5418305 - Civil Society

Ethnic Groups:

In general percentages of population similar to linguistic groups: Punjabis:66percent, Sindhis:13 percent, Pakhtuns:10 percent, Baloch: 3 percent, Muhajirs: 7 percent, and other ethnic groups: 1 percent.


Urdu official language, but English in general use in government, military, business, and higher education. Punjabi 48%, Sindhi 12%, Siraiki 10%, Pashtu 8%, Urdu (official) 8%, Balochi 3%, Hindko 2%, Brahui 1%, English official and lingua franca Urdu of Pakistani and most government ministries), and other Dardack languages 8%.


About 97 percent of Pakistanis are Muslim, 77 percent of whom are Sunnis and 20 percent Shia; the remaining 3 percent of the population is divided equally among Christians, Hindus, and other religions.


It is a means of allying two extended families; romantic attachments have little role to play. The husband and wife are primarily representatives of their respective families in a contractual arrangement, which is typically negotiated between two male heads of household. It is fundamentally the parents’ responsibility to arrange marriages for their children, but older siblings may be actively involved if the parents die early or if they have been particularly successful in business or politics. The terms are worked out in detail and are noted, by law, at the local marriage registry.


Space is allocated to and used differently by men and women. For their protection and respectability, women have traditionally been expected to live under the constraints of purdah (purdah is Persian for curtain), most obvious in veiling. By separating women from the activities of men, both physically and symbolically, purdah creates differentiated male and female spheres.

It is practiced in various ways, depending on the family tradition, region, class, and rural or urban residence, but nowhere do unrelated men and women mix freely. Among wealthier Pakistanis, the urban or rural residence is less important than a family tradition in influencing whether women observe strict purdah and the type of veil they wear. In some areas, women simply observe “eye purdah”: they tend not to mix with men, but when they do, they avert their eyes when interacting with them.

Religious minorities:

Pakistan is a predominantly Muslim country. The number of all the non-Muslim minorities is 4.919 million in a population of 143 million (2002). These minorities are: Christians, with their largest pockets in Punjab; Hindus, with their largest pockets in Sindh; a small number of Parsis, mainly in the city of Karachi; a small number of Sikhs in Balochistan and NWFP; a small number of Bahais in some urban centres; pockets of indigenous people in Northern Areas and of scheduled castes in Sindh. These are distinct religious groups recognized as such since the British period. In 1974 Pakistan created a new religious minority, Ahmadis. There are also minority Muslim sects, such as Shias, Ismailis and Bohras, that are not treated as religious minorities.

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