Exploring Pakistan — a Land of Over 70 Different Languages! (2023)

Pakistan is home to wondrous tourist gems, most of which haven’t been explored yet. In recent years, many of the world’s most famous travellers have visited Pakistan and praised its incredible natural beauty as well as the hospitality of the local people. The colourful culture of our homeland is based on a vibrant mix of different communities, ethnicities and linguistic diversity, which is truly awe-inspiring. What’s more amazing is that, according to Ethnologue, an international website, around 73 languages are spoken across the country, including some of the internationally recognised endangered languages. In this blog, we’ll find out all about the most popular languages spoken in Pakistan.

Let’s get the ball rolling!

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Popular Languages Spoken in Pakistan

Exploring Pakistan — a Land of Over 70 Different Languages! (1)

First of all, let’s list down and discuss some of the popular languages spoken in Pakistan while taking a look at the percentage of their speakers in the country’s total population.

  • Urdu – 10% Percent (the National Language of Pakistan)
  • Punjabi – 48% Percent
  • Sindhi – 12%
  • Saraiki – 10%
  • Pashto- 8%
  • Balochi – 3%
  • Hindko – 2%
  • Brahui – 1%

Now, let’s discuss each of these languages of Pakistan in detail.

Urdu (the National Language of Pakistan)

The first language of around 70 million people and spoken as a second language by over 100 million people, mostly in Pakistan and India, in the world, Urdu is one of the oldest and most popular members of the Indo-European family of languages. The history of the Urdu language dates back to as early as the 12th century AD. Formed as a result of the intermingling of the people speaking different languages such as Turkish, Persian and Arabic with a prominent local influence, this mixed speech was given various names in its early days such as Zaban-e-Hind, Hindi, Zaban-e-Delhi, Hindvi, Rekhta, Dakkhani, Gujari, Zaban-e-Urdu-e-Mualla, Zaban-e-Urdu, or just Urdu (Horde in Turkish), which literally means ‘the language of the camp.’ Amir Khusro (1253–1325) was the very first poet of the Urdu Language. Widely spoken and understood across the globe, it is the national language of Pakistan whereas English remains the official language of the state. Urdu literature started flourishing centuries ago. By the 19th century, poetry written in Urdu was stimulated by socialist nationalist, pan-Islamic feeling, and writers and poets from Punjab as well as the areas of Delhi and Lucknow began to contribute.


Exploring Pakistan — a Land of Over 70 Different Languages! (2)

Punjabi, which often spelled as Panjabi, is counted among the most common Indo-Aryan languages in today’s world. In Pakistan, Punjabi language is spoken by around 70 million souls, mostly in Punjab province. However, the status of the official language of Punjab is reserved for Urdu. As spoken in both India and Pakistan, Punjabi is a language of many dialects. Written in Gurmukhi and Shahmukhi scripts, the dialects of the language doesn’t have much difference between them and sound quite similar. Dialects of Punjabi spoken in India are Majhi, Doabi, Pwadhi and Malwi. However, in Pakistan, the chief dialects are Pothohari, Hindko, Majhi and Multani. Since Majhi is used to form the standard for writing in Punjabi, it is considered the most important dialect of Punjabi in the country.

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Based on Arabic script and Devanagari script, Sindhi is one of the most popular languages of Pakistan. It has been formed as a result of amalgamation of different regional languages spoken in different regions of South Asia. It is also an ancient Indo-Aryan language that is now spoken by millions of people in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and India. Some of the major dialects of the language are Vicholi, Lasi, Siroli Lari, Thari or Thareli, Kathiawari Kachhi, Macharia, Dukslinu and Muslim Sindhi.


Saraiki is another very popular member of the Indo-Aryan languages family. It is the first language of around 17 million people mainly found in the provinces of Sindh and Punjab of Pakistan. It is also a minor language in India and is mainly spoken in the state of Punjab. Saraiki language is known by many different names including Seraiki, Siraiki, Multani, Lahndi and Western Punjabi. Saraiki is often considered as a dialect of Punjabi. In Pakistan, the Perso-Arabic script is followed to write Saraiki, while in India the alphabets of Gurmukhi and Devanagari are used as the written script for the language.


