British Pakistanis

British Pakistanis (Urdu: پاکستانی نژاد برطانوی; also known as Pakistani British people or Pakistani Britons) are citizens or residents of the United Kingdom whose ancestral roots lie in Pakistan. This includes people born in the UK who are of Pakistani descent, and Pakistani-born people who have migrated to the UK. The majority of British Pakistanis originate from the Azad Kashmir and Punjab regions, with a smaller number from other parts of Pakistan including Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

British Pakistanis
پاکستانی نژاد برطانوی
Total population
 United Kingdom 1,174,983 (2011)'[1][lower-alpha 1] England: 1,112,282 (2011)
Scotland: 49,381 (2011)
Wales: 12,229 (2011)
Northern Ireland: 1,091 (2011)
1.8% of the UK's population (2011)[1]
Regions with significant populations
West Midlands, Greater London, Yorkshire and the Humber, North West England
English (British and Pakistani) · Urdu · Potohari, Mirpuri and Kashmiri · Punjabi · Pashto · Saraiki · Sindhi · Balochi · others
Islam (Sunni, Shi'ite, Sufism, Ahmadiyya)
Minority: Christianity · Hinduism · Sikhism · others
Related ethnic groups
Overseas Pakistani · British Asian · British Indian · British Bangladeshi · British Afghan

The UK is home to the largest Pakistani community in Europe, with the population of British Pakistanis exceeding 1.17 million based on the 2011 census. British Pakistanis are the second-largest ethnic minority population in the United Kingdom and also make up the second-largest sub-group of British Asians. In addition, they are one of the largest overseas Pakistani communities, similar in number to the Pakistani diaspora in Saudi Arabia.[2][3]

Due to the historical relations between the two countries, immigration to the UK from the region which is now Pakistan began in small numbers in the mid-19th century. During the mid-nineteenth century, parts of what is now Pakistan came under the British Raj and people from those regions served as soldiers in the British Indian Army, and some were deployed in other parts of the British Empire. However, it was following the Second World War, the break-up of the British Empire and the independence of Pakistan, that Pakistani immigration to the United Kingdom increased, especially during the 1950s and 1960s. This was made easier as Pakistan was a member of the Commonwealth.[4] Pakistani immigrants helped to resolve labour shortages in the British steel, textile and engineering industries. Doctors from Pakistan were recruited by the National Health Service in the 1960s.[5]

The British Pakistani population has grown from about 10,000 in 1951 to over 1.1 million in 2011.[1][6] The vast majority of these live in England, with a sizable number in Scotland and smaller numbers in Wales and Northern Ireland. The most diverse Pakistani population is in London which comprises Punjabis, Mirpuri Kashmiris, Pashtuns, Sindhis, Muhajirs, Saraikis, Baloch and others.[2][7]

The majority of British Pakistanis are Muslim; around 90 per cent of those living in England and Wales at the time of the 2011 UK Census stated their religion was Islam.[8][9] The majority are Sunni Muslims, with a significant minority of Shia Muslims. The UK also has one of the largest overseas Christian Pakistani communities; the 2011 census recorded around 17,000 Christian Pakistanis living in England and Wales, around 1 per cent of the Pakistani population of England and Wales.

Since their settlement, British Pakistanis have had diverse contributions and influence on British society, politics, culture, economy and sport. Whilst social issues include high relative poverty rates among the community according to the 2001 census,[10] significant progress has been made in recent years, with the 2011 Census showing British Pakistanis as having amongst the highest levels of home ownership in Britain.[11]

A large number of British Pakistanis have traditionally been self-employed, with a significant number working in the transport industry or in family-run businesses of the retail sector.[2]



The earliest period of Asian migration to Britain has not been ascertained. It is known that Romani (Gypsy) groups such as the Romanichal and Kale arrived in the region during the Middle Ages, having originated from North India and Pakistan and traveled westward to Europe via Southwest Asia around 1000 CE, intermingling with local populations over the course of several centuries.[12][13][14]

Immigration from what is now Pakistan to the United Kingdom began long before the independence of Pakistan in 1947. Muslim immigrants from Kashmir, Punjab, Sindh, the North-West Frontier and Balochistan as well as other parts of South Asia, arrived in the British Isles as early as the mid-seventeenth century as employees of the East India Company, typically as lashkars and sailors in British port cities.[15][16] These immigrants were often the first Asians to be seen in British port cities and were initially perceived as indolent due to their reliance on Christian charities.[17] Despite this, most early Pakistani immigrants married local white British women because there were few South Asian women in Britain at the time.[18]

