Pakistan Population and Language
Pakistan is the world’s sixth most populous country, but its residents are unevenly geographically distributed. Among several different peoples, the Punjabi is clearly the largest. Pakistan may host almost three million Afghan refugees, one of the largest refugee populations in the world.
The population of Pakistan is young and growing rapidly. More than half of the residents are under 25 years of age. According to the World Bank, the country has the highest birth rate in South Asia. On average, a Pakistani woman has three children.
- COUNTRYAAH.COM: Key populations estimated size and data of Pakistan, including population density of how many people per square mile. Also included are facts for population and language.
More than a third of the population are city dwellers. A rapid move in to the big cities, where many hope to find work and a better life than in the countryside.
The mountain areas in the west and north are sparsely populated, while over half the population lives in fertile Punjab in the east, the base of the military and state administration.
The largest group of people is Punjabi, who speaks Punjabi. The Sindhis in the south, who speak Sindhi, and the Pashtuns of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are second largest and about the same size. The language of the Pashtuns is called Pashto and belongs to the Iranian language group, like Baluchi, spoken by the Baluchs.
The predominant languages Punjabi and Sindhi belong to the Indian language group, like Urdu, which is the country’s official language but mother tongue for fewer than one in ten residents. Urdu grew up during the Persian-influenced empires in the 16th and 16th centuries and is strongly associated with Islam. Both the Iranian and Indo-native languages belong to the Indo-European language family.
The Urdu-speaking Mohajirs are descendants of Muslims from present-day India who moved to Pakistan at the partition of the country in 1947. Most Mohajis live in Sindh, where their claims of increased political influence led to widespread unrest in the 1980s and 1990s. The Saraikis are a mixture of Punjabi and Pashtuns in the area around the city of Multan.
Millions of Afghan refugees
In the 1980s, Pakistan received about three million Afghan refugees. More came during the civil war in Afghanistan in the 1990s. Between 2002, when the Taliban regime collapsed in Afghanistan, and in the spring of 2018, 4.3 million Afghans returned to their homeland, but according to the UN agency, 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees remained in Pakistan, which is estimated to house between 600,000 and one million unregistered Afghan refugees. Many of the refugees are born in Pakistan but are still considered Afghans. According to the UNHCR, Pakistan has “one of the most extensive and long-standing refugee situations in the world”. The authorities have recently tightened border control and carried out raids against paperless refugees. The UN has distributed cash grants to the Afghans who return voluntarily.
About six million Pakistanis work abroad, mainly around the Persian Gulf and in the Middle East, where they are most often found in the oil industry or construction industry. A large number of Pakistanis are also found in Western Europe, especially in the United Kingdom.
Most Pakistani languages are written in Arabic or Persian. English is spoken by the educated elite and is often used within the central government administration.
FACTS – POPULATION AND LANGUAGE
Punjabi, Pashtuner, Sindhier, Saraikier, Mohajirer, Balucher and others
Number of residents
197 015 955 (2017)
Number of residents per square kilometer
Percentage of residents in the cities
36.4 percent (2017)
Nativity / birth
28.2 per 1000 residents (2016)
Mortality / mortality
7.3 per 1000 residents (2016)
2.0 percent (2017)
3.5 number of births per woman (2016)
Percentage of women
48.6 percent (2017)
66 years (2016)
Life expectancy for women
68 years (2016)
Life expectancy for men
66 years (2016)
official language is Urdu; other important languages are Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashto, Saraiki, Baluchi and English.
Bordered in protest against US drones
One of two supply routes for NATO-led troops in Afghanistan across the border with Pakistan is blocked by people in protest of US drone attacks. PTI leader Imran Khan is the initiator of the blockade, which he says will last until the drone attacks cease.
Notorious leader takes over Taliban movement
Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud is killed by an American drone in North Waziristan. The government condemns the attack that occurs just when peace talks are to begin with the Taliban. New infamous Taliban leaders are appointed the notorious mule Fazlullah (see Pashtun clan areas) and the planned peace talks are put on ice.
