Nastaʿlīq style)
Native to Pakistan
Region Punjab Province (Attock District), Kohat, Peshawar
Native speakers unknown (620,000 cited 1981)Template:Infobox language/ref
Language family
Hazara Hindko
Writing system Nasta'liq script
Language codes
ISO 639-3 hnd (Southern Hindko)
Linguist List Template:Infobox language/linguistlist
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Template:Contains Hindko text

Hindko (ہندکو), also Pahari and Panjistani,[1] is a dialect of Western Punjabi (Lahnda) of the Indo-Aryan (Indic) language family spoken in Northern Pakistan.


The name Hindko simply means "Indian" (of the Indus),[2] and has been applied to various dialects spoken in northern Pakistan, in the areas of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (including Hazara), Punjab (including Attock), and Pakistan Administered Kashmir, including by some Pashtun tribes, as well as by the Hindki people of Afghanistan. The name is found in Greek references to the mountainous region in eastern Afghanistan and northern Pakistan as Καύκασος Ινδικός (Caucasus Indicus, or Hindu Kush).

There is no generic name for these people because they belong to diverse ethnicities and tend to identify themselves by the larger families or castes. However the people of the largest group in the districts of Haripur, Abbottabad, Mansehra, Battagram and Kohistan are sometimes recognised collectively as Hazarawal, named after the defunct Hazara Division that comprised these districts. In Peshawar city they are called Peshawari or "Kharay" by Pashtuns meaning City-dwellers.

Language or dialect

Further information: Punjabi dialects

Some linguists have classified Hindko as a dialect of Punjabi, while others consider it a distinct language. Since Sindhi, Punjabi, Urdu, and Hindi are spoken in a region that has witnessed significant ethnic and identity conflict, all have been exposed to the dialect versus language question. Each of these languages possesses a central standard on which its literature is based, and from which there are multiple dialectal variations.[3]


Hindko could be classified into four subdialects: Hazara Hindko, Peshawari Hindko, Chachhi, and Kohati. The Hindko of Peshawar is prestigious and the basis for an emergent literature. Due to the ambiguous nature of the name "Hindko", much of the literature on the language is confused, and much of the material below concerns all dialects called "Hindko" rather than Hindko proper.Hindko is closely related to few other dialects of Punjabi specially with Dhani dialect of Chakwal.

History and origin

During the pre-Islamic era in present day Pakistan, the language of the masses was refined by the ancient grammarian Pāṇini, who set the rules of an ancient language called Sanskrit which was used principally for Hindu scriptures (analogous to Latin in the Western world). Meanwhile, the vernacular language of the masses, Prakrit developed into many tongues and dialects which spread over the northern parts of South Asia. Hindko is believed to be closely related to Prakrit. It has undergone very little grammatical corruption, but has borrowed considerable vocabulary from its neighbours, in particular Kashmiri, Gojri, Kohistani, and Pashto.


The largest geographically contiguous group of Hindko speakers is concentrated in the districts of Abbottabad, Haripur, Mansehra, Attock of Pakistan, while there are a substantial number of speakers of Hindko in cities like Peshawar, Nowshera, Swabi, and Kohat of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province of Pakistan and both parts of Kashmirs.

People who speak Hindko are referred to by some academics as Punjabi Pathans because of the many Pashtun tribes, for example Kakazai, Shilmani/Sulemani, Mashwanis, Jadoon, Tareen, Tanolis, who settled in places like Hazara, adopted Hindko and gained political power in these areas during the British rule, and also because of many ethnic Pashtuns such as Kakar, Durrani, Popalzai, Sadozai, Bangash, Khattak, Yousafzai, Ghaznavi and Khogyani, etcetera who speak Hindko as mother tongue in Peshawar and Kohat are Pashtuns by origin. The Hindko speaking people living in major cities Peshawar, Kohat, Nowshera, and Attock are bilingual in Pashto and Hindko. Similarly there are Pashto speaking people in districts like Abbottabad and Mansehra (especially in Agror Valley and northern Tanawal) who have become bilingual in Pashto and Hindko.


The speakers of Hindko live primarily in seven districts: Mansehra, Abbottabad, Haripur, Peshawar, Nowshera, Akora Khattak, Swabi and Kohat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Attock and Rawalpindi in Punjab, and parts of Pakistan-administered Kashmir including Muzaffarabad; Jonathan Addleton states that "Hindko is the linguistic majority in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, represented in nearly one-third of the province's total households." (Pakhtunkhwa referring to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.) In Abbottabad District 88 per cent of households reported speaking Hindko, in Mansehra District 77 per cent, in Peshawar District 35 per cent, and in Kohat District 40 per cent (1986). Testing of inherent intelligibility among Hindko dialects through the use of recorded tests has shown that there is a northern (Hazara) dialect group and a southern group. The southern dialects are more widely understood throughout the dialect network than are the northern dialects. The dialects of rural Peshawar and Talagang are the most widely understood of the dialects tested. The dialect of Balakot is the least widely understood.

