Prayer Profile
The Western Punjabi of Pakistan

[IMAGE] The term "Punjabi" is used to describe both those who speak Punjabi and those who inhabit the Punjab region of India and Pakistan. It is derived from the Persian words panj (five) and ab (river). Punjabi is an Indo-European language having six main dialects. The 59.7 million Western Punjabi of Pakistan speak the dialect known as Lahnda or Western Panjabi.

The Punjab region of India and Pakistan is an ancient center of civilization that has been the main route of invasion and migration into India. Its chief historic cities are Lahore, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, and Patiala.

Modern Punjabi culture was largely shaped by the partitioning of India and Pakistan in 1947. This event resulted in massive migrations that separated the Muslims from the Hindus and Sikhs. (Sikhism is a combination of Islam and Hinduism.) At the cost of thousands of lives, millions of Hindus and Sikhs migrated eastward into India, and millions of Muslims moved westward into Pakistan.

What are their lives like?
While more than half (65%) of the Punjab region in Pakistan is rural, the Lahore district is 84% urban. Settlements in that region consist of rapidly growing towns that serve as educational and administrative centers. The cities also offer a full range of occupations; whereas, in the rural areas, most of the people are farmers, laborers, and specialized craftsmen.

The Punjab has long been one of the world's most important agricultural regions. In the Pakistan Punjab, the principal crops are cotton and wheat, which grow easily in the dry climate. Cotton is their primary cash crop, grown mainly for export.

Villages in the Punjab region have houses that are built closely together. The outer walls are joined together, protecting them from outsiders. Entrance into the village is through a stone gateway, or durwaza, which arches over the main road. It serves as an important meeting place for villagers, as well as a favorite stopping place for visiting merchants and traders.

The household, or ghar, is the center of social life for the Punjabi, whether they are rich or poor. The ghar is made up of those who contribute to and eat from a single hearth. All members of the ghar pool their earnings and make joint decisions regarding their savings, investments, and any major transactions. Families are formed and developed within the ghar.

Marriage is considered universal and necessary among all Punjabi. Residences are generally patrilocal, which means that young couples live in the husband's village near his parents. Marriages can still be arranged by parents, but this is rarely done without extensive discussions. Wedding ceremonies vary according to caste and religion; however, the bride's parents usually pay for the wedding. Even though in 1961 the Indian government forbid the giving of a dowry (the property that a wife or a wife's family gives to her husband upon marriage) this tradition still continues in Punjabi families.

Among the Punjabi, there is no overall system of social control. Instead, each social institution (such as homes, businesses, civil administration, religious organizations, and political organizations) has its own set of laws and disciplinary measures.

The staple diet of the Punjabi consists of bread and preserved or fresh vegetables.

What are their beliefs?
The Western Punjabi are primarily Hanafite Muslims; however, about 12% Punjabi are Muslims of the Ithna-Ashari or Ahmadi sects.

The Western Punjabi are not orthodox Muslims, but rather practice what is known as "folk Islam." Their beliefs are interwoven with a rich variety of local superstitions. They rely heavily on astrology, charms or amulets, and potions. They also believe that men have the power to curse others by giving them the "evil eye."

What are their needs?
There are a number of Christian resources available to the Western Punjabi. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of their population has responded. Prayer is the key to reaching these precious people with the Good News.

Prayer Points

  • Ask the Lord to grant wisdom and favor to the missions agencies that are targeting the Western Punjabi.
  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Western Punjabi bound.
  • Pray that churches will accept the challenge of adopting and reaching the Punjabi.
  • Pray that the Punjabi believers will rise to the challenge of taking the Gospel to their people.
  • Pray that God will reveal Himself to these precious people through dreams and visions.
  • Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the spiritual soil of Pakistan through worship and intercession.
  • Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Punjabi who will boldly declare the Gospel.
  • Ask the Lord to raise up strong churches among the Western Punjabi by the year 2000.

See also the following related groups:
the Punjabi Cluster;
the Eastern Punjabi of India; the Mirpur Punjapi of India; the Southern Punjabi of Pakistan; the Western Punjabi of Afghanistan; and the Punjabi of Kenya.

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Western Punjabi
  • Country: Pakistan
  • Their language: Lahnda
  • Population: (1990) 51,829,000
    (1995) 59,719,600
    (2000) 68,786,400
  • Largest religion: Muslim 94%
  • Christian: 2.7%
  • Church members: 1,612,429
  • Scriptures in their own language: New Testament
  • Jesus Film in their own language: None
  • Christian broadcasts in their own language: Available
  • Mission agencies working among this people: 5
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 28,486,200 (48%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 5,195,600 (9%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 23,290,600 (39%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 31,233,400 (52%)
  • Country: Pakistan
  • Population: (1990) 121,933,300
    (1995) 140,496,700
    (2000) 161,827,400
  • Major peoples in size order: Western Punjabi 42.5%
    Sindhi 11.6%
    Southern Punjabi 9.8%
    Eastern Pathan 7.9%
    Urdu 7.4%
  • Major religions: Muslims 96.7%
    Christians 1.8%
    Hindus 1.5%
  • Number of denominations: 37

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Bethany World Prayer Center

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