Many dead in drone attacks since 2008
According to the Pakistani Ministry of Defense, 67 civilians have been killed in the US drone attacks since 2008. During the same period, 2 160 members of militant groups have also been killed. No casualties have been claimed since the beginning of 2012. The figures are significantly lower than those reported by independent organizations.
Amounts of dead in new violent assaults
Over 80 people are killed and more than 120 injured when two suicide bombers blow themselves up in the air at a church in Peshawar. The attack is described as a revenge for the US drone attacks. The victims are mainly Christian. In the days that followed, at least 60 people were killed in the Peshawar attacks. The government blames the Taliban and decides to form a special force with the task of tackling terrorism in the region of Peshawar.
Peace dialogue with the Taliban
The government receives broad political support, including from the opposition, for an initiative to seek a peace dialogue with the domestic Taliban movement TTP. Previous attempts in that direction have failed.
Afghan Taliban are released
Pakistan releases seven imprisoned Afghan Taliban in what is described as an attempt to promote a peace process in the neighboring country. At the end of the month, the Taliban’s former second highest leader, Abdul Ghani Baradar, will also be released. In 2012, 26 Taliban were released from Pakistani prisons for the same purpose.
Musharraf is charged with the Bhutto murder
President Musharraf is charged with three counts in connection with the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December 2007: murder, stamping to murder and facilitating murder. A number of other charges have also been brought against Musharraf, including for the murder of a clan leader in Baluchistan and the murder of a religious leader. Musharraf has previously denied the allegations and said the charges are politically motivated.
New explosions in Quetta
About 30 people are killed and about 50 injured in an explosive attack in Quetta. The following day, nine people were shot dead and 27 were shot dead when they leave a mosque in the same city.
PML-N’s candidate becomes president
The Electoral Assembly (see Political system) elects PML-N’s candidate Mamnoon Hussain as the country’s twelfth president. He has only one counter-candidate from the PTI party, since the PPP boycotted the election in protest of being laid off a week ago.
Hundreds of prisoners are acquitted by Taliban
About 100 Taliban dressed in police uniforms release about 250 prisoners from a prison in Dera Ismail Khan in northwestern Pakistan. The attackers rupture the prison walls. About 50 of the runaways are described as “hard-line militant Islamists”.
Dozens of dead in suicide in Kurram
At least 57 people are killed and 150 injured, including about 10 seriously, when suicide bombers detonate two explosive charges at a marketplace in the town of Parachinar in the Kurram clan area near the Afghan border. It is unclear who is behind the death.
Ten mountaineers are killed by Taliban
A group of Taliban storm a hotel in the base camp at the country’s second highest peak, Nanga Parbat in Gilgit-Baltistan, killing ten climbers in revenge for the death of Taliban leader Waliur Rehman Mehsud (see May 2013).
Switzerland: ‘investigation against Zardari closed’
Switzerland announces that the corruption suspicions against President Zardari are prescriptive and that the investigation is therefore closed (see, inter alia, September 2012).
Two more healthcare workers are murdered
Two healthcare workers are shot to death in the Swabi district in the northwest. They worked on the vaccination campaign against polio.
Nawaz Sharif forms government
The newly elected parliament is inaugurated in Islamabad on June 1. With the support of three small parties and an independent member, PML-N receives over half of the seats. On June 5, PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif will take over as new prime minister. Two days later, a new government is installed. There are no women among the 20 ministers. The government must prioritize improving the country’s economy and strengthening the security situation.
High-ranking Taliban leaders are killed
Waliur Rehman Mehsud, the second highest leader in the Pakistani Taliban movement, is killed in a US drone attack at the end of the month. Pakistan’s foreign ministry condemns the attack and claims it violates the country’s sovereignty.
