The society and culture of Pakistan (Urdu: ثقافت پاکستان) comprises numerous diverse cultures and ethnic groups: the Punjabis, Kashmiris, Sindhisin east, Muhajirs, Makrani in the south; Baloch and Pashtun in the west; and the ancient Dardic, Wakhi, and Burusho communities in the north. These Pakistani cultures have been greatly influenced by many of the surrounding countries’ cultures, such as the Turkic peoples, Persian, Arab, and other South Asian ethnic groups of the Subcontinent, Central Asia and the Middle East.
In ancient times, Pakistan was a major cultural hub. Many cultural practices and great monuments have been inherited from the time of the ancient rulers of the region. One of the greatest cultural influences was that of the Persian Empire, of which Pakistan was a part. In fact, the Pakistani satrapswere at one time the richest and most productive of the massive Persian Empire. Other key influences include the Afghan Empire, Mughal Empire and later, the short-lived but influential, the British Empire.
Pakistan has a cultural and ethnic background going back to the Indus Valley Civilization, which existed from 2800–1800 B.C., and was remarkable for its ordered cities, advanced sanitation, excellent roads, and uniquely structured society. Pakistan has been invaded many times in the past, and has been occupied and settled by many different peoples, each of whom have left their imprint on the current inhabitants of the country. Some of the largest groups were the Proto-Indo-Aryans, of which Sindhis and Punjabis descend from and later Iranic peoples which the Baloch and Pashtuns descend from. Other less significant ones include the Greeks, Scythians, Persians, White Huns, Arabs, Turks, Mongols, Buddhists, and otherEurasian groups, up to and including the British, who left in the late 1940s.
The region has formed a distinct cultural unit within the main cultural complex of South Asia, the Middle East and Central Asia from the earliest times, and is analogous to Turkey’s position in Eurasia. There are differences in culture among the different ethnic groups in matters such as dress, food, and religion, especially where pre-Islamic customs differ from Islamic practices. Their cultural origins also reveal influences from far afield, includingTibet, Nepal, India, and eastern Afghanistan. All groups show varying degrees of influence from Persia, Turkestan and Hellenistic Greece. Pakistan was the first region of South Asia to receive the full impact of Islam and has developed a distinct Islamic identity, historically different from areas further west.
Ancient sites in Pakistan include: Zoroastrian Fire temples, Islamic centres, shi’a shrines/Sufi shrines, Buddhist temples, Sikh, Hindu, and pagantemples and shrines, gardens, tombs, palaces, monuments, and Mughal and Indo-Saracenic buildings. Sculpture is dominated by Greco-Buddhist friezes, and crafts by ceramics, jewellery, silk goods and engraved woodwork and metalwork.
Pakistani society is largely multilingual, multi-ethnic and multicultural. Though cultures within the country differ to some extent, more similarities than differences can be found, as most Pakistanis are mainly of Aryan heritage or have coexisted side by side along the Indus River for several thousand years, or both. However, over 60 years of integration, a distinctive “Pakistani” culture has sprung up, especially in the urban areas where many of the diverse ethnic groups have coexisted and ithe country now having a literacy rate of 55%, up from 3% at the time of independence. Traditional family values are highly respected and considered sacred, although urban families increasingly form nuclear families, owing to socio-economic constraints imposed by the traditional culture of the extended family.
The past few decades have seen emergence of a middle class in cities such as Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Hyderabad, Quetta, Faisalabad,Sukkur, Peshawar, Sialkot, Abbottabad, and Multan. Rural areas of Pakistan are regarded as more conservative, and are dominated by regional tribal customs dating back hundreds if not thousands of years.
“Pakistan’s culture is again unique like the rest of the country. Pakistan’s geography is the meeting point of South Asia, Central Asia and West Asia/Gulf. Its culture could be termed as a combination of sub continental, Islamic, Regional, English, and more recently global influences. Let us consider them piecemeal. The newly born Pakistan had to have a sub continental leaning, having been a part of for last 5000 years of its civilization. However, the Indus Valley, present day Pakistan, culture was different from the rest of North India or South India”.
