Pakistanis in Spain

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Pakistanis in Spain
Pakistaníes en España
Total population
82,000 (2017 estimate)[1]
Regions with significant populations
Barcelona (especially El Raval)[2]
Punjabi, Urdu, English, other languages of Pakistan; Spanish and Catalan
Related ethnic groups
Pakistani diaspora

Pakistanis in Spain form one of the country's smaller migrant communities. Their numbers began to grow rapidly in the early 2000s.[4]

Migration history[edit]

Pakistanis began settling in Spain, mainly in the city center of Barcelona, as early as the 1970s, and most Pakistanis in Spain still reside there [5] However, it took until November 2006 for the Pakistani government to approve plans to open a consulate there.[6] They primarily trace their origins to the province of Punjab.[7] Migrants largely consist of men; according to Spain's Instituto Nacional de Estadística (INE), only 13% are women.[8] There are various conflicting data regarding the size of their community. 2004 figures from Pakistan's Ministry of Labour, Manpower, and Overseas Pakistanis show just 2,000 Pakistanis in Spain, which would make them the 15th-largest Pakistani community in Europe, or just 0.2% of the total number of Pakistanis in Europe.[9] In contrast, the INE gave a figure for the year 2009 of more than twenty-six times that, 53,691, which represented growth of 27.5% over the 2007 figure of 42,105.[10][8] Finally, some media reports around 2007 and 2008 give a figure of 70,000.[11][12]


Common areas of employment among the Pakistanis in Barcelona include in agriculture, as skilled tradespersons such as mechanics, carpenters, or welders, and in construction. A small proportion are engaged in the liberal professions, mainly medicine, law, and engineering. About four-tenths also run their own businesses.[13] Grocery stores, butchers' shops, clothing stores, mobile phone shops, and discount shops are some of the more common types of businesses.[14] The first halal butcher's shop in Barcelona was opened in 1983 by a Pakistani businessman.[15] About half remit money to their families in Pakistan.[16]


Punjabi is the most common first language among Pakistanis in Spain, reported by 63.6% of one survey group in Barcelona.[17] The national language Urdu is also widely spoken, but very few have it as their first language.[18] In the same survey, 95.4% stated that they could speak at least some Spanish, and 54.6% could also speak English; 12.9% also claimed some knowledge of Catalan, the language spoken in Barcelona where much of the Pakistani population in Spain lives.[3]


Islam is by far the most common religion among Pakistanis in Spain, and serves as an important marker of community belonging. In Solé Aubia and Rodríguez Roca's 2005 study, every single one of their 280 interviewees stated that he or she was a Muslim; of them, 82.5% indicated that they continued to practise Islam properly, while 13.2% claimed that they would like to practise it properly but were prevented by various constraints, and just 2.9% did not practise the religion because they did not want to.[14]

In Barcelona, the two mosques most frequented by Pakistanis are the Tariq ben Zyad Mosque and the Minhaj ul-Quran Mosque. The Tariq ben Zyad Mosque, on the calle Elisabets, was founded in 1981. It is named for Tariq ibn Ziyad, the general who led the Muslim conquest of Spain beginning in 711, and belongs to the Tablighi Jamaat movement.[19] The Minhaj ul-Quran Mosque, founded in 1997, is, as its name indicates, part of the Minhaj-ul-Quran International movement.[20]

Violent extremism[edit]

In October 2009, ten Pakistanis and one Indian, a group adhering to extremist Islamist ideology, were convicted by the Audiencia Nacional for possessing explosives and belonging to a terrorist group. Having connections to al-Qaeda and the Taliban, they had intended to plant explosives on the Barcelona Metro as the first of a series of attacks.[21]

Community relations[edit]

The presence of Pakistanis in Spain was not much noted by mainstream society until late in the year 2000. That year, the government passed amnesty laws which would enable foreigners residing in Spain illegally to regularise their status; however, as a result of being unable to meet the requirements, a group of about a hundred, among them many Pakistanis, barricaded themselves in two churches in Barcelona and declared a hunger strike, which would last from 20 January to 8 March 2001 and would attract an additional seven hundred protestors during that time.[22] Due to the limited knowledge of Spanish and Catalan languages among them, most Pakistanis do not have many personal relationships with Spaniards; in Barcelona, only 28.2% stated that they knew any Spaniards personally. There are few bloggers who translate the Spanish news in Urdu language and publish in there blog for the guidance of Urdu community in Spain. Nowadays Pakistani community is taking part in political activities in mainstream political parties.[14] Few Pakistanis have intermarried with local people and have children in Barcelona.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Solé Aubia & Rodríguez Roca 2005, p. 109
  3. ^ a b Solé Aubia & Rodríguez Roca 2005, p. 112
  4. ^ Solé Aubia & Rodríguez Roca 2005, p. 97
  5. ^ Moreras Palenzuela 2005, p. 121
  6. ^ "Sujaat announces to set up consulate in Barcelona", Pak Tribune, 6 November 2006, retrieved 3 December 2008
  7. ^ "Pakistan's new ambassador is received by Jordi Hereu", News, Barcelona City Council, 6 February 2008, retrieved 3 December 2008
  8. ^ a b INE 2007
  9. ^ Government of Pakistan 2005, p. 30
  10. ^ INE 2009
  11. ^ Sciolino, Elaine; Burnett, Victoria; Schmitt, Eric (10 February 2008), "Spanish find a Pakistani link in terror case", International Herald Tribune, retrieved 3 December 2008
  12. ^ "Spain, Pak to fight terror together", The Times of India, 25 April 2007, retrieved 3 December 2008
  13. ^ Solé Aubia & Rodríguez Roca 2005, p. 113
  14. ^ a b c Solé Aubia & Rodríguez Roca 2005, p. 110
  15. ^ Moreras Palenzuela 2005, p. 123
  16. ^ Solé Aubia & Rodríguez Roca 2005, p. 114
  17. ^ Solé Aubia & Rodríguez Roca 2005, p. 108
  18. ^ Solé Aubia & Rodríguez Roca 2005, p. 99
  19. ^ Moreras Palenzuela 2005, pp. 124–125
  20. ^ Moreras Palenzuela 2005, p. 127
  21. ^ "A Case Study of the January 2008 Suicide Bomb Plot in Barcelona". Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. 15 January 2009. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  22. ^ Solé Aubia & Rodríguez Roca 2005, p. 98
  23. ^ Migration Movements between Pakistan and South Western Europe:Pakistani migratory networks in Catalonia


Further reading[edit]

  • Valenzuela García, Hugo (December 2006), "Investigación-acción en contextos próximos y lejanos: consideraciones políticas en los estudios de caso de los pakistaníes en Barcelona y de los bumiputera en Malaysia", Actas del VII Congreso Internacional de la Sociedad Española de Antropología Aplicada, Santander: University of Cantabria

External links[edit]