Hinduism in Pakistan

This page was last edited on 9 February 2018, at 23:54.

Pakistani Hindus are Hindus of full or partial Pakistani descent, constituting approximately 2% of Pakistan's population.[3] Hinduism is the second largest religion in Pakistan after Islam, according to the 1998 Census.[4] As of 2010, Pakistan had the fifth largest Hindu population in the world and PEW predicts that by 2050 Pakistan will have the fourth largest Hindu population in the world.[5]

According to Pew Research, the Hindu population will reach 5.6 million[5] and Hindus will constitute 2% of the Pakistan population by 2050.[6] After Pakistan gained independence from British India on 14 August 1947, 4.7 million of West Pakistan's Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India while 6.5 million Muslims moved from India to live in West Pakistan.[7]

In the 1998 Census the Hindu population was found to be 2,443,614.[4] Hindus are found in all provinces of Pakistan but are mostly concentrated in Sindh.[8] They speak a variety of languages such as Sindhi, Seraiki, Aer, Dhatki, Gera, Goaria, Gurgula, Jandavra, Kabutra, Koli, Loarki, Marwari, Sansi, Vaghri[9] and Gujarati.[10]

Hinduism in Pakistan
Hindu Temple, Sadh Belo 4
Total population
3,231,220 million (2011)[1]
2.12% of the Pakistani population[2]
Regions with significant populations

Predominantly Sindh 7%, Tharparkar district 35%, Mithi 80%. Minorities in

Balochistan 1.1%, Punjab 1.6% and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 0.8%
Predominantly Sindhi  • with small minorities of: Punjabi and English


Nanimandir - panoramio
Hinglaj Mata Mandir Cave entrance

Ancient ages

Mandir in Peshawar
Peshawar, Pakistan
Extent of the Indus Valley Civilization sites.

The Rig Veda, the oldest Hindu text, was believed to have been composed in the Punjab region of modern-day Pakistan (and India) on the banks of the Indus River around 1500 BCE.[11] Various archaeological finds such as the 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. 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, a Hindu legend states that the Pakistani city of Lahore was first founded by Lava, while Kasur was founded by his twin Kusha, both of whom 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. Many Pakistani city names (such as Peshawar[12] and Multan[13]) can be traced back to Sanskrit roots.


After Pakistan gained independence from Britain on 14 August 1947, 4.7 million of the country's Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India, while 6.5 million Muslims migrated from India to Pakistan.[7] The 1998 census of Pakistan recorded less than 2.5 million Hindus.[14] The overwhelming majority of Hindus in Pakistan are concentrated in Sindh province.

In 1951, Hindus constituted 12.9% of the Pakistani population (this includes East Pakistan, modern day Bangladesh), which made the Dominion of Pakistan the second largest Hindu-population country after India.[15]

In the 1951 census, West Pakistan had 1.6% Hindu population, while East Pakistan (modern Bangladesh) had 22.05%.[16] By 1997, the percentage of Hindus remained stable at 1.6% in Pakistan,[17] while it dropped to 10.2% in Bangladesh.[18]

According to the 1998 Pakistan Census, caste Hindus constitute about 1.6 percent of the total population of Pakistan and about 6.6% in the Sindh province. The Pakistan Census separates Schedule Castes from the main body of Hindus who make up a further 0.25% of the national population.[19]

Based on the 1998 Census as well as stabilization of Pakistan's Hindu population since then, Pakistan would, today, have roughly 3 million Hindus. According to the Election Commission of Pakistan, there are 1.49 million Hindu voters in the country. They are mostly concentrated in Sindh where their number comes to over 1.39 million.[20]

Hinduism and independence

Karachi Mandir
The Swaminarayan Temple in Karachi was a departure point for those migrating to India after independence.
The Dharmshala %26 Hindu Temple at Saidur Village
Mandir in Saidpur Village

At the time of Pakistan's creation the 'hostage theory' had been espoused. According to this theory the Hindu minority in Pakistan was to be given a fair deal in Pakistan in order to ensure the protection of the Muslim minority in India.[21][22] However, Khawaja Nazimuddin, the 2nd Prime Minister of Pakistan stated: "I do not agree that religion is a private affair of the individual nor do I agree that in an Islamic state every citizen has identical rights, no matter what his caste, creed or faith be".[23]

After the independence of Pakistan in 1947, over 4.7 million Hindus and Sikhs from West Pakistan left for India, and 6.5 million Muslims chose to migrate to Pakistan.[7] The reasons for this exodus were 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. 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 Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs who left ancestral homes hastily after independence.

