2017 census shows ratio of Urdu speakers decreasing in Karachi

2017 census

The ratio of Urdu speaking population has been decreased with an influx of people speaking other languages in Karachi, according to Pakistan’s 2017 census results.

The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) recently released the final results of the sixth Population and Housing Census 2017, which is considered ‘flawed’ by several political parties and experts and the federal government.

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Karachi is linguistically diverse, but has always considered to be predominantly populated by Urdu-speaking people. 

However, over the last 4 decades, demographic changes mainly caused by migration have slowly been changing the numbers of many ethnic communities living in the city. 

The decrease in the ratio of the Urdu and Punjabi-speaking populace in Karachi has been a result of the increase in Pashto, Sindhi and Saraiki-speaking people, the publication said. 

According to the census results, Sindh’s capital is the most populated city of Pakistan, with a total population of 16,024,894, after the addition of over 6 million people since 1998. 

The results include languages of Urdu, Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi, Balochi, Kashmiri, Saraiki, Hindko, and Brahvi. Other languages spoken in Karachi, including Gujarati, Marwari and Bengali, are included in the ‘others’ section. 

Urdu speakers in Karachi have decline from 54.34% to 42.30%

The publication highlighted some key findings from census results relating to the mother tongue of Karachi’s residents.  

In the 2017 census, the Urdu-speaking population has been stated as 6,779,142. The period between the 1981 and 1998 censuses indicates a substantial decline in the proportion of Urdu speakers in Karachi from 54.34% to 48.52%. From 1998 till 2017, that ratio has further declined to 42.30%.

Moreover, in 1981, the Pashto-speaking population in Karachi was 8.7%. It increased to 11.42% in 1998. In 2017, this figure jumped to 15.01%, with a total population of 2,406,011. 

Whereas, the Punjabi-speaking population constituted 13.64% of Karachi’s population in 1981 and 13.94% in 1998. But in the last 19 years, the percentage has decreased to 10.73% with a population of 1,719,636.  

The 2017 census shows an increase in the population in Karachi of people with Sindhi being their mother tongue. The Sindhi-speaking population in the metropolis was 6.29% in 1981 and 7.22% in 1998. However, in 2017, it jumped to 10.67%, with a population of 1,709,877. 

The Balochi-speaking population in Karachi was 4.39% in 1981 and 4.34% in 1998. However, in 2017, it declined to 4.04% with a population of 648,964. 

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