Prayer Profile
The Hindko of Pakistan
A Cluster of 2 Hindko groups in Pakistan

[IMAGE] 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?
Although only one fourth of Pakistan's total land mass is suitable for farming, agriculture is the basis of the nation's economy. More than half of the people live in rural areas, and a majority of them are farmers. Unfortunately, sharecroppers who have little incentive to increase production have kept agricultural output low. In an attempt to reduce the number of sharecroppers, the government introduced land reforms and progressive taxes.

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?
About 97% of Pakistan's total population profess to be Muslim. Other religious groups include Hindus, Christians, Sikhs (those who combine elements of Hinduism and Islam), and a small number of Buddhists. The constitution defines Pakistan as an Islamic nation and guarantees religious freedom. In reality, however, there is much persecution of Christians within the nation. The Hindko are 99% Muslim, with approximately 1% of each subgroup being Christian.

What are their needs?
Only about 35% of the adults in Pakistan are literate. Although the constitution promises free primary education, less than half of all children actually receive it since educational facilities and teachers are severely lacking.

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.

Prayer Points

  • Ask the Lord to raise up laborers who are willing to invest long term service to the Hindko of Pakistan.
  • Pray that the Holy Spirit will grant wisdom and favor to the missions agencies that are targeting the Hindko.
  • Ask God to give the Hindko believers opportunities to share the love of Jesus with their own people.
  • Pray that the Pakistani government will be favorable toward Christians and will allow them to freely preach the Gospel.
  • Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will faithfully stand in the gap for the Hindko.
  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Hindko bound.
  • Ask God to send medical teams and humanitarian aid workers to minister to the needs of the Hindko.
  • Pray that strong local churches will be planted among the Hindko by the year 2000.
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