Many Hindus who attained great success in India, like Bollywood film stars and directors Dev Anand, Raj Kapoor, Ramesh Sippy, Vinod Khanna, Manoj Kumar, 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 Gulzarilal Nanda are also from the part of the Punjab which became part of Pakistan.

Former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was born near Rawalpindi, while 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 during Partition.

Religious, social and political institutions

The Indus river is a holy river to many Hindus, and the Government of Pakistan periodically allows small groups of Hindus from India to make pilgrimage and take part in festivities in Sindh[24] and Punjab.[25]

Hindu Comminity of Pakistan
Hindu children's at Mandir during prayer

The communal violence of the 1940s and the subsequent persecutions have resulted in the destruction of many Hindu temples in Pakistan, although the Hindu community and the Government of Pakistan have preserved and protected many prominent ones. Some ancient Hindu temples in Pakistan draw devotees from across faiths including Muslims.[26] 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 and seats in the provincial assemblies, National Assembly and the Senate. The Pakistan Hindu Panchayat, Pakistan Hindu Council 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 of 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.

In February 2016, the Sindh Assembly approved the Hindu Marriage Bill for millions of Hindus living in Sindh.[27] The bill paves the way for regulations on registration of marriages and divorce for Hindus and fixes the minimum marrying age for males and females at 18 years-old.[28] In September 2016, the National Assembly of Pakistan also unanimously approved the Hindu Marriage Bill 2016.[29][30] The Senate of Pakistan unanimously passed the bill in February 2017.[31] In March 2017, the Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain passed the Hindu Marriage Bill thereby making it a law. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also mentioned that the marriage registrars will be established in areas where Hindus stay.[32]

Community life

Karachi's city culture allows for a secular environment, providing opportunities to Hindu minorities. Though Islamisation has impacted the country since the 1980s, the secular institutions established during British rule allow Hindus to take advantage of education, sports, cultural activities, and government services, and participate in mainstream Pakistani life.

Hindu festival Navratri dancers in Maputo Mozambique
Hindus celebrating Navratri

Prominent Pakistani Hindus include Pakistani cricketers Danish Kaneria and Anil Dalpat,[33] fashion designer Deepak Perwani, and former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan Rana Bhagwandas.

Decline and persecution


Manora Beach, Karachi, Pakistan
Manora Island Beach, with Varun Dev Mandir visible in the top right corner, Manora Beach, Karachi, Pakistan

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. The region became predominantly Muslim during the rule of Delhi Sultanate and later Mughal Empire. In general, religious conversion was a gradual process, with many converting to Islam to get rid of the caste system of Hinduism, with some converts attracted to pious Muslim saints, while others converted to Islam to gain tax relief, land grant, marriage partners, social and economic advancement,[34] or freedom from slavery.[35] 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 migrated to Pakistan. Approximately 4.7 million Hindus and Sikhs moved to India while 6.5 million Muslims settled in Pakistan.

Some Hindus in Pakistan feel that they are treated as second-class citizens and many have continued to migrate to India.[36][37] According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan data, just around 1,000 Hindu families fled to India in 2013.[38] In May 2014, a member of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, revealed in the National Assembly of Pakistan that around 5,000 Hindus are migrating from Pakistan to India every year.[39]

Those Pakistani Hindus who have migrated to India allege that Hindu girls are sexually harassed in Pakistani schools, adding that Hindu students are made to read the Quran and their religious practices are mocked.[40] The Indian government is planning to issue Aadhaar cards and PAN cards to Pakistani Hindu refugees, and simplifying the process by which they can acquire Indian citizenship.[41]


