nation's commerce. The city, however, also has serious problems. It has the poorest slums in the country, and it suffers from serious interethnic conflict as a consequence of the influx of many competing groups. It was the site of considerable violence in the late 1980s as muhajirs solidified their local power base vis-à-vis the Pakhtuns and native Sindhis.

Impact of Migration to the Persian Gulf Countries

Pakistan had a severe balance of payments deficit in the 1970s. To deal with this deficit, as well as to strengthen ties with the Islamic states in the Middle East, the government of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto encouraged both skilled and unskilled men to work in the Persian Gulf countries. The government set up a program under the Ministry of Labour, Manpower, and Overseas Pakistanis to regulate this migration and also seconded military troops to many of the Gulf states. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

By the mid-1980s, when this temporary migration was at its height, there were estimated to be more than 2 million Pakistanis in the Persian Gulf states remitting more than US$3 billion every year. At the peak, the remittances accounted for almost half of the country's foreign-exchange earnings. By 1990 new employment opportunities were decreasing, and the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War forced many workers to return quickly to Pakistan. Workers have only slowly returned to the Gulf since the war ended.

The majority of the emigrants are working-class men, who travel alone, leaving their wives and children behind with their extended families in Pakistan. These men are willing to sacrifice years with their families for what they see as their only chance to escape poverty in a society with limited upward mobility. A study in the old quarter (the inner walled city) of Lahore in 1987 suggested that half of all working-class families had at least one close relative working in the Gulf. Families generally use the remittances for consumer goods, rather than investing in industry. The wage earner typically returns after five to ten years to live at home.

Although this migration has had little effect on Pakistan demographically, it has affected its social fabric. While a man is away from his family, his wife often assumes responsibility for many day-to-day business transactions that are considered the province of men in this traditional male-dominated society. Thus for the women involved, there is a significant change in social role. Among the men, psychologists have identified a syndrome referred to as "Dubai chalo" ("let's go to Dubai"). This syndrome, which manifests itself as disorientation, appears to result from social isolation, culture shock, harsh working conditions, and the sudden acquisition of relative wealth. Men often feel isolated and guilty for leaving their families, and the resultant sociopsychological stress can be considerable.

Impact of the War in Afghanistan

The presence of large numbers Afghan refugees has had a weighty impact on the demographics of Pakistan. After the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979, refugees began streaming over the borders into Pakistan. By 1990 approximately 3.2 million refugees had settled there, a decrease of about 90,000 from 1989. Previously uninhabited areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly North-West Frontier Province) and Balochistan had been settled by refugees during the 1980s. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that in 1990 there were 345 Afghan refugee villages. Of these, 68.5 percent were in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly North-West Frontier Province), 26.0 percent in Balochistan, and 5.5 percent in Punjab. Each village housed an average of 10,000 people, and women and children accounted for 75 percent of the refugee population. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

The influx of refugees has had profound social consequences, and the population of desert areas has also had an effect on the environment. Initially, Pakistanis wanted to help their neighbors in a time of need, but difficulties slowly led many to think that their friendship had gone far enough. Among the problems were inflation, a dearth of low-paying jobs because these were taken by refugees, and a proliferation of weapons, especially in urban areas. The escalation of animosity between refugees and Pakistanis, particularly in Punjab, caused the government to restrict the refugees' free movement in the country in the mid1980s .

To assist Pakistan in preventing conflict by keeping the refugees separate from the local population, the UNHCR placed restrictions on disbursements of food and other goods in its refugee camps in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly North-West Frontier Province) and in Balochistan. Since the 1989 end of the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan, the UNHCR, the Pakistan government, and an array of NGOs have encouraged the refugees to return home, but until internecine fighting in Afghanistan stops, many will elect to remain in Pakistan. In early 1994, the number of Afghan refugees still residing in Pakistan was estimated at 1.4 million, according to Amnesty International. More than 2 million Afghan refugees also remained in Iran.