During the colonial era, Asians continued coming to Britain as seamen, traders, students, domestic workers, cricketers, political officials and visitors, and some of them settled in the region.[19] South Asian seamen sometimes settled after ill treatment or being abandoned by ship masters.[20][21]

Many early Pakistanis came to the UK as scholars and studied at major British institutions, before later returning to British India. An example of such a person is Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. Jinnah came to the UK in 1892 and started an apprenticeship at Graham's Shipping and Trading Company. After completing his apprenticeship, Jinnah joined Lincoln's Inn where he trained as a barrister. At 19, Jinnah became the youngest person from South Asia to be called to the bar in Britain.[22]

British interwar period

Most early Pakistani settlers (then part of the British India Empire) and their families moved from port towns to the Midlands, as Britain declared war on Germany in 1939. Many of these Kashmiris, Punjabis and Sindhis worked in the munition factories of Birmingham. After the war, most of these early settlers stayed on in the region and took advantage of an increase in the number of jobs.[23] These settlers were later joined by the arrival of their families to Britain.[24]

In 1932, the Indian National Congress survey of 'all Indians outside India' (Which Pakistani regions were then part of) estimated that there were 7,128 Indians in the United Kingdom.[25]

There were 832,500 Muslim Indian soldiers in 1945; most of these recruits were from what is now Pakistan.[26] These soldiers fought alongside the British Army during the First and Second World Wars, particularly in the latter, during the Battle of France, the North African Campaign and the Burma Campaign. Many contributed to the war effort as skilled labourers, including as assembly-line workers in the aircraft factory at Castle Bromwich, Birmingham, which produced Spitfire fighters.[26] Most returned to the South Asia after their service, although many of these former soldiers returned to Britain in the 1950s and 1960s to fill labour shortages.


Following the Second World War, the break-up of the British Empire and the independence of Pakistan, Pakistani immigration to the United Kingdom increased, especially during the 1950s and 1960s. Many Pakistanis came to Britain following the turmoil during the partition of India and the subsequent independence of Pakistan; among them were those who migrated to Pakistan upon displacement from India, and then migrated to the UK, thus becoming secondary migrants.[27] Migration was made easier as Pakistan was a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.[4] Pakistanis were invited by employers to fill labour shortages which arose after the Second World War.

As Commonwealth citizens, they were eligible for most British civic rights. They found employment in the textile industries of Lancashire and Yorkshire, manufacturing in the West Midlands, and car production and food processing industries of Luton and Slough. It was common for Pakistani employees to work on night shifts and at other less-desirable hours.[28]

Many Mirpuris began emigrating from Pakistan after the completion of Mangla Dam in Mirpur, Azad Kashmir, in the late 1950s led to the destruction of hundreds of villages. Up to 5,000 people from Mirpur (five per cent of the displaced)[29] left for Britain, while others were allotted land in neighbouring Punjab or used monetary compensation to resettle elsewhere in Pakistan.[27] The displaced Mirpuris were given legal and financial assistance by the British contractor which had built the dam.[30] Those from unaffected areas of Pakistan, such as the Punjab, also immigrated to Britain to help fill labour shortages. Punjabis began to leave Pakistan in the 1960s. They worked in the foundries of the English Midlands, and a significant number also settled in Southall in West London.[31]

During the 1960s, a considerable number of Pakistanis also arrived from urban areas. Many of these people were qualified teachers, doctors, and engineers.[28] They had a predisposition to settle in London due to its greater economic opportunities compared to the Midlands or the North of England.[28] Most medical staff from Pakistan were recruited in the 1960s and almost all worked for the National Health Service.[32] At the same time, the number of Pakistanis coming as workers declined.[27]

In addition, there was a stream of migrants from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).[24][33] During the 1970s, a large number of East African Asians, most of whom already held British passports because they were brought to Africa by British colonialists, entered the UK from Kenya and Uganda. Idi Amin chose to expel all Ugandan Asians in 1972 because of the perception that they were responsible for the country's economic stagnation.[34] The Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962 and Immigration Act 1971 largely restricted any further primary immigration to the UK, although family members of already-settled immigrants were allowed to join their relatives.[35]

The early Pakistani workers who entered the UK came with the intent of staying and working temporarily and eventually returning home. However, this changed into permanent family immigration since the 1962 Act, as well as due to socio-economic circumstances and the future of children which most families saw in Britain.[27]