Separate electorates for Hindus and Christians were established in 1985—a policy originally proposed by Islamist leader Abul A'la Maududi. Christian and Hindu leaders complained that they felt excluded from the county's political process, but the policy had strong support from Islamists.[42] Until 1999, when former military chief Pervez Musharaf overthrew Nawaz Sharif’s government, non-Muslims had dual voting rights in the general elections that allowed them to not only vote for Muslim candidates on general seats, but also for their own non-Muslim candidates.[43]

In the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition, widespread retaliatory riots erupted against Hindus. Mobs attacked scores of Hindu temples across Pakistan.[44] Shops owned by Hindus were also attacked in Sukkur, Sindh. Hindu homes and temples were also attacked in Quetta.[45]

Krishan Mandir, Kallar
Krishan Mandir, Kallar, Pakistan

In 2005, 32 Hindus were killed by firing near Nawab Akbar Bugti's residence during bloody clashes between Bugti tribesmen and paramilitary forces in Balochistan. The firing left the Hindu residential locality near Bugti's residence badly hit,[46] though Bugti's armed tribesmen were the targets of Pakistani forces.[46]

The rise of Taliban insurgency in Pakistan has been an influential and increasing factor in the persecution of and discrimination against religious minorities in Pakistan, such as Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, and other minorities.[47] It is said that there is persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan.[48][49]

Pool at Katas
View from top of the temple, Katas, Pakistan

In July 2010, around 60 members of the minority Hindu community in Karachi were attacked and evicted from their homes following an incident of a Dalit Hindu youth drinking water from a tap near an Islamic Mosque.[50][51] In January 2014, a policeman standing guard outside a Hindu temple at Peshawar was gunned down.[52] Pakistan's Supreme Court has sought a report from the government on its efforts to ensure access for the minority Hindu community to temples – the Karachi bench of the apex court was hearing applications against the alleged denial of access to the members of the minority community.[53][54][55]

Pakistan Studies curriculum issues

Hindu Temple at Tilla Gogian
Ancient Hindu temple ruins at Tilla Jogianm Salt Range, Pakistan.

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".[56] 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."[57][58][59][60]

