Pakistan is a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and predominantly Muslim society. Ninety-seven per cent of the the140 million people in Pakistan are Muslims. The population is made up of different ethnic groups, such as dominant Punjabis, Siraikis, Sindhis, Pakhtuns, Baloch, Brahvis, Kashmiris, Hazaras, Urdu-speaking immigrants from India or Mohajirs, Gojars, Kohistanis, Chitralis, and a dozen or so Dardic languages-speaking lingo-ethnic groups.
The official language is English, and most of the urban people can understand and speak Urdu as well. However, Urdu is the mother tongue of only seven per cent of the population. The other main languages are Sindhi, Punjabi, Pushto, Balochi, Siraiki, and Brahvi.
More than half the working population is involved in agriculture and live in rural areas. Manufacturing, mining, and service industries are the other large employers in the urban sectors. Many people go abroad in search of work.
Race as such plays little part in defining regional or group identity in Pakistan, and no ideal racial type is accepted by all Pakistanis. However, ethno-lingual processes over the centuries have helped developed nationalities and ethno-lingual groups who have a deep sense of identity, psychological make-up, commonality of language and area and belonging to certain regions of Pakistan. The population is a complex mixture of indigenous peoples, many racial types having been introduced by successive waves of migrations from the northwest, as well as by internal migrations across the subcontinent of India. Aryans, Persians, Greeks, Pathans (Pashtuns), and Mughals came from the northwest and spread across the Indo-Gangetic Plain, while the Arabs conquered Sindh. All left their mark on the population and culture of the land. During the long period of Muslim rule, immigrants from the Middle East were brought in and installed as members of the ruling oligarchy. It became prestigious to claim descent from them, and many members of the landed gentry and of upper-class families are either actually or putatively descended from such immigrants.
Pakhtoon designates a person who speaks Pukhtu. Pathan is a Hindi term adopted for them by the British. The racial composition of the Pukhtoons is less than clear. The tribes who dwelled in the area in the days of the Greek historians are believed to be part of the great Aryan horde which had moved down from Central Asia a millennium earlier. Over the course of centuries, the Greek, Persian, Turk, and Mongol invaders who passed through the Frontier have added their blood. Nearly one-third of the population of NWFP is non-Pakhtoon. In the tribal areas, they are called Hamsaya or Kadwal. In the border areas of Hazara and Derajat, social norms more closely resembling those in Punjab and Kashmir may be discerned.
Baloch are a group of tribes speaking the Balochi language and estimated at about 8,800,000 inhabitants in the province of Balochistan in Pakistan and also neighbouring areas of Iran, Afghanistan, Bahrain, and Punjab (India). In Pakistan, the Balochi people are divided into two groups, the Sulaimani and the Makrani, separated from each other by a compact block of Brahui tribes.
The original Balochi homeland probably lay on the Iranian plateau. The Balochi were mentioned in Arabic chronicles of the 10th century AD. The old tribal organization is best preserved among those inhabiting the Sulaiman Mountains. Each tribe (tuman) consists of several clans and acknowledges one chief, even though in some tuman there are clans in habitual opposition to the chief.
Sindh has a very glorious past. The richness of its history and culture has always attracted scholars of the country and abroad for the study of all aspects of Sindhi life and its ethos.
Historically the roots of Sindhi culture and civilization go back to a hoary past. Archaeological researches during the 19th and 20th centuries A.D., showed the roots of social life, religion and culture of the people of the Sindh- their agricultural practices, traditional arts and crafts, customs and tradition etc. going back to a ripe and mature Indus valley civilization of the third millennium B.C. Recent researches have traced the richness of the Indus valley civilization, to even earlier ancestry.
Sindhi culture can truly lay claim to being one of the oldest known to man, surpassing certain shades and colours even those of Egypt, Mesopotamia and China.
An important aspect of Punjabi ethnicity is reciprocity at the village level. A man’s brother is his friend, his friend is his brother, and both enjoy equal access to his resources. Traditionally, a person has virtually free access to a kinsman’s resources without foreseeable payback. This situation results in social networks founded on local (kinship-based) group needs as opposed to individual wants. These networks in turn perpetuate not only friendly relations but also the structure of the community itself. There is great social pressure on an individual to share and pool such resources as income, political influence, and personal connections. Kinship obligations continue to be central to a Punjabi’s identity and concerns. Distinctions based on qaum remain significant social markers, particularly in rural areas