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Decline of Hinduism in Pakistan

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Decline of Hinduism in Pakistan

Template:Hinduism by country

Pakistani Hindus
Rana Bhagwandas
Total population
2.5-4.5 million(2005)[1]
1.6-1.85% of the Pakistani Population[2]
Regions with significant populations
predominantly Sindh with minorities in Balochistan, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Predominantly Sindhi with small minorities  • Punjabi • English

After Pakistan gained independence from Britain on 14 August 1947, approximately 6 million of the country's minority Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India. Similarly, nearly an equal number of Muslims left India to live in Pakistan. Today, only 26 out of Pakistan's 428 Hindu temples[3] exist. The 1998 Census of Pakistan recorded less than 2.5 million Hindus. The ovewhelming majority of Hindus in Pakistan are concentrated in the Sindh province.

In 1951, Hindus constituted 22% of the Pakistani population (this includes East Pakistan, modern day Bangladesh);[4][5] Today, the share of Hindus is down to 1.7% in Pakistan,[6] and 9.2% in Bangladesh[7] (In 1951, Bangladesh alone had 22% the Hindu population.[8])


Hinduism, once a major religion in present-day Pakistan along with Buddhism, has endured many invasions, migrations, conquests and settlement of many tribes and ethnic groups. There has been historical decline of Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism in the areas of Pakistan. This happened for a variety of reasons even as these religions have continued to flourish beyond the eastern frontiers of Pakistan. These region became predominantly Muslim during the rule of Delhi Sultanate and later Mughal Empire due to missionary Sufi saints whose dargahs dot the landscape of Pakistan and rest of South Asia.

Ancient Ages

Various archaeological finds such as swastika symbol, yogic postures, what appears to be like a "Pasupati" image that was found on the seals of the people of Mohenjo-daro, in Sindh, point to early influences that may have shaped Hinduism. A group of people known as Aryans are thought to have migrated from regions like Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex, Central Asia, Iran, Eastern Europe or Russia,[9] crossed the river Sindhu, and mingled with the Dravidians, the indigenous people. The religious beliefs and folklore of the Indus valley people have become a major part of the Hindu faith that evolved in this part of the South Asia.

The Sindh kingdom and its rulers play an important role in the Indian epic story of the Mahabharata. In addition, there is the legend that the Pakistani city of Lahore was first founded by Lava, while Kasur was founded by his twin Kusha, both of whome were the sons of Rama of the Ramayana. The Gandhara kingdom of the northwest, and the legendary Gandhara peoples are also a major part of Hindu literature such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Most Pakistani city names (such as Peshawar, Multan) can be traced back to Sanskrit roots.


In August 1947, at the end of British Raj, the population percentage of Hindus in what is today Pakistan was perhaps 15% or higher, but would drop to its current total of 3.3% in the years since independence. According to the 1998 Pakistan Census, caste Hindus constitute about 1.6 percent of the total population of Pakistan and about 6.6% in province of Sindh. The Pakistan Census separates Schedule Castes from the main body of Hindus who make up a further 0.25% of national population.[10] The total number of Hindus in Pakistan, including Scheduled Castes, however, is often suspected to be much higher than what was reported in the 1998 Census. According to unofficial reports, experts, and politicians, the real number of Dalits in Pakistan exceeds 2 million as opposed to 500,000 while the number of other caste Hindus is far higher than the 1.6% reported in the last census.

Based on the 1998 Census as well as the stabilization of Pakistan's Hindu population since then, Pakistan would, today, have roughly 3 million Hindus.

Pakistan Hindu population by districts

According to 1998 Census:[11]

