Hindi in Pakistan

Hindi is mutually intelligible with Urdu, the national and official language of Pakistan. Both are standard registers of Hindustani.[1][2] As a result of linguistic and cultural similarities, Hindi has had notable influences in Pakistan and is taught as an academic subject in some institutions; before the partition of colonial India, Hindi was taught at major universities in the provinces that came to form Pakistan.[3] While Hindi and Urdu both have a predominantly Indic (Indo-Aryan) base, Hindi uses more Sanskrit (old Indic) words in its educated vocabulary while Urdu incorporates more Arabic, Persian, and a few Turkic (all non-Indic) words for the same. Most poetry, ghazals, qawalis & lyrics use many Urdu words.


Before the partition of British India, Hindi was spoken in the region forming Pakistan by the Hindus and Sikhs residing there.[4][5] It was taught across school and university levels, mainly in Punjab and Sindh,[6] such as in Government College, Forman Christian College, Dyal Singh College, and Karachi University.[3] At Oriental College, research departments in Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi were founded in 1928, though Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi and Pashto were studied there since its founding in 1870.[7]

The Hindi Pracharini Sabha regularly organized debates in the Hindi language in major cities of the Punjab, such as Lahore, Sargodha, and Rawalpindi.[3]

After the partition of colonial India, most of these communities left for what became independent India; prominent Hindi writers with origins in Pakistan include Bhisham Sahni, Shailendra, Hullad Moradabadi, Uday Bhanu Hans, Narendra Mohan and others.[6] Conversely, some first-generation Pakistanis who migrated from India during Pakistan's independence in 1947 were familiar with Hindi and the Devanagari script.[8][9]

Urdu was long associated with the Muslims of South Asia by virtue of its historical development and the Urdu movement. During the Pakistan Movement, it was given preference over Hindi as their lingua franca and thus achieved official status in Pakistan.[10]

Academic studyEdit

Hindi has drawn increasing focus as an academic subject.[8] There is a growing trend of Hindi experts and the availability of texts in Pakistan.[8] Many Hindi instructors migrated from India, or were educated at Indian universities.[5]

The Department of Hindi at the National University of Modern Languages (NUML) in Islamabad was established in 1973. It became the first university department in Pakistan to provide certificates, diplomas, language courses, Masters and PhD degrees in Hindi,[11] including the country's first Hindi MPhil degree.[12][13] It has provided instruction to Pakistani as well as foreign students.[11][5]

The Hindi Department at the University of the Punjab in Lahore has roots going back to the establishment of the Oriental College; however, it wasn't until 1983 that accredited courses were started. The department awards both undergraduate and postgraduate Hindi courses.[14] At the University of Punjab's Centre for South Asian Studies, Hindi is a mandatory subject for those pursuing an MPhil in regional languages.[8]

The University of Karachi also once had a Hindi department, which was later closed.[15]

Cultural influenceEdit

As a result of Bollywood films, Indian soap opera viewership and cable television in Pakistan, Hindi has had a notable cultural influence.[8][16] Several Hindi words have entered the casual Pakistani lexicon, such as vishwas ("trust"),[17] ashirvad ("blessing"), charcha ("talk"), pati-patni ("husband-wife"), bina ("without"), shanti ("peace"), sambandh ("relations") and other popular phrases.[18][19][5] The advent of internet and social media has accelerated such exchanges.[20][5]

The screening of Hindi films in Pakistani cinemas, which was restricted for nearly four decades, has resumed over the last few years.[21][22] Much of the dialogues, themes and script-writing used in Hindi films are influenced by Urdu, therefore capturing familiarity with Pakistani audiences.[23] Furthermore, several actors in the Hindi film industry have roots in present Pakistan.[24] Hindi music from Bollywood remains popular and shares similarities with Pakistani music. This has enabled several Indian artists to contribute to Pakistani film soundtracks and vice versa.[25]

Research in Sahiwal found that over 60% of children in Pakistan watch Hindi-language cartoons, being "very much fond of watching Hindi cartoon series named: Chota Bheem – originally Hindi cartoons & Doraemon – Japanese Cartoons but Dubbed in Hindi."[26] The study found that students widely used what the researchers considered to be uniquely Hindi words over uniquely Urdu words in their spoken language with the following results: Bloom Field Hall School (58%), Beacon House School (55%), DPS Sahiwal (65%), The Educators Sahiwal (80%), The Spirit School Sahiwal (70%), Allied School Sahiwal (72%).[26]

Some commentators view these tendencies as an example of globalisation and soft power, while others have described it as a silent cultural invasion or a reignition of the Hindi-Urdu controversy.[18][17][27][28] In January 2017, the Punjab provincial assembly passed a resolution demanding a ban on television cartoons containing Hindi dubbing, and called for their replacement with Urdu.[29] For some Pakistanis, knowing Hindi provides an opportunity to follow Hindi media and develop a cultural understanding of neighboring India, while for others it is an individual interest.[8] In 2015, an Urdu–Hindi cookbook described as the "first of its kind" was published in Pakistan.[30] At Lahore's Information Technology University, the Data Science Lab created an application called the Urdu-Hindi Dictionary which translates words written in Roman transliteration to their selected language.[31]