See also


  1. ^ Population by religion Archived 17 June 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Area, Population, Density and Urban/Rural Proportion by Administrative Units Archived 22 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ "Population by religion". Archived from the original on 2 April 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Population Distribution by Religion, 1998 Census" (PDF). Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  5. ^ a b "10 Countries With the Largest Hindu Populations, 2010 and 2050". Pew Research Center. 2 April 2015. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  6. ^ "Projected Population Change in Countries With Largest Hindu Populations in 2010". Pew Research Center. 2 April 2015. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  7. ^ a b c Hasan, Arif; Raza, Mansoor (2009). Migration and Small Towns in Pakistan. IIED. p. 12. ISBN 9781843697343. When the British Indian Empire was partitioned in 1847, 4.7 million Sikhs and Hindus left what is today Pakistan for India, and 6.5 million Muslims left India and moved to Pakistan.
  8. ^ "The truth about forced conversions in Thar".
  9. ^ "Pakistan". Ethnologue.
  10. ^ Rehman, Zia Ur (18 August 2015). "With a handful of subbers, two newspapers barely keeping Gujarati alive in Karachi". The News International. Retrieved 13 January 2017. In Pakistan, the majority of Gujarati-speaking communities are in Karachi including Dawoodi Bohras, Ismaili Khojas, Memons, Kathiawaris, Katchhis, Parsis (Zoroastrians) and Hindus, said Gul Hasan Kalmati, a researcher who authored “Karachi, Sindh Jee Marvi”, a book discussing the city and its indigenous communities. Although there are no official statistics available, community leaders claim that there are three million Gujarati-speakers in Karachi – roughly around 15 percent of the city’s entire population.
  11. ^ "Rigveda | Hindu literature". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2017-01-13.
  12. ^ Kumkum Roy. Historical Dictionary of Ancient India. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 259.
  13. ^ Jarred Scarboro. Ultimate Handbook Guide to Multan : (Pakistan) Travel Guide. p. 7.
  14. ^ Population by religion Archived 19 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ https://books.google.co.in/books?id=ivzKjY5LncIC&pg=PA100&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false
  16. ^ D'Costa, Bina (2011), Nationbuilding, Gender and War Crimes in South Asia, Routledge, pp. 100–, ISBN 978-0-415-56566-0
  17. ^ Census of Pakistan Archived 22 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  18. ^ "Census of Bangladesh". Banbeis.gov.bd. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 8 June 2013.
  19. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 June 2006. Retrieved 17 June 2006.
  20. ^ A. Khan, Iftikhar (8 January 2017). "Minorities' vote bank reaches close to 3m". Dawn newspaper. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  21. ^ Zamindar, Vazira Fazila-Yacoobali (2010). The Long Partition and the Making of Modern South Asia: Refugees, Boundaries, Histories. Columbia University Press. p. 72. ISBN 9780231138475. The logic of the hostage theory tied the treatment of Muslim minorities in India to the treatment meted out to Hindus in Pakistan.
  22. ^ Dhulipala, Venkat (2015). Creating a New Medina: State Power, Islam, and the Quest for Pakistan in Late Colonial North India. Cambridge University Press. p. 19. ISBN 9781316258385. Within the subcontinent, ML propaganda claimed that besides liberating the 'majority provinces' Muslims it would guarantee protection for Muslims who would be left behind in Hindu India. In this regard, it repeatedly stressed the hostage population theory that held that 'hostage' Hindu and Sikh minorities inside Pakistan would guarantee Hindu India's good behaviour towards its own Muslim minority.
  23. ^ Qasmi, Ali Usman (2015). The Ahmadis and the Politics of Religious Exclusion in Pakistan. Anthem Press. p. 149. ISBN 9781783084258. Nazim-ud-Din favored an Islamic state not just out of political expediency but also because of his deep religious belief in its efficacy and practicality...Nazim-ud-Din commented:'I do not agree that religion is a private affair of the individual nor do I agree that in an Islamic state every citizen has identical rights, no matter what his caste, creed or faith be'.
  24. ^ "Pakistan: Over 70 Hindu pilgrims from India arrive in Sindh for Sant Shada Ram anniversary". The Indian Express. PTI. 23 November 2016. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  25. ^ Tiwari, Siddharth (5 March 2016). "125 Indian hindu pilgrims visit Pakistan ahead of Maha Shivratri, welcomed at Wagah border". India Today. PTI. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  26. ^ "Ancient Pakistan temples draw devotees from across faiths". Times of India. TNN. 27 Jul 2014. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  27. ^ "Sindh Assembly approves Hindu Marriage Bill". Dawn newspaper. Reuters. 15 February 2016. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  28. ^ "Pakistan approves Hindu Marriage Bill after decades of inaction". Times of India. Press Trust of India. 9 February 2016. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  29. ^ Ali, Kalbe (27 September 2016). "NA finally passes Hindu marriage bill". Dawn newspaper. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  30. ^ "Pakistani lawmakers adopt landmark Hindu marriage bill". Times of India. Press Trust of India. 27 September 2016. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  31. ^ Yudhvir Rana (19 February 2017). "Pak senate's nod to Hindu Marriage Bill". Times of India. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  32. ^ "Hindu Marriage Bill Becomes Law in Pakistan". News18. 2017-03-20. Retrieved 2017-03-20.