PAKISTAN PAKISTAN 2,443,614 132,352,000 1.846%
Chitral Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 2 318,689 0.001%
Upper Dir Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 22 575,858 0.004%
Lower Dir Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 24 717,649 0.003%
Swat Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 158 1,257,602 0.013%
Shangla Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 14 434,563 0.003%
Buner Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 389 506,048 0.077%
Malakand Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 142 452,291 0.031%
Kohistan Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 6 472,570 0.001%
Manshera Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 72 1,152,839 0.006%
Batgram Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 117 307,278 0.038%
Abbotabad Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 40 880,666 0.005%
Haripur Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 36 692,228 0.005%
Mardan Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 283 1,460,100 0.019%
Swabi Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 106 1,026,804 0.010%
Charsadda Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 104 1,022,364 0.010%
Peshawar Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 1,224 2,019,118 0.061%
Nowshera Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 666 874,373 0.076%
Kohat Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 798 562,644 0.142%
Hangu Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 156 314,529 0.050%
Karak Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 10 430,796 0.002%
Bannu Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 220 675,667 0.033%
Lakki Marwat Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 8 490,025 0.002%
D.I.Khan Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 471 852,995 0.055%
Tank Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 22 238,216 0.009%
Fata Area Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 1,921 3,176,331 0.060%
Attock Punjab 190 1,274,935 0.015%
Rawalpindi Punjab 430 3,363,911 0.013%
Jhelum Punjab 205 936,957 0.022%
Chakwal Punjab 164 1,083,725 0.015%
Sargodha Punjab 142 2,665,979 0.005%
Bhakkar Punjab 33 1,051,456 0.003%
Khushab Punjab 167 905,711 0.018%
Mianwali Punjab 121 1,056,620 0.011%
Faisalabad Punjab 903 5,429,547 0.017%
Jhang Punjab 115 2,834,545 0.004%
Toba Tek Singh Punjab 198 1,621,593 0.012%
Gujranwala Punjab 110 3,400,940 0.003%
Hafizabad Punjab 126 832,980 0.015%
Gujrat Punjab 238 2,048,008 0.012%
Mandi Bahauddin Punjab 302 1,160,552 0.026%
Sialkot Punjab 3,577 2,723,481 0.131%
Narowal Punjab 1,118 1,265,097 0.088%
Lahore Punjab 1,607 6,318,745 0.025%
Kasur Punjab 2,115 2,375,875 0.089%
Okara Punjab 670 2,232,992 0.030%
Sheikhupura Punjab 1,185 3,321,029 0.036%
Vihari Punjab 343 2,090,416 0.016%
Sahiwal Punjab 261 1,843,194 0.014%
Pak Pattan Punjab 77 1,286,680 0.006%
Multan Punjab 1,208 3,116,851 0.039%
Lodhran Punjab 50 1,171,800 0.004%
Khanewal Punjab 249 2,068,490 0.012%
D.G.Khan Punjab 340 1,643,118 0.021%
Rajanpur Punjab 526 1,103,618 0.048%
Layyah Punjab 810 1,120,951 0.072%
Muzaffargarh Punjab 1,115 2,635,903 0.042%
Bahawalpur Punjab 22,606 2,433,091 0.929%
Bahawalnagar Punjab 1,603 2,061,447 0.078%
Rahim Yar Khan Punjab 73,506 3,141,053 2.340%
Jacobabad Sindh 50,693 1,425,572 3.556%
Shikarpur Sindh 15,855 880,438 1.801%
Larkana Sindh 27,321 1,927,066 1.418%
Sukkur Sindh 29,800 908,373 3.281%
Ghotki Sindh 64,817 970,549 6.678%
Khairpur Sindh 45,452 1,546,587 2.939%
Naushero Feroz Sindh 14,458 1,087,571 1.329%
Nawabshah Sindh 30,824 1,071,533 2.877%
Dadu Sindh 34,490 1,688,811 2.042%
Hyderabad Sindh 349,167 2,891,488 12.076%
Badin Sindh 226,423 1,136,044 19.931%
Thatta Sindh 32,139 1,113,194 2.887%
Sanghar Sindh 292,687 1,453,028 20.143%
Mirpurkhas Sindh 296,555 906,065 32.730%
Umerkot Sindh 315,395 662,965 47.573%
Tharparkar Sindh 369,998 914,291 40.468%
Karachi Sindh 77,131 9,856,318 0.783%
Islamabad Islamabad Capital Territory 195 805,235 0.024%
Gilgit-Baltistan Gilgit-Baltistan 0 970,347 0.000%
Azad Kashmir Azad Kashmir 0 2,972,501 0.000%
Quetta Balochistan 4,175 744,802 0.561%
Pishin Balochistan 47 367,183 0.013%
Qilla Abdullah Balochistan 171 370,269 0.046%
Chagai Balochistan 1,941 202,564 0.958%
Loralai Balochistan 466 295,555 0.158%
Barkhan Balochistan 117 103,545 0.113%
Qilla Saifullah Balochistan 3 193,553 0.002%
Zhob Balochistan 101 275,142 0.037%
Sibi Balochistan 2,876 180,398 1.594%
Ziarat Balochistan 0 33,340 0.000%
Kohlu Balochistan 171 99,846 0.171%
Dera Bugti Balochistan 1,399 181,310 0.772%
Jaffarabad Balochistan 6,529 432,817 1.508%
Nasirabad Balochistan 1,875 245,894 0.763%
Bolan Balochistan 4,463 288,056 1.549%
Jhal Magsi Balochistan 1,198 109,941 1.090%
Kalat Balochistan 1,657 237,834 0.697%
Mastung Balochistan 1,228 179,784 0.683%
Khuzdar Balochistan 2,962 417,466 0.710%
Awaran Balochistan 295 118,173 0.250%
Kharan Balochistan 780 206,909 0.377%
Lasbela Balochistan 4,504 312,695 1.440%
Kech Balochistan 979 413,204 0.237%
Gwadar Balochistan 721 185,498 0.389%
Panjgur Balochistan 457 234,051 0.195%

