Almost everyone knows that Pakistan has four major languages. There are many more, but they hold no importance due to the lack of development and education. Urdu is regarded as a national language (both by majority and minority) but it is not recognized as an official state language.
It was not until 1973 when there were educational reforms in Sindh, that a Sindhi language board was established. Thus, imposing Sindhi as a mandatory subject in schools.
Today, the four main languages of Pakistan are Urdu, Punjabi, Saraiki, and Sindhi. But, the people of Pakistan speak a number of other languages also. Here are some main Pakistani languages.
- 1. Urdu – National Language
- 2. Punjabi – The Language of Punjab
- 3. Saraiki – The Language of South Punjab
- 4. Sindhi – The Language of Sindh
- 5. Pushto – The Language of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
- 6. Balochi – The Language of Balochistan
- 7. Hindko – Also a Language of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
- 8. Kashmiri – Provincial Language of Azad Kashmir
- 9. Bruhai – A Unique Language
- 10. Potohari – Also a Language of Azad Kashmir
1. Urdu – National Language
The standardization of the national language is entirely dependent on people of northern regions who speak Hindi and it is also known as Hindustani. The national language was not recognized in the early days of Pakistan.
However, today it is spoken by almost 20% of the population. It is the official language used for communication between all provinces and countries around the world. In fact, if you know Urdu then it would be easier to find a job in Pakistan.
2. Punjabi – The Language of Punjab
Around 90 million people speak Punjabi as their first language and out of the total population living in Pakistan, 43% are native speakers of this language. In fact, if you were born and brought up in Punjab then your mother tongue would be Punjabi.
Punjabi is similar to Urdu but there are a few differences. For example, the word for mother is “maa” in Punjab and “main” in Sindh.
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3. Saraiki – The Language of South Punjab
The majority of people living in southern parts of the Punjab province speak Saraiki as their mother tongue. It is a very sweet and melodious language filled with lush greenery and beautiful flowers. Languages of the world, even those belonging to African countries, are influenced by Saraiki due to its rich vocabulary and unique style of speaking.
4. Sindhi – The Language of Sindh
Although not as widely spoken as Punjabi or Urdu, Sindhi is the official provincial language of Sindh. It is an ancient language with a rich cultural heritage. If you are looking for literature in this regard then look no further than Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai whose poetry has been regarded as one of the best works in Sindhi literature.
5. Pushto – The Language of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Pushto (Pashtu) is the provincial language of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Most Pashto-speaking people are in Afghanistan; However, Pushtuns living in Balochistan also speak this language. The word ‘Pushtun’ has its roots in the ancient Persian word ‘Pahlavani’ which meant a person who could speak the Pahlawani language. Pushto is mostly used in eastern Afghanistan and western Pakistan.
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6. Balochi – The Language of Balochistan
The provincial language of Balochistan is further divided into two languages: Northern Balochi and Southern Balochi. The difference between the two is that the former is written in Arabic script while the latter is written in Perso-Arabic script. Although they are considered one language, most people use a different script for each one.
7. Hindko – Also a Language of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Hindko is a part of the Indo-Aryan language family and it is spoken in the northern regions of Pakistan. The majority of Hindko speakers do not live in Pakistan as most migrated to the Punjab region during British rule between 1849 and 1947. In fact, Hindko has been listed as one of the endangered languages by UNESCO because its native speakers are reducing day by day.
8. Kashmiri – Provincial Language of Azad Kashmir
As there are many dialects in the Kashmir province of Pakistan, the provincial language is divided into two areas: Northern and Southern. The majority of people living in both areas speak this language but it is written differently depending on which side you are on. For instance, northern Kashmiri is written in Devnagri whereas southern Kashmiri has its own alphabet.
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9. Bruhai – A Unique Language
Brahui is a rather unusual language of the Indo-Iranian community. It is spoken in Pakistan and Iran’s far corners. Brahui is also spoken in Iraq, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates by expatriate Brahui communities. Since there are very few people who speak this language, it is considered a minority language in many countries.
10. Potohari – Also a Language of Azad Kashmir
In Pakistan, there are about 25 million people who speak this language. Despite its popularity, it is still underutilized in literature. However, several popular radio programs are broadcast in Potohari.
Pakistan has a rich culture and this includes having an array of regional languages. Here, we have talked about the common languages while there are many regions that speak more than single language.
Which language is mostly spoken in Pakistan? Which ones of these can you speak? Let our viewers know.