Ethnic groups in Karachi

The ethnic groups in Karachi includes all the ethnic groups in Pakistan. Karachi's inhabitants, locally known as Karachiites, are composed of ethno-linguistic groups from all parts of Pakistan, as well as migrants from South Asia, making the city's population a diverse melting pot. At the end of the 19th century, the population of the city was about 105,000, with a gradual increase over the next few decades, reaching more than 400,000 on the eve of independence. Estimates of the population range from 15 to 18 million,[1][2] of which an estimated 90% are migrants from different backgrounds. The city's population is estimated to be growing at about 5% per year (mainly as a result of internal rural-urban migration), including an estimated 45,000 migrant workers coming to the city every month from different parts of Pakistan.[3]

The independence of Pakistan in 1947 saw the settlement of Muslim refugees fleeing from anti-Muslim pogroms from India. In Karachi, the Urdu speaking Muslims, now known as Muhajirs form the majority of the population.[4] The Muslim refugees lost all their land and properties in India when they fled and some were partly compensated by properties left by Hindus that migrated to India. The Muslim Gujaratis, Konkani, Hyderabadis, Marathi, Rajasthani, Punjabi fled India and settled in Karachi. There is also a sizable community of Malayali Muslims in Karachi (the Mappila), originally from Kerala in South India.[5] The non-Urdu speaking Muslim refugees from India now speak the Urdu language and have assimilated and are considered as Muhajirs.[citation needed]

The Pashtuns, originally from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Afghanistan, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and northern Balochistan, are now the city's second largest ethnic group after Muhajirs, these Pashtuns are settled in Karachi from decades.[6][7][8] With as high as 7 million by some estimates, the city of Karachi in Pakistan has the largest concentration of urban Pakhtun population in the world, including 50,000 registered Afghan refugees in the city,[9][10] meaning there are more Pashtuns in Karachi than in any other city in the world.[11] As per current demographic ratio Pashtuns are about 25% of Karachi's population.[12] Seraikis from southern Punjab have also settled in Karachi in large numbers.

After the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, thousands of Biharis and Bengalis from Bangladesh arrived in the city, and today Karachi is home to 1 to 2 million ethnic Bengalis from Bangladesh (see Bangladeshis in Pakistan),[13][14] many of whom migrated in the 1980s and 1990s. They were followed by Rohingya Muslim refugees from western Burma (for more information, see Burmese people in Pakistan),[15] and Asian refugees from Uganda. One under-privileged sub-ethnic group is the Siddis (Africans – Sheedi) who are now naturalised Sindhi speakers. They are descended from African slaves.[16] Many other refugees from the Central Asian countries constituting the former Soviet Union have also settled in the city as economic migrants. A large numbers of Arabs, Filipinos and an economic elite of Sinhalese from Sri Lanka.[17] Expatriates from China have a history going back to the 1940s; today, many of the Chinese are second-generation children of immigrants who came to the city and worked as dentists, chefs and shoemakers.[17][18]

Karachi is host to many Western expatriates in Pakistan. During the World War II, about 3,000 Polish refugees from Soviet Union evacuated to Karachi, by the British. Some of these Polish families settled permanently in the city.[19][20] There are also communities of American[21] and British expatriates.

According to the last official census of the country, which was held in 1998, the linguistic distribution of the city was: Urdu: 48.52%; Punjabi: 13.94%; Pashto: 11.42%; Sindhi: 7.22%; Balochi: 4.34%; Saraiki: 2.11%; others: 12.44%. The others include Dari, Gujarati, Dawoodi Bohra, Memon, Marwari, Brahui, Makrani, Khowar, Burushaski, Arabic, Farsi and Bengali.[22][23]

According to the community leaders and social scientists there are over 1.6 million Bengalis and up to 400,000 Rohingyas living in Karachi.[24] The small ethno-linguistic groups settled in Karachi are being assimilated in the Urdu-speaking Muhajir community.[25]