Hinduism and Independence

When Pakistan was formed in August 1947, over 8 million Hindus and Sikhs from what was East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and Pakistan's Punjab, Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwas left for India, and a similar number of Muslims chose to migrate to Pakistan. The reasons for this incredible exodus was the heavily charged communal atmosphere in British Raj, deep distrust of each other, the brutality of violent mobs and the antagonism between the religious communities. The fact that over 1 million people lost their lives in the bloody violence of 1947, should attest to the fear and hate that filled the hearts of millions of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs who had to leave ancestral homes during hastily after independence.

Many Hindus who attained great success in the public eye in India, like the filmstars and directors Dev Anand, Raj Kapoor, Ramesh Sippy, Vinod Khanna, Manoj Kumar, Rajkumar, Yash Chopra, Balraj Sahni, Rajendra Kumar and Sunil Dutt trace their birthplaces and ancestral homes to the towns of Pakistan. Independent India's first Test cricket captain, Lala Amarnath hailed from Lahore, prime ministers I K Gujral and Manmohan Singh are also from the part of the Punjab which became part of Pakistan, and former deputy prime minister Lal Krishna Advani was born in Karachi. Nearly all of these individuals left their homes due to the violence and turmoil of independence.

Religious, social and political institutions

The Indus river is a holy river to many Hindus, and the Pakistan government periodically allows small groups of Hindus from Pakistan and India to make pilgrimage, though most Hindus are forced to do this along the banks of the river that flows through a small part of Indian-controlled Kashmir.

The communal violence of the 1940s and the subsequent persecutions have resulted in the destruction of thousands of Hindu temples in Pakistan, although the Hindu community and the Pakistani government have preserved and protected many prominent ones. The Hindu Gymkhana in Karachi has tried to promote social development for Hindus in the city. One of the few temples remaining in Karachi today is the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Karachi.

Hindus are allotted separate electorates to vote by, but their political importance is virtually nil. The Pakistan Hindu Panchayat and the Pakistani Hindu Welfare Association are the primary civic organizations that represent and organise Hindu communities on social, economic, religious and political issues in most of the country, with the exception of the Shiv Temple Society Hazara, which especially represents community interests in the Hazara region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in addition to being the special guardians of the Shiva temple, at Chitti Gatti village, near Mansehra. There are minority commissions and for a while, a Ministry of Minority Affairs in the Government of Pakistan looked after specific issues concerning Pakistani religious minorities.

Community life

Karachi's city culture allows for a secular environment providing opportunities to Hindu minorities. Though Islamisation has swept the country since the 1980s, the secular institutions established during British rule allow Hindus to take advantage of education, sports, cultural activities, government services, and participate in mainstream Pakistani life. Prominent Pakistani Hindus include Pakistani cricketer Danish Kaneria, fashion designer Deepak Perwani, and former Chief Justice (Acting) of the Supreme Court of Pakistan Rana Bhagwandas. Many of the Muslims throughout Pakistan still prefer the community surnames of Hindu/Sikh ancestry such as 'Chouhan', 'Bhat', 'Rajput', 'Sodhi', and 'Chowdhury'.