Pakistan Holds its First Census in 19 Years in 2017

Aoun Sahi, Zulfiqar Ali and Shashank Bengali wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “Like many countries, Pakistan allocates federal resources to its provinces and administrative regions based on population. Trouble is, Pakistan’s last census took place nearly two decades ago, and insecurity and political wrangling have stalled efforts to carry out a fresh head count. [Source: Aoun Sahi, Zulfiqar Ali, Shashank Bengali, Los Angeles Times, March 21, 2017]

In March 2017, “Pakistan launched a national census for the first time in 19 years, deploying 200,000 soldiers alongside 118,000 civilian enumerators in an effort to count and compile demographic data on every person.The census will not only count the population and ethnic and faith groups in each of the country’s four provinces and other administrative units. It will also determine provincial shares of federal revenue and subsidies, as well as shares of seats in the National Assembly and civil service quotas. Transgender people will also be counted for the first time, officials said. “We will be able to share provisional summary results of the data by the end of July,” said Asif Bajwa, Pakistan’s chief census commissioner.

“In a country with desperate shortages of electricity and other basic infrastructure, experts say a fresh count is badly needed. The constitution requires a census every 10 years. Pakistan’s population is estimated to have grown by as much as 40 percent since the last census, in 1998, counted 130 million people. “Since then the country is being run on guesstimates,” said Abid Suleri, head of the Sustainable Development Policy Institute, a think tank in Islamabad, the capital. “The best plans and policies fail to deliver, partially, when we do not have our numbers right. It is like stitching someone’s clothes without knowing the age, height, weight and measurements.”

“The census is expected to cost Pakistan about US$178 million. The government has no mechanism to collect accurate census figures in the absence of the local population, who were forced to migrate to other parts of the country,” said Balochistan National Party leader Ghulam Nabi Marri. In response to the lawsuit, a provincial court directed authorities to exclude Afghan refugees from the census.

Problems with 2017 Pakistan Census

Aoun Sahi, Zulfiqar Ali and Shashank Bengali wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “But even before door-to-door counting began last week, the census stirred controversy as women’s rights groups, smaller provinces and ethnic and religious minorities voiced concerns over the process. Despite acknowledging that the 1998 census undercounted women and girls, officials this year did not appoint any female census workers, according to Sarwar Bari, a human rights activist in Islamabad. In many areas, male census workers would not be able to interview women because of religious and cultural taboos, Bari said. “There is not even a single female enumerator appointed in Punjab, the largest province of the country,” Bari said. “Male enumerators will face problems in counting women.” [Source: Aoun Sahi, Zulfiqar Ali, Shashank Bengali, Los Angeles Times, March 21, 2017]

“Ethnic Baloch and Pashtun political parties, which have long agitated for greater autonomy from the federal government, fear that officials in Punjab will attempt to manipulate census figures to maintain the province’s large share of national resources and political clout. “The census has become a political — in fact a politicized — issue in Pakistan,” Suleri said. Currently, Punjab holds 183 seats in the 342-member assembly, meaning it can unilaterally elect the prime minister. The current prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, hails from Punjab. “The federal government had planned to manipulate census figures to maintain the hegemony of Punjab over smaller provinces,” said Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the general secretary of the Awami National Party, a Pashtun nationalist party.

“The party also complained that census data from its heartland in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and the adjacent tribal region would be counted in Islamabad because of a lack of equipment locally. “We believe that [bad faith] intentions are involved,” Hussain said, adding that ethnic Pashtuns might not accept the census results. In the federally administered tribal areas, lawmakers have raised concerns that their population will be undercounted because residents have fled their homes to escape Pakistani counter-terrorism operations and U.S. drone strikes against suspected militants. Residents of the Orakzai tribal region boycotted the campaign for two days, saying that census takers were going to areas that residents had vacated years ago.

“In the southwestern province of Balochistan, Pakistan’s poorest, some lawmakers filed a lawsuit to stop the census, saying they feared that thousands of mainly ethnic Pashtun refugees from Afghanistan — many of whom have lived there for more than three decades — would mistakenly be included in the count. Afghans in Pakistan are often accused of carrying fake citizenship documents to avoid deportation. The presence of the refugees — and the fact that many ethnic Baloch have migrated to other provinces — could make the Baloch a minority in the province that is their heartland, according to the lawsuit by the Balochistan National Party.

“In several provinces, leaders of the Sikh community have objected to their faith being left off the census forms. Sikhs, whose religion was founded five centuries ago in what is now Pakistan, have to list themselves as members of “other” religions. There has never been an accurate count of the Sikh population of Pakistan, which is estimated to be in the tens of thousands. There are about 20 million Sikhs in neighboring India. It would mean “total disrespect to the community if their religion is not mentioned and they remain unrecognized in a land which means the most to them,” Sardar Ramesh Singh, leader of the Pakistan Sikh Council, told the daily Dawn newspaper.

