‘Controversial’ 2017 Census (Latest Report): Urdu-speaking population declining in Karachi

Meanwhile, the number of Pashto, Saraiki, and Sindhi speakers has increased.

Char Minar Chowrangi, Bahadurabad, Karachi. (Shutterstock)

The percentage of the Urdu-speaking population has declined in Karachi.

This is due to the influx of other ethnic groups from various parts of the country into the metropolis.

This was revealed in the final results of the sixth Population & Housing Census 2017 published recently by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).

It is pertinent to note that the 2017 Census of Pakistan is considered ‘flawed‘ by several political parties, political experts, and even some elements of the federal government.

Karachi, the City of Lights, is a linguistically diverse metropolis. However, it has always been considered to be predominantly inhabited by Urdu-speaking people.

Read More: Four Four Unique Languages You Can Only Hear In Karachi!

Nevertheless, demographic changes over the last four decades, mainly caused by migration and other factors, have changed the numbers of various ethnic groups residing in the metropolis.

According to the recently published PBS report, the ratio of the Urdu and Punjabi-speaking masses has declined in the City of Lights.

However, the metropolis has witnessed a surge in the number of PashtoSaraiki, and Sindhi speakers.


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The ratio of the Urdu-speaking population in Karachi has gradually declined in Karachi over the last four decades.

Previously, in the 1981 census, the Urdu-speaking population constituted more than half of Karachi’s total population.

From 54.34% in 1981, the Urdu-speaking population declined to 48.52% in 1998 till 2017, and by 2017, it had fallen to 42.30%.

Apart from the migration of other ethnic groups, the Urdu-speaking population in Karachi has declined due to slightly lower birth rates, late marriages, and a ‘higher literacy rate.’


The number of Pashto/Pakhto speakers in Karachi has witnessed growth over the last four decades.

In 1981, the Pashto speakers consisted of 8.7% of the metropolis’ population.

In 1998, they had increased to 11.42%, and by 2017, their numbers accounted for 15.01% of the metropolis’ total population.


Karachi’s population of Punjabi speakers remained almost constant from 1981 till 1998.

However, the number of Punjabi speakers saw a decline over the last two decades.

Karachi’s Punjabi-speaking population was 13.64% and 13.94% in 1981 and 1998, respectively.

However, their numbers had fallen to 10.73% by 2017.


The number of Sindhi speakers in Karachi has increased over the last four decades.

The Sindhi-speaking population in the provincial capital was 6.29% in 1981 and 7.22% in 1998. By 2017, it had increased to 10.67%.


The number of Balochi speakers in Karachi has slowly dipped over the last four decades.

Karachi’s Balochi-speaking population was 4.39% in 1981 and 4.34% in 1998. By 2017, it had dipped to 4.04%.


The population of Saraiki-speakers in Karachi has increased over the last four decades.

In 1981, the metropolis’ Saraiki-speaking population was only 0.35%.

The numbers had climbed up to 2.11% in 1981, and by 2017, Karachi’s Saraiki-speaking population constituted 4.97%.

What are your views on this? Share with us in the comments below.

  • i know a lot of people are migrating from Karachi to Lahore and Islamabad. In 10 years time, we might see MQM winning seats in Lahore

  • punjabi population in karachi decreased due to unrest and terrorism of MQM,because bussines and job oppertunities are declining.

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