When the UK experienced deindustrialisation in the 1970s, many British Pakistanis became unemployed. The change from the manufacturing sector to the service sector was difficult for ethnic minorities and white Britons alike, especially for those with little academic education. The Midlands and North of England were areas which were heavily reliant on manufacturing industries and the effects of deindustrialisation continue to be felt in these areas.[36] As a result, increasing numbers of British Pakistanis have resorted to self-employment. National statistics from 2004 show that one in seven British Pakistani men work as taxi drivers, cab drivers or chauffeurs.[37]



In the 2011 UK Census, 1,174,983 residents classified themselves as ethnically Pakistani (excluding people of mixed ethnicity), regardless of their birthplace with 1,112,212 of these living in England.[1] The equivalent figure in the 2001 UK Census was 747,285, an increase of 427,000 over 10 years.[39]

Of those Pakistanis living in England, Wales and Scotland in 2001, 55 per cent were born in the UK, 36.9 per cent in Pakistan and 3.5 per cent elsewhere in Asia.[38] According to estimates by the Office for National Statistics, the number of people born in Pakistan living in the UK in 2013 was 502,000.[40]

The Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis of the Pakistan government estimates that 1.26 million Pakistanis eligible for dual nationality live in the UK, constituting well over half of the total number of Pakistanis in Europe.[6][41]

The majority of British Pakistanis are from the Azad Kashmir and Punjab areas of Pakistan,[7] with Azad Kashmiris making up the largest and Punjabis making up the second largest portion. A high proportion of the members of Pakistani communities in the West Midlands and the North originated in Azad Kashmir.[42]

Large communities from Azad Kashmir can be found in Birmingham, Bradford, Oldham and the surrounding northern towns.[7] Luton and Slough have the largest Mirpuri Kashmiri communities in the south of England, while a large proportion of Punjabis also reside in the south.[28] There is also a small Pakistani Pashtun population in the UK.[43]

Up to 250,000 Pakistanis come to the UK each year, for work, visit or other purposes.[44] Likewise, up to 270,000 British citizens travel to Pakistan each year, mainly to visit family.[44][45] Pakistan International Airlines flies to several UK airports, providing air linkages between Pakistan and the UK.[46]

Demographer Ceri Peach has estimated the number of British Pakistanis in the 1951 to 1991 censuses. He back-projected the ethnic composition of the 2001 census to the estimated minority populations during previous census years. The results are as follows:

Year Population (rounded to nearest 1,000)[47]
1951 (estimate)10,000
1961 (estimate)25,000
1971 (estimate)119,000
1981 (estimate)296,000
1991 (estimate)477,000
2001 (actual)747,000
2011 (actual)1,175,000[1]

Population distribution

At the time of the 2011 UK Census, the distribution of people describing their ethnicity as Pakistani was as follows:[1]

Region Number of British Pakistanis Percentage of total British Pakistani population British Pakistanis as percentage of region's population
England 1,112,282 94.7% 2.10%
North East England 19,8311.69%0.76%
North West England 189,43616.12%2.69%
Yorkshire and the Humber 225,89219.23%4.28%
East Midlands 48,9404.17%1.08%
West Midlands 227,24819.34%4.06%
East of England 66,2705.64%1.13%
London 223,79719.05%2.74%
South East England 99,2468.45%1.15%
South West England 11,6220.99%0.22%
Wales 12,2291.04%0.40%
Scotland 49,3814.24%0.93%
Northern Ireland 1,0910.09%0.06%
Total UK 1,174,983100%1.86%


Greater London has the largest Pakistani community in the United Kingdom. The 2011 census recorded 224,000 British Pakistanis living in London.[48] However, it only forms 2.7 per cent of London's population, which is significantly lower than certain other British cities despite their lower overall Pakistani population. This population is made up of Punjabis, Mirpuris, Pashtuns, Sindhis, Muhajirs and Baloch.[49] This mix comparably makes the British Pakistani community of London more diverse than other communities in the UK, whereas a high proportion of Pakistani communities in the West Midlands and the North came from Azad Kashmir.[28]

The largest concentrations are in East London,[49] with the largest communities found in places including Ilford, Leyton, Walthamstow, Newham borough and Barking. Significant communities can also be found in the boroughs of Brent, Ealing and Hounslow in West London and Wandsworth and Croydon in South London.[50]