Pashto, which is also known as Pukhto, is an important member belonging to the southeastern Iranian branch of Indo-Iranian languages, which are chiefly spoken in Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. The language of Pashto comes in three main regional varieties: Northern Pashto, Southern Pashto and Central Pashto. The speakers of Northern and Southern variants of Pashto language are mainly found in Pakistan. However, Central Pashto is mostly spoken in Iran and Afghanistan. Pashto speaking people in Pakistan are mainly found in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and upper parts of Balochistan.


Exploring Pakistan — a Land of Over 70 Different Languages! (3)

One of the most popular, and common, languages spoken in Pakistan is Balochi. Often spelled Baluchi or Beluchi, it is one of the oldest living languages in the subcontinent belonging to the group of the Indo-European languages spoken in the Indo-Iranian region. The language is mostly spoken in Afghanistan, Iran and Balochistan, the largest province of Pakistan. As per the historical records, the Perso-Arabic script was adopted by the Baloch scholars to write Balochi language after the independence of Pakistan. The Balochi language has been divided into several dialects: Eastern Balochi (spoken in Afghanistan/Iran), Western Balochi (spoken in coastal areas of Balochistan), Northern Balochi (spoken in central and upper Balochistan) and Southern Balochi (spoken in lower Balochistan).

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Hindko is another ancient language spoken in Pakistan that belongs to the group of Indo-Aryan languages. The speakers of Hinko are Hindkowan people, mostly living in the northern areas of Pakistan. According to linguistic experts, the name of the language is actually a merger of two words where “Hind” means Sindh and “ko” means language. As per the historical records, when the invaders came from Afghanistan to this area, they gave this name to the local language, which was being spoken from Peshawar to UP at that time. There has been a debate about Hindko as some people consider it as a dialect of Sindhi while others call it one of the lesser known dialects of Punjabi language.


Spoken primarily by the Brahui people in distant parts of the province of Balochistan, in Pakistan as well as in scattered regions across Iran, Brahui is a very unique and rare language of the Indo-Iranian region. Brahui is also spoken in Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates by expatriate Brahui communities, which is why it is also considered a minor language in these countries.

Other Languages Spoken In Pakistan

Exploring Pakistan — a Land of Over 70 Different Languages! (4)

In addition to the above-listed languages, Kashmiri, Bengali and Shina are some popular languages of Pakistan. Shina language is very rare and is mostly spoken in the Gilgit Baltistan region of Pakistan. Some other linguistic minorities are listed as follows:

  • Aer
  • Badeshi
  • Balti
  • Changthang
  • Chitrali
  • Dogri
  • Ghera
  • Gujarati
  • Gojri (Gujari)
  • Khetrani
  • Khowar
  • Kohistani Memoni
  • Pothwari
  • Sansi
  • Torwali
  • Yidgha
  • Zangskari

This brings us to the end of our overview of the popular languages spoken in Pakistan. We hope you have enjoyed reading it. Let us know about your queries and suggestions by emailing us at blog@zameen.com. Your valuable feedback helps us improve.

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How many languages does Pakistan have? ›

The 2022 edition of Ethnologue lists 77 established languages in Pakistan. Of these, 68 are indigenous and 9 are non-indigenous.

What does Pakistan people language? ›

Urdu: Urdu is the national language of Pakistan. It is a mixture of Persian, Arabic and various local languages.

What is language according to David Crystal? ›

David Crystal defines language as. "The systematic, conventional use of sounds, signs or written symbols in a human society. for communication and self-expression."

What's the language of the future by Henry Hitchings? ›

Henry Hitchings in his essay "What's the Language of the Future " ? states that as a result of English spreading to different parts of the world , the language is " changing " and " acquiring more and more local colour " .