Pashtun Population

The Pashtuns (Pathans) are an ethnic group that live in western and southern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan and whose homeland is in the valleys of Hindu Kush. There are about 60-70 million Pashtun with around 43 million in Pakistan, 15.5 million in Afghanistan and a million or so more scattered in a dozen or so countries, including India, the U.S., Finland and Germany. Pashtuns make up 50 percent of the population in Afghanistan. They are believed to have made up a larger percentage at one time but lost many members in the war against the Soviets. They make up about a quarter of the population of Pakistan, mostly in the North-West Frontier province near the Afghanistan border.

In both Afghanistan and Pakistan, many Pashtun have moved to the cities in serach of work. Their exact numbers are not known because no accurate censuses have been taken in the areas where they live. There are also some Pashtuns in area of India such as Rampur (Rohilla) and Mumbai (Bombay).

Akbar S. Ahmed wrote in the “Encyclopedia of World Cultures”: “The 1984 population of Pashto speakers was approximately 20 million. This includes 11 million native to Pakistan and 9 million originating in Afghanistan. Because of the civil war that has persisted in Afghanistan since 1979, roughly 2 million Pashtuns have left for Pakistan as refugees. The Pashtun constituted from 50 to 60 percent of the population of prewar Afghanistan. As the largest and most influential ethnic group, the Pashtun have dominated the society and politics of that country for the past 200 years. Other Important ethnic minorities in Afghanistan include the Hazaras, Tajiks, and Uzbeks. Since the separation of Bangladesh from Pakistan, the Pashtun constitute Pakistan's second-largest ethnic group. According to Pakistan's 1981 census 13 percent of the nation's households are Pashto-speaking. Punjabis make up the majority of Pakistan's population; other important linguistic groups are Sindhis, Baloch, and Urdu speakers. [Source: Akbar S. Ahmed with Paul Titus “Encyclopedia of World Cultures Volume 3: South Asia,” edited by Paul Hockings, 1996 |~|]

Baloch Population

The Baloch, also know the Balochi, Baluch or Baluchi, are an ethnic group that live primarily in the sandy plains, deserts and barren mountains of southeast Iran, southwest Pakistan and southern Afghanistan.

The population of Balochistan province is 12.4 million people of which about 52 percent are Baloch and 36 percent Pashtun. About 80 percent of the Baloch population in Pakistan lives Balochistan province in Pakistan. The remaining 12 percent is made of significant communities of Brahuis and Hazaras as well Sindhi, Punjabi, Uzbek and Turkmen settlers. [Source: Wikipedia +].

There are believed to be around 10 million Baloch, with 6.8 million of them in Pakistan, but accurate numbers of them are difficult to ascertain because of the unreliability of census-taking methods in Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan and the fact that some culturally distinct groups speak Baloch. There are also a large number of Baloch that live in the Sindh and Punjab and the emirates of the Persian Gulf. [Source: Nancy E. Gratton,“Encyclopedia of World Cultures Volume 3: South Asia,” edited by Paul Hockings, 1992 |~|]

There are 1.5 million to 2 million Baloch within the borders of Iran, and 500,000 to 2 million more in Afghanistan. The populations of Baloch in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran can change due to climate, season, politics, warfare, and separatist activity. There are also around 100,000 Baloch in Turkmenistan and between 500,000 and 1 million in the Persian Gulf states, mainly the United Arab Emirates. +

According to the “Encyclopedia of World Cultures”: “Population Baloch are somewhat suspect partly because the criteria Baloch identity are not tightly defined. On the strength of linguistic criteria, there are an estimated Baloch speakers living in eastern Iran, southern Afghanistan, and in Pakistan. Baloch have in some areas become linguistically assimilated to neighboring peoples while retaining a Baloch cultural identity; this means that if sociocultural rather than purely linguistic criteria were used, the population count could easily be higher. Baloch have migrated to Pakistan's Sindh and Punjab provinces, and to the emirates of the Persian Gulf. “ |~|

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (tourism.gov.pk), Official Gateway to the Government of Pakistan (pakistan.gov.pk), The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Wikipedia and various books, websites and other publications.

Last updated February 2022

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