The Hindko of Pakistan
A Cluster of 2 Hindko groups in Pakistan
Pakistan is a land of great diversity—culturally, linguistically, and geographically. It has a population of nearly 140.5 million and is home to more than 90 distinct ethnic groups, including the Punjabi, Pathan, Sindhi, and Urdu. This great ethnic diversity is largely due to the fact that the region was repeatedly invaded throughout its history. The people of Pakistan come from ethnic groups such as the Dravidians, Indo-Aryans, Huns, Greeks, Scythians, Arabs, Mongols, Persians, and Afghani.
Often intermingled with the larger ethnic groups are many smaller groups, including the Hindko. Although they have a population of nearly four million and make up 2.4% of the country's total population, the Hindko fit into this category. They are primarily located in the Northwestern Frontiers province of northern Pakistan. They speak an Indo-Aryan language, also called Hindko, that is divided into two sub-groups, Northern and Southern, as well as a number of dialects, including Kaghani. Unfortunately, very little detail is known about the specific lifestyle or culture of this people group.
What are their lives like?
During the 1960's and 70's, dramatic increases in wheat production were made possible by the use of improved irrigation techniques and fertilizers. These increases enabled Pakistan to become agriculturally self-sufficient. Yet, there are still occasional shortages of staple items.
Wheat is the chief staple crop, and sugarcane is widely grown. Rice and cotton serve as the major export crops. Most of the farmers also raise livestock such as goats, sheep, cattle, buffalo, and camels. However, the production of meat and milk remains low due to inadequate feed and poor management.
The Hindko typically live in large extended family units. Family organization is strongly patriarchal, or male dominated. A woman's place in society is low, and she is expected to perform household chores and fulfill the role of a dutiful wife and mother.
In wealthy peasant and landowner households and in urban middle-class families, the women are kept in seclusion, or purdah. They are only allowed out of their houses on rare occasions, at which time they must be veiled. Houses of those who practice purdah contain separate quarters for the men and women. The men's section, or mardanah, is located in the front of the house, so that visitors do not disturb the women. The women are secluded in the zananah, or women's section. Among poor peasants, the women are not secluded since they are needed to help with the farm work.
Social organization revolves around kinship rather than strict social classes or castes. Beradari (tracing lineage through the male line) is the most important social institution. The Hindko generally marry within their own clans, and cross cousin marriages are preferred. Any disputes within the lineage are settled by a group of clan elders. This group also serves as the political representatives of the lineage.
What are their beliefs?
What are their needs?
Medical facilities, supplies, and trained personnel are also inadequate. Less than 8% of the population has access to pure drinking water, sewage disposal, and drainage facilities. Many people have health problems due to poor water quality and malnutrition.
The spiritual needs of the Hindko are also great. Though both groups are currently being targeted by missions agencies, only 1% of the Hindko know Jesus as their Savior.
Christian teachers, doctors, nurses, dentists, and humanitarian aid workers are needed to minister to the physical needs of the Hindko. Increased missions efforts, evangelistic materials, and dedicated laborers are needed to see the Hindko reached with the Gospel. Most importantly, intercession is needed to tear down the strongholds that are keeping them spiritually bound. Only then will their hearts be open to the Gospel as it is presented to them.
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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