In most Hindko-speaking areas, speakers of Pashto live in the same or neighbouring communities (although this is less true in Abbottabad and Kaghan Valley than elsewhere). In Abottabad, it is now being advanced due to usage of Urdu words. It is spoken by the Kakazais, Mashwanis, Jadoons, Tanolis, Swatis, Mughals, and Awans. In the mixed areas, many people speak both languages. The relationship between Hindko and Pashto is not one of stable bilingualism. In the north east, Hindko is the dominant dialect both in terms of domain of usage and in terms of the number of speakers, whereas in the south west, Pashto seems to be advancing in those same areas.

The Gandhara Hindko Board has published the first dictionary of hindko and its launching ceremony was held on March 16, 2003. According to a press release, Sultan Sakoon, a prominent Hindko poet, compiled the dictionary.

Hindko speakers are also found throughout Afghanistan, where they are known as Hindkois.

Literature and writers

The Gandhara Hindko Board is a leading organisation that has been active in the preservation and promotion of the Hindko and culture since 1993. The board was launched in Peshawar in year 1993 to preserve and promote Hindko —the second most spoken of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan. It brings out two regular publications— Hindkowan and The Gandhara Voice, and a number of occasional publications. Late professor Zahoor Ahmad Awan of Peshawar city, the author of 61 books and publications, was the founding-chairman of the board. Now the board is headed by Ejaz Ahmad Qureshi. The board has published first Hindko dictionary and several other books on a variety of topics. With head office in Peshawar, the organisation has regional offices in other cities of the province where Hindko is spoken and understood. The organisation has arranged a number of mega events to raise awareness among the Hindkowans about the importance of their language and culture. The board seeks respect for and due attention to all the languages spoken in Gandhara.

In 2003 the Gandhara Hindko Board published first a Hindko dictionary which was compiled by a prominent linguists from Abbottabad, Sultan Sakoon. The board published a second more comprehensive Hindko dictionary in 2007 prepared by Elahi Bakhsh Awan of the University of London. He is the author of Sarzamin e Hindko, and Hindko Sautiyat. His three booklets on Hindko phonology were published by the University of Peshawar in the late 70's.

The Idara-e-Faroghe Hindko based in Peshawar is another body that is promoting the Hindko. Riffat Swati and Aurangzeb Ghaznavi are main people of this organisation. The Idara has published the first Hindko translation of the Quran by Haider Zaman Haider and the first Ph.D. thesis on Hindko by E.B.A. Awan. A monthly magazine Faroogh is also published regularly from Peshawar under supervision of Aurangzeb Ghaznavi. In Karachi Syed Mehboob is working for the promotion of Hindko. His articles are frequently published in Farogh monthly. He is organiser of Hindko Falahi Forum.

Many organisations like Bazm-e-Ilm-o-Fun Abbottabad and Halqa-e-Yaraan Shinkyari are contributing in their own way to the cause of promoting Hindko and literature. Asif Saqib, Sufi Abdur Rasheed, Fazal-e-Akbar Kamal, Sharif Hussain Shah, Muhammad Farid, Yahya Khalid, Nazir Kasalvi, and Muhammad Hanif have contributed a lot in this regard. Sultan Sakoon has written the First Hindko dictionary that has been published by Gandhara Hindko Board. Sultan Sakoon stands out for his literary contribution as he is a prolific writer and his books including those on Hindko proverbs and Hindko riddles have been published.

See also



  • 1974: Phonology of Verbal Phrase in Hindko, Dr E.B.A. Awan published by Idara-e-Farogh-e-Hindko Peshawar in 1992.
  • 2004: Hindko Sautiyat, Dr E.B.A. Awan, published by Gandhara Hindko Board Peshawar in 2004.
  • 2005: Hindko Land - a thesis presented by Dr E.B.A. Awan at the World Hindko Conference at Peshawar in 2005.
  • 1980: "Hindko in Kohat and Peshawar." Bulletin of SOAS, 1980, 482-510
  • 1978: "Rival linguistic identities in Pakistan Punjab." Rule, protest, identity: aspects of modern South Asia (ed. P. Robb & D. Taylor), 213-34. London: Curzon
  • 1986: Addleton, Jonathan S., "The Importance of Regional Languages in Pakistan," al'Mushir, Vol. 28, No. 2 (1986), pp. 55–80.
  • 1992: Rensch, Calvin R., Hindko and Gujari National Institute of Pakistani Studies, 305 pp. ISBN 969-8023-13-5.
  • Monthly Farogh Peshawar Hindko magazine March 2010.
  • Karachi main Hindko zaban o adab Dr.Syed Mehboob ka kirdar " by Kamal Shah
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