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Total population
Regions with significant populations
Pashtu, Hindko, Urdu, Kandhari, Sindhi, Punjabi[2][3]
Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism[4]
Related ethnic groups
other Indo-Aryan peoples

Hindki (Pashto: هندکي‎) is the name given to an ethnic group who inhabit Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan. They are found all over the country.[1] H. W. Bellew, in his Races of Afghanistan, estimated their number at about 300,000.[1] The name Hindki is also loosely used by Pathans on the upper Indus, in Dir and Bajour, to denote the speakers of Punjabi or any of its dialects.[1][5] It is sometimes applied in a historical sense to the Buddhist inhabitants of the Peshawar Valley north of the Kabul River, who were driven thence about the 5th or 6th century C.E. and settled in the neighbourhood of Kandahar.[1]


British anthropologist Horace Arthur Rose says:

Hindki, a generic term, half contemptuous, applied to all Muhammadans who being of Hindu origin speak Hindko and have been converted to Islam in comparatively recent times. In Bannu the term usually denotes a Jat cultivator, but in a wider sense it includes all Muhammadans who talk Hindi, Panjabi or any other dialect derived from them.[6]

However, another explanation has little to do with Hinduism, as the British believed. That is, Hindko is likely derived from the Persian words for most mountainous regions along the Indus and Kabul rivers, as they tumble down towards the plains of Punjab and Sindh. In fact, other groups which have accepted Islam in the region, are now called only Nuristanis (people from the Land of Light), as opposed to Kafirstanis (infidel peoples) - suggesting that the Muslim community of Northern Pakistan does not use terminology suggestive of previous religious affiliations to describe any Muslim group in a mainstream manner. Some Pashtuns, in particular, do refer to Punjabis as Hindus as an insult to their perceived lax interpretation of Islam, but such terminology is not widespread, and the slur is not used to refer to Punjabis outside of an insulting context in general. Furthermore, such insults are used almost exclusively in reference to Punjabis, and not other ethnic groups such as Sindhis and Kashmiris, who are also descendants of converts to Islam, and in many ways maintain stronger Hindu influences than Punjabis.

Hindki meant Indian in Pashto which is used by Pashtuns to contrast Indic or Indo-Aryan cultures from the adjacent Turkic and Iranic peoples.

Hindkowans in Peshawar[edit]

Peshawar has historically had a significant population of Hindkowans. James Douis records of the population of Peshawar in 1916 that "Half of the people are Pathans, the rest are known generally as Hindkowans."[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Hindki". Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition. Retrieved 2007-09-14. 
  2. ^ "Introduction". Afghan Hindus and Sikhs. Retrieved 2007-09-15. 
  3. ^ "Hindus Abandon Afghanistan". Hinduism Today. Retrieved 2007-09-15. 
  4. ^ Majumder, Sanjoy (2003-09-25). "Sikhs struggle in Afghanistan". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2007-09-15. 
  5. ^ "Castes, Tribes, and Leading Families - Excerpts from the Gazetteer of the Kohat District". Khyber Gateway. Retrieved 2007-09-15. 
  6. ^ A glossary of the tribes and castes of the Punjab and North-West provinces, compiled by H A Rose, vol II Page 333
  7. ^ The Punajab North West Frontier Province and Kashmir by Sir James Douie Low price publications page 299

External links[edit]