A considerable number of Pakistanis have set up their own businesses, often employing family members.[49] Today, a fifth of Pakistani Londoners are self-employed.[49] Businesses such as grocery stores and newsagents are common, while later arrivers commonly work as taxi drivers or chauffeurs.[49] Well-known British Pakistanis from London include Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London; Anwar Pervez, whose Earl's Court grocery store expanded into the Bestway chain with a turnover of £2 billion,[51] and the playwright and author Hanif Kureishi.[52]


Birmingham has the second largest Pakistani community in the United Kingdom. The 2011 census recorded that there were 144,627 Pakistanis living in Birmingham, making up 13.5 per cent of the city's total population.[1]

The largest concentrations are in inner city Birmingham and areas such as Sparkhill, Small Heath, Bordesley Green, Balsall Heath, Aston, Ward End, Lozells, Nechells, Alum Rock and Washwood Heath. Wealthy middle-class Pakistanis tend to live in Hall Green and Yardley.[53][54]

The majority of "Brummie" Pakistanis can trace their roots to Azad Kashmir, with large minorities from Punjab and more recently, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The BBC sitcom Citizen Khan is set among the Pakistani community of Sparkhill, described as "the capital of British Pakistan."


The 2011 Census recorded 106,614 Pakistanis in Bradford. This was 20.4 per cent of the total population.[1]

The majority of British Pakistanis in Bradford can trace their roots to the Mirpur District of Azad Kashmir.[55]


Pakistanis make up the largest ethnic minority in Scotland, representing nearly one third of the ethnic minority.[56] The 2011 census recorded 22,405 Pakistanis in Glasgow, 3.78% of the city's total population.[57]

There are large Pakistani communities throughout the city, notably in the Pollokshields area of South Glasgow, where there are said to be some "high standard" Pakistani takeaways and Asian fabric shops.[58] The majority came from the central Punjab part of Pakistan, including Faisalabad and Lahore.[59]

A survey by the University of Glasgow found that Scottish Pakistanis felt more Scottish than English people living there, and that their preferred political party was the Scottish National Party.[60] Glaswegian Humza Yousaf, of the SNP, who has served as the Minister for Transport and the Islands in the devolved Scottish Government since 18 May 2016, is of partly Pakistani descent.


Pakistanis are the largest ethnic minority in Manchester, where they made up 3.8 per cent of the inner city's population in 2001.[61] Large Pakistani populations are also to be found in the Greater Manchester boroughs of Oldham and Rochdale, where they constituted 4.1 and 5.5 per cent of the population, respectively.[61]

In 2011, the ethnic Pakistani population of Manchester City had risen to 42,904, or 8.5% of the city's total population.[62] In the wider area of Greater Manchester, there were 130,012 people of Pakistani ethnicity, or 4.8 per cent of the population.[63] With greater prosperity, a recent trend has seen some of Manchester's Asian community move out of the inner city into more spacious suburbs, though British Pakistanis in Oldham and Rochdale remain less transient due to lower economic opportunities in these towns.[31]

A significant number of Manchester-based Pakistani business families have moved down the A34 road to live in the affluent Heald Green area.[64] Academics have associated the suburban movement of Pakistani-origin Muslims in Manchester with the formation of "gilded ghettoes" in the sought-after commuter suburbs of Cheshire.[31]

In 2018, Manchester was the venue for a fundraising telethon held to help crowdfund a major dam project in Pakistan.[65]


The 2011 census recorded 16,771 British Pakistanis in Nottingham.[63] There are a number of areas where Pakistanis have businesses and a number of 'Curry mile' streets as in Radford Road, Alfreton Road and Sneinton Dale Road. Within Bobbersmill and Forest Fields areas, Pakistanis are 17.4% of the total population.[66]

Nottingham also plays a part in the political system in Pakistan with North/West Nottingham often holding talks for the Muslim League Party whilst East and South Nottingham hold talks for the Pakistan Peoples Party with then Benazir Bhutto visiting the Pakistan Centre in St Ann's in 2003.[67]


The 2011 census recorded 22,492 Pakistanis, 3% of the Leeds population. [68]


The majority of Pakistanis in the UK (over 90%) are Muslims. The largest proportion of these belong to the Sunni branch of Islam, with a significant minority belonging to the Shia branch.[7] Other notable sects include Ahmadiyya (whose spiritual leader, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, is based in London)[69] and Sufism. Mosques, community centres and religious youth organisations play an integral part in British Pakistani social life.[70]

Pakistanis account for 38 per cent of all Muslims in England and Wales.[8] This figure varies from a high of 71 per cent in Yorkshire and The Humber to a low of 21.5 per cent in Greater London. In England and Wales, there are around 17,000 Pakistani Christians, and slightly fewer Hindus, Sikhs, Zoroastrians (mainly Parsis)[71] and others.