  33. ^ "7 Non-Muslim cricketers who played for Pakistan". Cricket Country. 2014-03-27. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
  34. ^ Malik 2008, p. 183-187.
  35. ^ Avari 2013, pp. 66-70: "Many Hindu slaves converted to Islam and gained their liberty."
  36. ^ Sohail, Riaz (2 March 2007). "Hindus feel the heat in Pakistan". BBC. Retrieved 22 February 2011. But many Hindu families who stayed in Pakistan after partition have already lost faith and migrated to India.
  37. ^ "Gujarat: 114 Pakistanis are Indian citizens now". Ahmedabad Mirror. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  38. ^ Rizvi, Uzair Hasan (10 September 2015). "Hindu refugees from Pakistan encounter suspicion and indifference in India". Dawn.
  39. ^ Haider, Irfan (13 May 2014). "5,000 Hindus migrating to India every year, NA told". Retrieved 2016-01-15.
  40. ^ "Why Pakistani Hindus leave their homes for India – BBC News". BBC News. 28 October 2015. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  41. ^ "Modi government to let Pakistani Hindus register as citizens for as low as Rs 100 | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis". Daily News and Analysis. 17 April 2016. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  42. ^ Jones, Owen Bennett (2002). Pakistan: Eye of the Storm. Yale University Press. p. 31. ISBN 0300101473. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  43. ^ https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/171708-Christian-community-campaigns-for-right-to-elect-not-select
  44. ^ Gordon, Sandy; Gordon, A. D. D. (2014). India's Rise as an Asian Power: Nation, Neighborhood, and Region. Georgetown University Press. pp. 54–58. ISBN 9781626160743. Retrieved 27 May 2017.
  45. ^ "Pakistanis Attack 30 Hindu Temples". The New York Times. 1992-12-07. Retrieved 2011-04-15. Muslims attacked more than 30 Hindu temples across Pakistan today, and the Government of this overwhelmingly Muslim nation closed offices and schools for a day to protest the destruction of a mosque in India.
  46. ^ a b Abbas, Zaffar (22 March 2005). "Journalists find Balochistan 'war zone'". BBC. Retrieved 26 December 2016. The Hindu residential locality that is close to Mr Bugti's fortress-like house was particularly badly hit. Mr Bugti says 32 Hindus were killed by firing from the government side in exchanges that followed an attack on a government convoy last Thursday.
  47. ^ Extremists Make Inroads in Pakistan’
  48. ^ "Persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan". Zee news. Zee Media Corporation Ltd. 21 October 2013. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
  49. ^ US Department of State International Religious Freedom Report 2006
  50. ^ Press Trust of India (12 July 2010). "Hindus attacked, evicted from their homes in Pak's Sindh". The Hindu. Retrieved 14 July 2010.
  51. ^ "Hindus attacked in Pakistan". Oneindia.in. 13 July 2010.
  52. ^ "Hindu temple guard gunned down in Peshawar". Newsweek Pakistan. AG Publications (Private) Limited. 26 January 2014. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
  53. ^ "Are Hindus in Pakistan being denied access to temples?". rediff.com. PTI (Press Trust Of India). 27 February 2014. Retrieved 3 March 2014.
  54. ^ Sahoutara, Naeem (26 February 2014). "Hindus being denied access to temple, SC questions authorities". The Express Tribune News Network. Retrieved 3 March 2014.
  55. ^ "Pak SC seeks report on denial of access to Hindu temple". Press Trust of India. 26 February 2014. Archived from the original on 3 March 2014. Retrieved 3 March 2014.
  56. ^ Nayyar, A.H. and Salim, A. (eds.)(2003). The subtle Subversion: A report on Curricula and Textbooks in Pakistan. Report of the project A Civil Society Initiative in Curricula and Textbooks Reform. Sustainable Development Policy Institute, Islamabad.
  57. ^ Hate mongering worries minorities Archived 6 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine., Daily Times (Pakistan), 2006-04-25
  58. ^ In Pakistan's Public Schools, Jihad Still Part of Lesson Plan – The Muslim nation's public school texts still promote hatred and jihad, reformers say. By Paul Watson, Times Staff Writer; 18 August 2005; Los Angeles Times. 4-page article online, retrieved on 2 January 2010
  59. ^ Primers Of Hate – History or biology, Pakistani students get anti-India lessons in all their textbooks; 'Hindu, Enemy Of Islam' – These are extracts from government-sponsored textbooks approved by the National Curriculum Wing of the Federal Ministry of Education. By AMIR MIR; 10 Oct 2005; Outlook India Magazine Retrieved on 2 January 2010
  60. ^ Noor's cure: A contrast in views; by Arindam Banerji; 16 July 2003; Rediff India Abroad Retrieved on 2 January 2010

Further reading

  • "Purifying the Land of the Pure: Pakistan's Religious Minorities" by Farahnaz Ispahani, Publisher: Harper Collins India
  • Yaqoob Khan Bangash, Our vanishing Hindus, The Express Tribune, 13 June 2016.

External links

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