Violent Election Day – PML-N wins
Despite a huge security push, election day is also becoming violent. According to EU election observers, 64 people are killed. Still, voter turnout is comparatively high, about 55 percent compared to 44 percent in 2008. PML-N wins a clear victory, just a haircut from gaining its own majority. PPP backs sharply, while Pakistan’s Justice Movement (PTI), led by former cricket star Imran Khan, enters Parliament for the first time and becomes the third largest party.
Taliban violence campaign continues
Taliban groups continue to target a systematic campaign of violence against secular parties throughout the electoral movement. More than 100 people were killed during the period. Former Prime Minister Gilani’s son is kidnapped in the city of Multan. Son Ali Haider Gilani is running for PPP in the provincial elections in Punjab.
The prosecutor in the investigation of the Bhutto murder is murdered
Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali, supreme prosecutor in the investigation into the murder of Benazir Bhutto, was shot dead.
The violence before the election is increasing
In one week, at least 25 people are killed in five explosions in Karachi alone, where sectarian violence has long characterized the cityscape. Altogether, more than 60 people are killed and many others are injured in election-related violence in April. The most vulnerable are people who support or work for moderate political parties in and near the clan areas in the northwest.
Suicide bombing against election
Nearly 20 people are killed when a Taliban suicide bomber attacks an election held by the secular National Awami Party (ANP) party in Peshawar. The party is one of three secular parties that the Taliban have said will oppose the electoral movement. The other two are PPP and the regional MQM in Karachi. All three were members of the government that resigned in March. ANP governs Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where the Taliban movements are very active. More than 700 ANP activists have, according to the BBC, been killed by snipers and suicide bombers over the past four years.
Musharraf is forbidden to stand in the election
Musharraf is arrested and placed under house arrest. Later this month, a court bans him from participating in political work for the rest of his life. He is therefore not allowed to run for election.
Musharraf returns from exile
Former president and coup maker Pervez Musharraf returns to Pakistan after four years of self-imposed exile. He returns to lead his party APML in the electoral movement, despite being charged with, among other things, stamping on the murder of Benazir Bhutto and for illegally dismissing high ranking judges.
The government resigns in accordance with the constitution
Parliament is dissolved before the general elections announced until 11 May. A few days later, the government resigns and is replaced by an unpolitical transitional government led by retired judge Mir Hazar Khan Khoso. The PPP government will be the first democratically elected government in the country’s history to sit for a full term.
Nearly 50 Shia Muslims are killed
Nearly 50 people are killed in a blast in a Shiite-dominated area in Karachi. No person or group is to blame for the act, but Sunni extremists are suspected.
Just over 100 dead in new attack against Shia Muslims
Another attack is targeted at the country’s Shiite Muslim minority when more than 100 people are killed and about as many injured in a blast at a marketplace in Quetta. The Supreme Court calls on the responsible authorities to put forward a strategy on how to protect the country’s Shiite minority more effectively. By the end of the month, more than 200 Shia Muslims, of whom the majority have been killed, have been killed in attacks so far this year. In 2012, more than 400 Shia Muslims, mainly Hazarians, were killed in such attacks.
March against the corruption
Sunni Muslim minister Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, known as an anti-corruption activist, is leading a march with thousands of participants from Lahore to Islamabad demanding the resignation of the government.
The prime minister is suspected of corruption
The Supreme Court orders that Prime Minister Ashraf be arrested. He is suspected of corruption during his time as Minister of Water and Energy in 2010. Ashraf denies crime.
The governor takes over the government of Baluchistan
As a result of the attacks in Quetta, Baluchistan’s Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani is dismissed and the province is placed directly under the governor’s rule.
Over 90 dead in explosion in Quetta
The Baluchistan provincial capital of Quetta is affected by a series of explosions. More than 80 people are killed and at least 120 injured when two coordinated blasts are performed in a pool hall. Earlier in the day, at least eleven people were killed and nearly 30 injured in a suicide attack in a market in the city. Most of the victims are Shia Muslims.
Nine relief workers are killed
Another nine people (seven working in health care, two of them with the polio campaign) are killed. Police suspect the same Taliban grouping that in December 2012 killed nine employees in a vaccination program.