The overall religious breakdown of British Pakistanis living in England and Wales in 2011 was:

Religion Percentage of British Pakistani population in England and Wales[8]
Islam 91.46%
Not stated 5.16%
Christianity 1.52%
None 1.07%
Hinduism 0.34%
Sikhism 0.29%
Buddhism 0.06%
Other religion 0.05%
Judaism 0.04%


Most British Pakistanis speak English, and those who were born in the UK consider British English to be their first language. Pakistani English is spoken by first-generation and recent immigrants. Urdu, the national language of Pakistan, is understood and spoken by many British Pakistanis at a native level, and is the fourth-most commonly spoken language in the UK.[72][73] Urdu is taught in some secondary schools and colleges for GCSEs and A Levels.[74] It is also offered in madrassas along with Arabic.[75][76]

As the majority of Pakistanis in Britain are from Azad Kashmir and Punjab, some common languages spoken amongst Pakistanis in Britain are Punjabi, Potohari, Mirpuri and Hindko, which are closely related dialects of Punjabi.[77] Other Punjabi dialects are also spoken in Britain, making Punjabi the third-most commonly spoken language.[72][78]

Other significant Pakistani languages spoken include Pashto, Saraiki, Sindhi, Balochi and a minority of others. The number of speakers of such languages (as a primary language) in the United Kingdom, based on an Ethnologue report, are shown below. Some of these languages are not only spoken by British Pakistanis, but also by other groups such as British Indians, British Afghans or British Iranians; these are indicated by asterisks.[79]

Primary language Speakers
Punjabi* 573,500
Urdu* 400,000
Pashto* 162,000
Memoni* 140,000
Kashmiri* 115,000
Saraiki* 30,000
Sindhi* 25,000
Balochi* NA


Many British Pakistanis have emigrated from the UK, establishing a diaspora of their own. There are around 80,000 Britons in Pakistan,[80][81] a substantial number of whom are British Pakistanis who have resettled in Pakistan. The town of Mirpur in Azad Kashmir, where the majority of British Pakistanis hail from, has a large expatriate population of resettled British Pakistanis and is dubbed "Little England".[82][83][84]

Other British Pakistanis have migrated elsewhere to Europe, North America, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. Dubai, UAE remains a popular destination for British Pakistani expatriates to live in, mainly because of its modern lifestyle and work opportunities, Muslim culture, and convenient location between the UK and Pakistan.[85]


Pakistan's Independence Day is celebrated on 14 August of each year. The celebrations and events usually take place in large Pakistani-populated areas of various cities, primarily on Green Street in Newham, London, and the Curry mile in Manchester. The colourful celebrations last all day, with various festivals. Pakistani Muslims also observe the month of Ramadan and mark the Islamic festivals of Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr.[86]

The annual Birmingham Eid Mela attracts more than 20,000 British Pakistanis to celebrate the festival of Eid. The Eid Mela also welcomes Muslims of other ethnic backgrounds. The sounds of top international and UK Asian artists participate who join in the fun and help celebrate the nationwide Muslim community through its culture, music, food and sport.[87]

The UK is also an attractive market for Asian retail. Green Street in East London is a prime destination for shopping, hosting Europe's "first Asian shopping mall".[88] A number of high-end Pakistani fashion and other retail brands have opened stores in the UK.[89][90]


Pakistani and South Asian cuisines are highly popular in Britain and have nurtured a largely successful food industry. The cuisine of Pakistan is strongly related to North Indian cuisine, coupled with an exotic blend of Arabic, Afghan, Central Asian, Persian and Turkish flavours.[91] The Pakistani language Urdu is also a mixture of Arabic, Persian and Turkish,[92] which shows and reflects the unity between the linguistic and culinary aspects of Pakistani culture. Mirpuri cuisine and Punjabi cuisine are well represented in Britain, reflecting the ethnic backgrounds of the Pakistanis who live in Britain.