According to the census of 1998, the religious breakdown of the city was: Muslim (96.45%); Christian (2.42%); Hindu (0.86%); Ahmadiyya (0.17%); others (0.10%) (Parsis, Sikhs, Bahá'ís, Jews and Buddhists).[26]

Rank Language 1998 census[27] Speakers 1981 census Speakers
1 Urdu 48.52% 4,497,747 54.34% 2,830,098
2 Punjabi 13.94% 1,292,335 13.64% 710,389
3 Pashto 11.42% 1,058,650 8.71% 453,628
4 Sindhi 7.22% 669,340 6.29% 327,591
5 Balochi 4.34% 402,386 4.39% 228,636
6 Saraiki 2.12% 195,681 0.35% 18,228
7 Others 12.44% 1,153,126 12.27% 639,560
All 100% 9,269,265 100% 5,208,132

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "The Urban Frontier—Karachi". NPR. 2 June 2008. Retrieved 17 January 2010.
  2. ^ "Karachi population to hit 27.5 million in 2020". Dawn. 10 July 2007. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  3. ^ "Karachi turning into a ghetto". Dawn. 16 January 2006. Archived from the original on January 7, 2010. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  4. ^ "Karachi violence stokes renewed ethnic tension". IRIN Asia. Retrieved 2007-05-17.
  5. ^ Where Malayalees once held sway, DNA India
  6. ^ Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (2009-07-17). "Karachi's Invisible Enemy". PBS. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
  7. ^ "In a city of ethnic friction, more tinder". The National. 2009-08-24. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
  8. ^ "Aghans in Karachi" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-07-28. Retrieved 2014-10-24.
  9. ^ "Columnists | The Pakhtun in Karachi". Time. 28 August 2010. Retrieved 8 September 2011.
  10. ^ "Report: Demographic divide by Zia Ur Rehman". Archived from the original on 9 December 2012. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  11. ^ "UN body, police baffled by minister's threat against Afghan refugees". Dawn Media Group. 10 February 2009. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
  12. ^ "Report: Demographic divide by Zia Ur Rehman". Archived from the original on 2012-12-09. Retrieved 2014-10-24.
  13. ^ "Falling back". Daily Times. Archived from the original on August 5, 2011. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  14. ^ "Chronology for Biharis in Bangladesh". Center for International Development and Conflict Management, University of Maryland. 10 January 2007. Archived from the original on 2 June 2010. Retrieved 6 May 2010.
  15. ^ "From South to South: Refugees as Migrants: The Rohingya in Pakistan". Huffington Post. 12 May 2008. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  16. ^ "Sheedis have been hurt most by attitudes". Dawn. 23 June 2008. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  17. ^ a b "Conflicted Karachi | The Dawn Blog | Pakistan, Cricket, Politics, Terrorism, Satire, Food, Culture and Entertainment". 26 August 2010. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  18. ^ Ramzi, Shanaz (9 July 2001), "The melting pot by the sea", Dawn, archived from the original on 15 July 2004, retrieved 26 July 2009
  19. ^ "Warsaw Business Journal – Online Portal". 13 June 2011. Archived from the original on 4 March 2014. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  20. ^ The Exile Mission: The Polish Political Diaspora and Polish Americans, 1939-1956
  21. ^ "After Slayings, Americans in Karachi Weigh Choices – Los Angeles Times". 12 June 2009. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  22. ^ "Karachi". Archived from the original on 14 October 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  23. ^ Understanding Karachi and the 2015 local elections
  24. ^ Bengali and Rohingya leaders gearing up for LG polls
  25. ^ "Political and ethnic battles turn Karachi into Beirut of South Asia". Archived from the original on 2012-11-30. Retrieved 2014-12-25.
  26. ^ Arif Hasan, Masooma Mohibur (1 February 2009). "Urban Slums Reports: The case of Karachi, Pakistan" (PDF). Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  27. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-04-09. Retrieved 2014-10-24.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

Further readingEdit