Decline and persecution


There has been historical decline of Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism in the areas of Pakistan. This happened for a variety of reasons even as these religions have continued to flourish beyond the eastern frontiers of Pakistan. These region became predominantly Muslim during the rule of Delhi Sultanate and later Mughal Empire due to missionary Sufi saints whose dargahs dot the landscape of Pakistan and rest of South Asia. The predominantly Muslim population supported Muslim League and Pakistan Movement. After the independence of Pakistan in 1947, the minority Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India while the Muslims refugees from India settled down in the Pakistan. Approximately 6 million Hindus and Sikhs moved to India while nearly equal number of Muslim settled in Pakistan. Some Hindus in Pakistan feel that they are treated as second class citizens and many have migrated to India.[12]

In 1951, Hindus constituted 22 percent of the Pakistani population and the Hindu population was concentrated in East Pakistan which later became Bangladesh, while Hindu population in West Pakistan was less than 2%.[13][5] By 1998 the proportion of Hindus was down to around 1.7 percent.[14] This huge drop is due to the creation of Bangladesh in 1971, where the bulk of pre-1971 Pakistani Hindus resided and emigration of Hindus from Pakistan. Minority members of the Pakistan National Assembly have alleged that Hindus were being intimidated to force them to leave Pakistan.[15]


The increasing Islamisation of Pakistan and antagonism against India, a nation with a Hindu majority, has been an influential factor in the persecution of and discrimination against religious minorities, including Hindus. Such Islamisation include the blasphemy laws, which make it dangerous for religious minorities to express themselves freely and engage freely in religious and cultural activities. The promulgation of Sharia, Quranic law has also increased the marginalisation of Hindus and other minorities. Following the Babri Mosque riots in India, riots and attacks on Hindus in retaliation has only increased; Hindus in Pakistan are routinely affected by communal incidents in India and violent developments on the Kashmir conflict between the two nations. It remains the hope of many that a permanent peace between the two nations will go a long way in making life better for the roughly 3 million Hindus living in Pakistan. The 1998 census recorded 2,443,614 Hindus in Pakistan.[16]

Hindu minorities, under Taliban rule in Swat, were forced to wear Red headgear such as turbans as a symbol of dhimmi.[17] In July 2010, around 60 members of the minority Hindus in Karachi were attacked and ethnically cleansed following an incident when a Hindu youth drank from a water tap near an Islamic mosque[18][19] The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan came out with a report in 2010 stating that at least 25 Hindu girls are abducted in Pakistan every month.[20] The increasing Islamization of Pakistan and antagonism against India, a nation with a Hindu majority, has been an influential factor in the persecution of Hindus.

Pakistan Studies curriculum issues

Main article: Pakistan Studies curriculum

According to the Sustainable Development Policy Institute report 'Associated with the insistence on the Ideology of Pakistan has been an essential component of hate against India and the Hindus. For the upholders of the Ideology of Pakistan, the existence of Pakistan is defined only in relation to Hindus, and hence the Hindus have to be painted as negatively as possible'[21] A 2005 report by the National Commission for Justice and Peace a non-profit organization in Pakistan, found that Pakistan Studies textbooks in Pakistan have been used to articulate the hatred that Pakistani policy-makers have attempted to inculcate towards the Hindus. 'Vituperative animosities legitimise military and autocratic rule, nurturing a siege mentality. Pakistan Studies textbooks are an active site to represent India as a hostile neighbour' the report stated. 'The story of Pakistan’s past is intentionally written to be distinct from, and often in direct contrast with, interpretations of history found in India. From the government-issued textbooks, students are taught that Hindus are backward and superstitious.' Further the report stated 'Textbooks reflect intentional obfuscation. Today’s students, citizens of Pakistan and its future leaders are the victims of these partial truths'.[22][23][24][25]

See also


External links

  • Pakistan Hindu Council Website
  • Hindus demand reconstruction of all temples damaged in 1992
  • Hindus feel the heat in Pakistan
  • In pictures: Hindus in Pakistan
  • Assessment for Hindus in Pakistan by University of Maryland
  • Hindu majority district Thar Pakar in Pakistan
  • Festival time for Pakistani Hindus

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