|20,000 - 120,000|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Karachi · Islamabad · Lahore · Hyderabad|
There are a large number of Iranians in Pakistan, the vast majority of whom live in Karachi and Lahore. Other colonies can be found in Faisalabad, Islamabad, Peshawer and in the city of Multan. Most Iranians in Pakistan are Shia Muslims, although a number of Sunnis and Parsis in Pakistan claim Iranian origins. By many other estimations there are around 1,377,000 - 2,000,000 people of Iranian descent in Pakistan, majority of whom practice Shia Islam. And most them have been settled in the country before the Independence of Pakistan in 1947.
There are also an unspecified number of Iranian illegal immigrants and refugees.
Apart from Iranians as a nationality, significant ethnic groups in Pakistan are classed as Iranic (ex. Pashtuns and Balochis) are speakers with languages from the Iranian language family and adjacent ethnic groups may have admixture from the Iranic ethnic groups ( Non-Pashto speaking Pashtuns, Brahuis and some Sindhis have Iranic heritage), moreover much of Pakistan that is roughly to the left of the Indus River (and the Indian faultline) has been geographically part of greater Iran, as opposed to the west of the river, wich is part of the Indian subcontinent.
Notable Pakistani people of Iranian descent include:
- Ardeshir Cowasjee
- Aga Khan III
- Nusrat Bhutto
- Lady Abdullah Haroon
- Hussain Haroon
- Hameed Haroon
- Zeba Bakhtiar
- Muhammad Ali Shahki
- Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani
- Nahid Mirza - wife of Iskander Mirza
In Pakistan, the Qizilbash are predominantly Twelver Shia Muslims with a significant Sunni Hanafi Muslim minority. The Qizilbash are an influential group found in almost all segments of Pakistani society particularly in the fertile provinces of Panjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Sindh. There are sizable populations in the city of Karachi, Multan, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta, Sialkot, Hyderabad and Rawalpindi.
The Qizilbash soldiers and officials settled in modern Pakistan during Mughal Emperor Humayun's return from exile in Safavid Persia and restoration of Mughal Empire. Emperor Humayun lost his South Asian territories to the Pashtun noble, Sher Shah Suri, and, with Persian aid, regained them 15 years later in 1555 AD. Humayun's return from Persia, accompanied by a large retinue of Persian noblemen and soldiers, signaled an important change in Mughal court culture, as the Central Asian origins of the dynasty were largely overshadowed by the influences of Persian art, architecture, language and literature.
Estimates vary from 3 to 5 million people may be descendants of the Qizilbash as they established several settlements principally in Pakistan in medieval times as well as in the urban centres of Afghanistan. Entire villages and sometimes districts were settled by the Qizilbash where many of their descendants can still be found to this day. Their numbers were further increased with the arrival of tens of thousands of Qizilbash refugees from neighboring Afghanistan when they were termed enemies of the state by the then Emir of Afghanistan for allegedly siding with the British Raj in the First Anglo-Afghan War (1839 to 1842). The British colonial government treated Qizilbash refugees as allies and settled them in modern Pakistan and granted them landholdings and official positions. The Qizilbash assimilated and married with the local Muslims. Qizilbash generation hierarchies are preserved in books published by the British during their Raj.
In Pakistan, the Qizilbash wield considerable influence both at a local social level within the respective community and tribe they live in as well as in the government as many prominent Qizilbash have attained positions in the Senate of Pakistan and one as President of Pakistan. The Qizilbash are known for their intellect, higher education and are well renowned as scholars all throughout Pakistan. They have produced many politicians, religious scholars, soldiers, doctors, lawyers and engineers within the country. Qizilbash are also found in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa principally in the city of Peshawar as well as in Balochistan. Pakistan's former President Yahya Khan was a Qizilbash. Muzaffar Ali Khan Qizilbash served as Finance Minister of Pakistan.
- Nasr, Vali, The Shia Revival (Norton), 2006, p.78
- Centuries—old Iranian new year celebrates life and all its glory - Daily Times Pakistan
- There are 1,000,000 Persian-speakers native to Pakistan and 220,000 Tajik war-refugees from Afghanistan remain in Pakistan. Ethnologue.com's entry for Languages of Pakistan. Census of Afghans in Pakistan.
- Five million illegal immigrants residing in Pakistan