Some Pakistani Hindus learn Hindi in order to study Hindu texts.[6] Hindi is also spoken amongst the small Indian community in Pakistan. The Indian High Commission in Islamabad operated a Hindi school which gave classes to the children of expatriates.[32]

Official useEdit

At the Wagah border crossing in Lahore, signboards contain Hindi markings alongside Urdu/Shahmukhi and English to facilitate Indian travelers.[33] The Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation operates a Hindi radio service.[34]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Hasan, Shazia (2 March 2017). "Urdu and Hindi are one language, says expert". Dawn. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  2. ^ Asghar, Vaqas (1 May 2013). "Urdu and Hindi: Joined by the umbilical cord". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Shukla, Vivek (14 September 2017). "Hindi, the Enemy's Language, is Being Slowly Revived in Pakistan". The Quint. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  4. ^ Hassan, Shiraz (10 April 2015). "Century-old Golra Railway station now a site for museum goers". Dawn. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d e Sinha, R.K. (14 September 2016). "The charm of Hindi in Pakistan". The Pioneer. Retrieved 16 May 2017. ...For the last many years, a large number of Chinese are taking lessons in Hindi in Pakistan. Not only the Chinese, many officials of Islamic countries, including the United Arab Emirates, too are learning Hindi in Pakistan. That Pakistan is emerging as a seat of Hindi learning and teaching is a revelation.
  6. ^ a b c Sinha, R.K. (15 September 2016). "Learning Hindi in Pakistan". The Statesman. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  7. ^ Mirza, Sehyr (16 March 2018). "Past Haunts the Present in Pakistan's Only Hindi Department". The Wire. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Singh, Rohinee (16 September 2015). "Hindi finds more and more takers in Pakistan". DNA India. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
  9. ^ "'Language has no religion': Pakistani lawyer fuses Urdu, Hindi in calligraphy". The Express Tribune. 3 February 2016. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  10. ^ Hoodbhoy, Pervez (5 March 2016). "Is Pakistan's problem Urdu?". Dawn. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  11. ^ a b "Department of Hindi". National University of Modern Languages. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  12. ^ "NUML awards country's first ever MPhil degree in Hindi". Daily Times. 31 August 2015. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
  13. ^ "In a first, Pak varsity awards MPhil in Hindi". Tribune India. 1 September 2015. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
  14. ^ "Hindi Department". University of the Punjab. Archived from the original on March 15, 2015. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  15. ^ "Cross-border relations: 'We are fighting the same battle for human rights'". The Express Tribune. 12 June 2015. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
  16. ^ "Did you know? Sarwat Gillani is learning Hindi for her next drama". Dawn Images. 19 May 2016. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  17. ^ a b "'Vishwas': A word that threatens Pakistan". The Express Tribune. 18 September 2012. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
  18. ^ a b Gangan, Surendra (30 November 2011). "In Pakistan, Hindi flows smoothly into Urdu". DNA India. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  19. ^ Patel, Aakar (6 January 2013). "Kids have it right: boundaries of Urdu and Hindi are blurred". First Post. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
  20. ^ Muzammiluddin, Syed (27 May 2014). "Hindi Wikipedia – An Encyclopedia Bridging New Bonds of Friendship Across Borders". WikiNut. Archived from the original on 29 May 2014. Retrieved 16 May 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  21. ^ Chatterjee, Garga (24 December 2013). "Hindi films should be blocked in Pakistan". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  22. ^ Rehman, Asha'ar (5 June 2014). "Indian films still rule". Dawn. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  23. ^ "Om Puri in Pakistan — "Indian majority holds no grudge against Pakistanis". Dawn. 18 December 2015. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  24. ^ "Bollywood finds roots in Peshawar". The Express Tribune. 19 December 2014. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  25. ^ Mankotia, Ajay (1 April 2017). "From Pink to Bin Roye, why India, Pakistan can't Partition Hindi film music". Dailyo.in. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  26. ^ a b Aziz, Hulba; Shah, Syed Kazim (2017). "The Effect of Hindi Animated Cartoons Causing the Language Change in Pakistani Children – A Socio-Cultural Approach of Ideology". Journal of the Punjab University Historical Society. 30 (2): 60, 62–63.
  27. ^ Ezdi, Asif (3 September 2012). "A silent invasion". The News. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
  28. ^ Tahir, Ali (23 January 2012). "'My children speak Hindi, what do I do?'". Pakistan Today. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
  29. ^ "Punjab Assembly approves ban on cartoons with Hindi dubbing". Dunya News. 26 January 2017. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  30. ^ Raza, Munnazzah (25 June 2015). "Zaiqay Frontier Kay: Cookbook in Urdu and Hindi attempts to bring Pakistan and India closer". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  31. ^ Sarwar, Mahrukh (5 December 2016). "Data Science Lab in Pakistan makes Urdu-Hindi Dictionary". Dawn. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  32. ^ Ghanashyam, Aniket (10 July 2003). "An Indian Student In Pakistan". Outlook India. Retrieved 22 September 2015. There was a Hindi school in the Indian High Commission so that when the children come back to India they won't have too much trouble communicating with the people here.
  33. ^ "Facilitating visitors: Hindi markings on signs appear at Wagah border crossing". The Express Tribune. 22 March 2013. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  34. ^ "KARACHI: PBC to launch Hindi service, says Nisar". Dawn. 10 June 2002. Retrieved 20 May 2017.

Further readingEdit