Languages spoken in Pakistan belong to the family of Indo-Iranian range.
Urdu has historical significance because Urdu developed during the Islamic and Mughal Empire in the Indian Subcontinent. During that period Urdu was chosen as a neutral language to unite the different communities of Indian Subcontinent. Urdu gained prestige and patronage at Muslim courts and developed into a literary language. Urdu is the national language of Pakistan. It is closely related to Hindi but is written in an extended Arabic alphabet. Urdu has accepted many words from Arabic and Persian and Turkish.
Arabic and Persian:
Persian is widely spoken in Pakistan. It has a million speakers including refugees from Afghanistan (mainly from Tajiks and Hazaras). Both the languages are still taught as classical languages to a small number of students mainly in Madrassas. Arabic is popular due to its religious significance. Persian is an important literary language in Pakistan.
The majority of Pakistanis can speak or understand two or more languages.
The official language of Pakistan is English. Pakistan’s Constitution and laws are written in English. Many schools, and nearly all colleges and universities, use English as the medium of instruction. Urdu is the national language and it has been promoted as a token of national unity. 44% speak Punjabi as a first language, 15% Pashto, and 31% other languages such as (Sindhi, Seraiki, Balochi, Hindko spoken in northern Pakistan and Azad Kashmir also Mirpuri (AJK), and Brahui.)
Punjabi is spoken as a first language by 44% of Pakistanis, mostly in Punjab as well as by a large number of people in Karachi and in whole Pakistan. It is an important language and it is spoken by about half of Pakistanis. Punjabi does not have official status in Punjab or in Pakistan. Punjabi is spoken by almost 60% of the population in Pakistan. The standardized Punjabi dialects is from Lahore, Sialkot, Gujranwala and Sheikhupura districts of the Pakistani Punjab. Punjabi is also now days language of Punjabi literature, film and music. Other dialects are Multani or Siraiki in West and South, Pothowari in North, Dogri in the mountain areas and Shahpuri in Sargodha area.
Pashto is spoken as a mother tongue by 15% of Pakistanis, mostly in the North-West Frontier Province, Federally Administered Tribal Areas and in Baluchistan as well as by Afghan refugees. Pashto has two major dialect patterns; these are Pakhto, which is the northern (Peshawar) variety, and the softer Pashto spoken in southern areas. Khushal Khan Khatak (1613-1689) and Rehman Baba (1633-1708) were some big poets in Pashto language.
Sindhi is spoken as a first language by 14% of Pakistanis, in Sind and in parts of Baluchistan. Sindhi has very rich literature and is used as a literary language in schools. Sindhi language contains Arabic words and is written in extended Arabic alphabet with several additional letters to accommodate special sounds. Sindhi is spoken by about 20 million people in the southern Pakistani province of Sind, Southern Pakistan. The largest Sindhi-speaking city in Pakistan is Hyderabad. Shah Abdul Latif Bhattai (1689-1752) was one of its legendry poet of Sindhi literature who wrote Sassi Punnu, Umar Marwi in his famous book “Shah jo Rasalo”.
4% of Pakistanis, mostly in Baluchistan, Sind and southern Punjab speak Baluchi language. Baluchi language is very close to the Persian language itself. A series of migrations from Northern Iran, near the Caspian Shores brought the language to its present location. Rakshani is the major dialect group in Baluchistan.
Seraiki is related to Punjabi and Sindhi and it is spoken by 11% of Pakistanis, mostly in southern districts of Punjab as a mother tongue. Dialects tend to blend into each other, into Punjabi to the east, and Sindhi to the south. Seraiki has 85% lexical similarity with Sindhi; 68% with Odki and Sansi. Dialects are Derawali, Thalochi, Khatki, Jangli or Jatki and Riasti or Bahawalpuri.
There is a large Kashmiri speaking population in Pakistan, largely refugees as well who fled from the Vale of Kashmir. Mirpuri-Hindko, Pashto, Urdu Languages are spoken in Azad Kashmir region.
100,000 Pakistanis who are resident in Lower Punjab and Sind speak Gujrati language. Gujrati Is Spoken by Parsi (5,000), many Ismaili Muslims, and many Hindus (10,000 to 100,000).
Numerous other languages are spoken by relatively small numbers of people, especially in the isolated places for example, the Northern Areas of Pakistan. Such as Burshaski is Spoken in Hunza and Shina is spoken in Baltistan , Khowar is Spoken is Chitral and Kalash is spoken in the Kalash Valley.