Pakistani literature originates from when Pakistan gained its nationhood as a sovereign state in 1947. The common and shared tradition of Urdu literatureand English literature of South Asia was inherited by the new state. Over a period of time, a body of literature unique to Pakistan has emerged in nearly all major Pakistani languages, including Urdu, English, Punjabi, Pashto, Seraiki, Balochi, and Sindhi.
Poetry is a highly respected art and profession in Pakistan. The pre-eminent form of poetry in Pakistan almost always originates in Persian, due in part to the long standing affiliation the region had with the Persian Empire. The enthusiasm for poetry exists at a regional level as well, with nearly all of Pakistan’s provincial languages continuing the legacy. Since the independence of the country in 1947 and establishment of Urdu as the national language, poetry is written in that language as well. The Urdu language has a rich tradition of poetry and includes the famous poets Dr. Allama Iqbal (national poet), Mirza Ghalib, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Ahmad Faraz, Jazib Qureshi, and Ahmad Nadeem Qasimi. Apart from Urdu poetry, Pakistani poetry also has blends of other regional languages. Balochi, Sindhi, Punjabi, Seraiki, and Pashto poetry have all incorporated and influenced Pakistani poetry. Poetry in the form of marsia salam and naath is also very popular among many Pakistanis.
The variety of Pakistani music ranges from diverse provincial folk music and traditional styles such as Qawwali and Ghazal Gayaki to modern forms fusing traditional and western music, such as the synchronisation of Qawwali and western music by the world renowned Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. In addition Pakistan is home to many famous folk singers such as the late Alam Lohar, who is also well known in Indian Punjab. The arrival of Afghan refugees in the western provinces has rekindled Pasto and Persian music and established Peshawar as a hub for Afghan musicians and a distribution center for Afghan music abroad.M:haseebullah rajput also a best singer.
The architecture of the areas now constituting Pakistan can be traced to four distinct periods: pre-Islamic, Hindu heritage, Buddhist culture, Islamic,colonial, and post-colonial. With the beginning of the Indus civilization around the middle of the 3rd millennium B.C., an advanced urban culturedeveloped for the first time in the region, with large structural facilities, some of which survive to this day. Mohenjo Daro, Harappa and Kot Diji belong to the pre-Islamic era settlements. The rise of Buddhism, Guptas, Mouryas, and the Persian and Greek influence led to the development of the Greco-Buddhist style, starting from the 1st century CE. The high point of this era was reached with the culmination of the Gandhara style. An example of Buddhist architecture is the ruins of the Buddhist monastery Takht-i-Bahi in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
The arrival of Islam in today’s Pakistan introduced the classical Islamic construction techniques into Pakistan’s architectural landscape. However, a smooth transition to predominantly picture-less Islamic architecture occurred. The town of Uch Sharif contains the tombs of Bibi Jawindi, Baha’al-Halim, and Jalaluddin Bukhari, which are considered some of the earliest examples of Islamic architecture in Pakistan and are on the UNESCO Tentative World Heritage Site list since 2004. One of the most important of the few examples of the Persian style of architecture is the tomb of the Shah Rukn-i-Alamin Multan. During the Mughal era, design elements of Islamic-Persian architecture were fused with, and often produced playful forms of, Hindustani art.Lahore, occasional residence of Mughal rulers, exhibits a multiplicity of important buildings from the empire, among them the Badshahi mosque, thefortress of Lahore with the famous Alamgiri Gate, the colourful, still strongly Persian seeming Wazir Khan Mosque as well as numerous other mosques and mausoleums. The Shahjahan Mosque of Thatta in Sindh also originates from the epoch of the Mughals, as does the Mohabbat Khan Mosque inPeshawar.
In the British colonial age, the buildings developed were predominantly of the Indo-European style, with a mixture of European and Indian-Islamic components. Post-colonial national identity is expressed in modern structures like the Faisal Mosque, the Minar-e-Pakistan and the Mazar-e-Quaid.
