The Guhjali of Pakistan
Pakistan is a land characterized by great geographic, climatic, linguistic, religious, and ethnic diversity. With a population of nearly 140.5 million, it is home to more than 90 distinct ethnic groups, with the major ones being the Punjabi, Sindhi, Pathan, and Urdu. This rich, varied ethnological background is largely a result of repeated invasions during Pakistan's long history. The people come from such ethnic backgrounds as the Dravidian, Indo-Aryan, Greek, Scythian, Hun, Arab, Mongol, Persian, and Afghani.
Scattered throughout Pakistan and often intermingled with the larger ethnic groups are many smaller groups, one of which is the 9,500 Guhjali. They are located in the northeastern part of the nation and are neighbors of the Burusha. They speak a language called Wakhi, which is a part of the Indo-Aryan language family. Very little specific detail is known concerning the lifestyle and culture of the Guhjali.
What Are Their Lives Like
About 26% of Pakistan's land is suitable for farming, with most of that land being irrigated. Agriculture and related activities engage about half of the work force, and more than 65% of the people live in rural areas. Agricultural yield has been low because of the large number of sharecroppers who have little incentive to increase production. In an attempt to deal with the problem, governmental reforms and progressive taxes have been introduced. In the 1960's and 1970's, wheat production dramatically increased, due to the use of improved irrigation techniques and fertilizers. This enabled Pakistan to become agriculturally self-sufficient, but there are still occasional shortages of staple items.
Wheat is the staple crop, and sugarcane is widely grown. Cotton and rice are the major export crops. Though there is much livestock, the production of meat and milk remains low because of inadequate feed and poor management. Goats and sheep are the most common animals, followed by cattle, buffalo, and camels.
Family organization is patriarchal (dominated by the males), and most people live in large extended families. A woman's place in society is low, and she is restricted to domestic chores and to fulfilling the role of a dutiful wife and mother. In wealthy peasant and land owner households and in urban middle class families, women are kept in seclusion, or purdah. If they do leave the house, they must be veiled. Houses of those who practice purdah typically have a men's section (mardanah) at the front of the house, so that visitors do not disturb the women, who are secluded in the women's section (zananah). Poorer families do not generally practice purdah, since the women have duties on the farm.
Social structure revolves around kinship rather than caste. Beradari (tracing ancestry through the males) is the most important social institution. Men prefer to marry the daughters of their fathers' brothers; thus, among many groups, marriages are invariably within the beradari. The elders of a lineage constitute a council that settles disputes and represents the lineage to the outside world.
What Are Their Belief?
The dominant religion of Pakistan is Islam, which is followed by about 97% of the population. Hinduism and Christianity form the leading minority religions. The Guhjali are included in the majority, being 100% Muslim. The Pakistani constitution defines the country as an Islamic nation but guarantees freedom of religion. In reality, however, there is persecution of Christians.
What Are Their Needs?
Only about 35% of adult Pakistanis are literate. The constitution provides for five years of free primary education, but less than half of all children actually receive it. In addition, birth and death rates are high. The government has unsuccessfully attempted to lower fertility levels by encouraging female employment and family planning.
The Guhjali do not have any Christian resources in their own language, and no missions agencies are currently targeting them. Sustained intercession and pioneer missions efforts will be required to see the Guhjali penetrated with the Light of the Gospel.
- Ask the Lord to soften the hearts of Pakistan's leaders towards the preaching of the Gospel.
- Pray that Christian teachers will respond to the challenge of sharing their skills and their faith with the Guhjali.
- Ask the Lord to raise up qualified linguists to translate the Bible into the Wakhi language.
- Pray that the Jesus film and Christian radio broadcasts will be made available to the Guhjali.
- Ask the Lord Jesus to supernaturally reveal Himself to the Guhjali through dreams and visions.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Guhjali bound.
- Ask God to call faithful intercessors who will daily stand in the gap for the Guhjali.
- Pray for strong local churches to be established among the Guhjali by the year 2000.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Guhjali
- Country: Pakistan
- Their language: Wakhi (Vakhan)
- Largest religion:
- Christian: 0%
- Church members: 0
- Scriptures in their own language: None
- Jesus Film in their own language: None
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
- Mission agencies working among this people: 0
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 1,200 (13%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 8,300 (97%)
- Country: Pakistan
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 37
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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