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Languages of Pakistan

Census History of Major languages
Rank Language 1998 census 1982 census 1961 census 1951 census
1 Punjabi* 44.15% 48.17% 66.39% 67.08%
2 Pashto 15.42% 13.15% 8.47% 8.16%
3 Sindhi 14.1% 11.7% 12.59% 12.85%
4 Saraiki 10.53% 9.54%
5 Urdu 07.57% 07.60% 07.57% 07.05%
6 Balochi 03.57% 03.02% 02.49% 03.04%

{* Seraiki was included with Punjabi in 1951 and 1961 census }

Following are the major languages spoken in Pakistan. The percentage of Pakistanis who are native speakers of that language is also given.

Numbers of speakers of larger languages
Language 2008 estimate 1998 census Main areas spoken
1 Punjabi 76,367,360 44.17% 58,433,431 44.15% Punjab
2 Pashto 26,692,890 15.44% 20,408,621 15.42% North-West Frontier Province
3 Sindhi 24,410,910 14.12% 18,661,571 14.10% Sindh
4 Seraiki 18,019,610 10.42% 13,936,594 10.53% South Punjab
5 Urdu 13,120,540 7.59% 10,019,576 7.57% Karachi
6 Balochi 6,204,540 3.59% 4,724,871 3.57% Balochistan
7 Others 8,089,150 3.59% 6,167,515 4.66%
Total 172,900,000 100% 132,352,279 100% Pakistan

There are around 75 to 80 known Pakistani languages although, in practice, there are primarily six major languages in Pakistan spoken by 95% of the population: Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi, Saraiki, Urdu and Balochi.

The official language is English and the national language is Urdu, the census indicates that around 8% of the population speak Urdu as their first language. However, due to rapid urbanization and modernization, the use of Urdu as a primary language is increasing, especially amongst the growing urbanized middle class of Pakistan. Around 44% speakPunjabi, 15% speak Pashto, 14% speak Sindhi, 10% Saraiki, 8% Urdu, 4% Balochi and 5% other languages (HindkoBrahui etc.) as their first language. Most Pakistanis, however, speak or understand at least two to three languages and almost all Pakistanis speak or understand the national language, Urdu.

Saraiki

Saraiki is closely related to Punjabi (See Classification, below). Many argue that it is merely a regional dialect of Punjabi. It is spoken as a first language by 10% of Pakistanis, mostly in the southern districts of Punjab, Pakistan (see Saraikis). Dialects tend to blend into each other, with Punjabi to the east, and Sindhi to the south. Until recently it was considered to be a dialect of Punajbi. The Saraiki language has an 85% lexical similarity with Sindhi and 68% similarity with Odki and Sansi. Dialects are Derawali, Khatki, Jangli or Jatki and Riasti or Bahawalpuri. Saraiki or Multani (also Lehndi by some) differs from Punjabi more than any other dialect. Multani becomes more and more different as you move down south, as the influence of Sindhi increases, it is also known as Saraiki there. Saraiki itself is Sindhi word and means northern.

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