Culinary art in Pakistan comprises a mix of Middle Eastern, Iranian, Afghan, Indian, and Turkish influences that reflect the country’s history as well as the variation of cooking practices from across the surrounding regions. Urban centres of the country offer an amalgamation of recipes from all parts of the country, while food with specific local ingredients and tastes is available in rural areas and villages. Besides the main dishes of salan, with or withoutmeat and cooked with vegetables or lentils, there are a number of provincial specialties such as karahi, biryani, and tikka, in various forms and flavours, eaten alongside a variety of breads such as naan, chapati, and roti.
There are also local forms of grilled meat or kebabs, desserts, and a variety of hot and cold drinks.
The national dress is Shalwar Qameez for both men and women. It consists of a long, loose fitting tunic with very baggy trousers. The dress is believed to be an amalgamation of the dresses worn by the ancient Persians, and Mughal Empire who have left their impression on the people and culture of Pakistan.
The men’s version consists of solid, masculine colours, and is almost always accompanied by a collar and buttons (similar to a polo shirt). Men often wear an outer waistcoat over the shalwar kameez. The women’s version almost never contains collar and buttons but is often embroidered and consists of feminine colors and may feature lace or flower patterns.
In the summer, a light, cotton version is often worn, while during the winter, a heavier, wool version is worn.
The sherwani or achkan, with karakul hat is the recommended dress for male government employees and officials, as it is not specifically associated with any of the provinces. Most male government officials wear the formal black sherwani on state occasions.
A large Pakistani diaspora exists in the Western world and the Middle East. Whereas Pakistanis in the United States, Canada and Australia tend to be professionals, the majority of them in the United Kingdom, Germany and Scandinavia originally came from a rural background belonging to the working class. These emigrants and their children influence Pakistan culturally and economically, keeping close ties with their roots by travelling to Pakistan and especially by returning or investing there.
The vast majority of Pakistanis are Caucasoid by race but many other distinct minority are also present. The majority of Pakistanis are of average to above average height. Pakistan is notable for having several individuals in the Guinness Book of World Records, such as Alam Channa for the tallest man in the world. Pakistanis are diverse, many possessing dark hair and eyes but light coloured eyes and light coloured hair do occur in significant portions of the population as well, notably in the North amongst the Dardic, Kalash, Burusho, Wakhi, and north western Pashtun tribes. The typical Pakistani can range from light to dark brown skin tones with a few exceptions in mountainous regions of the north. Many of the people inhabiting Pakistan’s western regions share genetic affinities with ethnic groups in Iran,Afghanistan and Tajikistan. While the racial features of each ethnic group in Pakistan are not uniform, Chitralis and some of the Dardic tribes in the north are the most Caucasoid phenotypically, followed by the Pashtuns (also known as Pakhtuns), Kashmiris, Paharis/Potoharis, Balochis, Punjabis, and Sindhis, Muhajirs, andSeraikis. The Negroid people live along the Makran coast and are a small minority known as the Sheedi who came from East Africa in the 15th century. Panjabis, Seraiki and The Sindhis have considerable admixture and show a diverse phenotypic features representative of their multicultural history. The Mongoloid people also inhabit Pakistan are of Central Asian origin where oftentimes their racial elements are infused within the dominant Caucasoid genes of the vast majority of Pakistanis, however there are many instances in which some have retained their distinct racial characteristics. Pakistan’s genetic diversity is due to various factors including the numerous waves of migration from other regions and include Aryans mainly, in smaller amounts Greeks, Iranians, Arabs, Turks, Scythians, Afghans to name a few and also because of its geopolitical location straddling the Iranian Plateau, Central Asian, Tibetan, and South Asian genetic spheres and as a result, the phenotypic expression of its people is reflective of this diversity. Large influxes of refugees from the surrounding nations have further exacerbated this change (Muhajirs from India in 1947, Kashmiris refugees in 1948, Iranians in 1978, Afghans in the 1980s, Tajiks and Iraqis in 2001 etc..)