What are the top 3 languages spoken in Pakistan? ›

  • Urdu - The National Language of Pakistan. Urdu is one of the oldest and most popular members of the Indo-European family of languages. ...
  • Punjabi. Punjabi, also known as Panjabi, is one of the most widely spoken Indo-Aryan languages in the world today. ...
  • Sindhi. ...
  • Saraiki. ...
  • Pashto. ...
  • Balochi. ...
  • Hindko. ...
  • Brahui.
May 20, 2022

How old is the Pakistan language? ›

Urdu started developing in north India around Delhi in about the 12th century.

What is called hello in Pakistan? ›

The most common greeting among Pakistanis is “As-Salamu-Alaykum” ('Peace be upon you').

What is hello in Pakistan? ›

So, السلام عليكم (Asalaam-walaikum) is the most common way to say hello in Pakistan.

Which is oldest language of Pakistan? ›

Balochi language, also spelled Baluchi or Beluchi, one of the oldest living languages of the Indo-Iranian group of the Indo-European languages. A West Iranian language, Balochi is spoken by about nine million people as a first or second language in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, India, and Baloch diaspora communities.

What country spoke English first? ›

English originated in England and is the dominant language of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and various island nations in the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean.

What are the 4 types of language? ›

These include morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics and phonology.

What are the 3 types of language? ›

Three essential types of language that frequently crop up in writing and conversation include: informative. expressive.

What language will we speak in 2050? ›

Mandarin. Mandarin is likely to be the most spoken language in 2050 because of its vast number of speakers. The economic influence of China will also prove vital for the continued use and spread of Chinese languages around the world.

What will be the world language in 2050? ›

Although Mandarin is predicted to dominate by 2050, other Chinese languages are also predicted to thrive over the next three decades.

What is the newest formed language? ›

Spoken in Australia by 350 people, Light Warlpiri is one of the newest languages in the world. It began in the 1980s and was first documented by Carmel O'Shannessy, a linguist working for the University of Michigan.

What language did Jesus speak? ›

Jesus likely understood Hebrew, though his everyday life would have been conducted in Aramaic. Of the first four books of the New Testament, the Gospels of Matthew and Mark records Jesus using Aramaic terms and phrases, while in Luke 4:16, he was shown reading Hebrew from the Bible at a synagogue.

What is the most important language in Pakistan? ›

Urdu is the national language and one of two official languages. English is the other official language. The 1998 Census lists the most spoken primary languages as: Punjabi, Pushto, Sindhi, Saraiki, Urdu, and Balochi.

Is Pakistan language hard to learn? ›

According to the difficulty scale, we can safely say that Urdu as a second language is a moderately difficult language to learn. It is more challenging than learning English but far easier than learning Chinese or Arabic.

Who gave first name Pakistan? ›

The name Pakistan was coined by Choudhry Rahmat Ali, a Pakistan Movement activist, who in January 1933 first published it in a pamphlet Now or Never, using it as an acronym.

Who gave the name Pakistan and why? ›

In a 1933 pamphlet, Now or Never, Rahmat Ali and three Cambridge colleagues coined the name as an acronym for Punjab, Afghania (North-West Frontier Province), Kashmir, and Indus-Sind, combined with the -stan suffix from Baluchistan (Balochistan).

What was Pakistan called before 1971? ›

East Pakistan was renamed from East Bengal by the One Unit Scheme of Pakistani Prime Minister Mohammad Ali of Bogra. The Constitution of Pakistan of 1956 replaced the Pakistani monarchy with an Islamic republic.

What is Pakistan first language? ›

The mother tongue and official language of Pakistan are Urdu, and English is the second official language of Pakistan.

Which country has the most languages? ›

Papua New Guinea is the most multilingual country, with over 839 living languages, according to Ethnologue, a catalogue of the world's known languages.

How do you say hello in Pakistan? ›

The most common greeting among Pakistanis is “As-Salamu-Alaykum” ('Peace be upon you'). Elders are greeted first out of respect. Well-acquainted men may hug each other upon greeting.


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