The popular Balti dish has its roots in Birmingham, where it was believed to have been created by a Pakistani immigrant of Balti origin in 1977. The dish is thought to have borrowed native tastes from the northern Pakistani region of Baltistan in Kashmir.[93] In 2009, the Birmingham City Council attempted to trademark the Balti dish to give the curry Protected Geographical Status alongside items such as luxury cheese and champagne.[94] The area of Birmingham where the Balti dish was first served is known locally as the "Balti Triangle" or "Balti Belt".[95][96]

Chicken tikka masala has long been amongst the nation's favourite dishes, and is claimed to have been invented by a Pakistani chef in Glasgow, though its origins remain disputed.[97][98] There has been support for a campaign in Glasgow to obtain European Union Protected Designation of Origin status for it.[99]

Pakistanis are well represented in the British food industry. Many self-employed British Pakistanis own takeaways and restaurants. "Indian restaurants" in the North of England are almost entirely Pakistani owned.[100] According to the Food Standards Agency, the South Asian food industry in the UK is worth £3.2 billion, accounting for two thirds of all eating out, and serving about 2.5 million British customers every week.[101] Mirpuri and Punjabi origin curry sauces are sold in British supermarkets by British Pakistani entrepreneurs such as Manchester-born Nighat Awan. Awan's Asian food business, Shere Khan, has made her one of the richest women in Britain.[102]

Successful fast-food chains founded by British Pakistanis include Chicken Cottage[103] and Dixy Chicken.[104]


The expansion of the British Empire led to cricket being played overseas.[105] Cricket is a core part of Pakistani sporting culture and is often played by British Pakistanis for leisure and recreation.[106] Aftab Habib, Usman Afzaal, Kabir Ali, Owais Shah, Sajid Mahmood, Adil Rashid, Amjad Khan, Ajmal Shahzad, Moeen Ali, Zafar Ansari and Saqib Mahmood have played cricket for England.[107][108] Similarly, Asim Butt, Omer Hussain, Majid Haq, Qasim Sheikh and Moneeb Iqbal have represented Scotland. Prior to playing for England, Amjad Khan represented Denmark, the country of his birth. Imad Wasim became the first Welsh-born cricketer to represent Pakistan.[109][110] Former Pakistani cricketer Azhar Mahmood moved his career to England and became a naturalised British citizen.[111] There are several other British Pakistanis, as well as cricketers from Pakistan, who play English county cricket.[112]

Many young British Pakistanis find it difficult to make their way to the highest level of playing for England, despite lots of talent around the country. Many concerns about this have been documented although the number of British Pakistanis making progress in representing England is on the rise.[113]

The Pakistan national cricket team enjoys a substantial following among British Pakistanis, with the level of support translating to the equivalent of a home advantage whenever the team tours the UK. The "Stani Army" are a group consisting of British Pakistanis who follow the team especially when they play in the UK. The Stani Army are seen as the "rival" fan club to India's "Bharat Army". [114][115][116][117][118] England and Pakistan share a long cricketing relationship, often characterised by rivalries.[119][120]

Football is also widely followed and played by many young British Pakistanis (see British Asians in association football). Many players in the Pakistan national football team are British-born Pakistanis who became eligible to represent the country due to their Pakistani heritage. Zesh Rehman is a football defender who briefly played for Fulham F.C., becoming the first British Asian to play in the Premier League, before also playing for the English national U-18, U-19 and U-20 football teams until eventually opting for Pakistan.

Other notable British Pakistani footballers include Adnan Ahmed, Amjad Iqbal, Atif Bashir, Iltaf Ahmed, Kashif Siddiqi, Reis Ashraf, Shabir Khan and Usman Gondal. Hockey and polo are commonly played in Pakistan, with the former being a national sport, but these sports are not as popular among British Pakistanis, possibly due to the urban lifestyles which the majority of them embrace. Imran Sherwani was a hockey player of Pakistani descent who played for the English and Great Britain national field hockey teams.[121]

Adam Khan is a race car driver from Bridlington, Yorkshire. He represents Pakistan in the A1 Grand Prix series. Khan is currently the demonstration driver for the Renault F1 racing team.[122] Ikram Butt was the first South Asian to play international rugby for England in 1995.[123] He is the founder of the British Asian Rugby Association and the British Pakistani rugby league team, and has also captained Pakistan. Amir Khan is the most famous British Pakistani boxer. He is the current WBA World light welterweight champion and 2004 Summer Olympics silver medalist.[124] Matthew Syed was a table tennis international, and the English number one for many years.[125] Lianna Swan is a swimmer who has represented Pakistan in several events.[126]


A number of British Pakistani writers are notable in the field of literature. They include Tariq Ali, Kamila Shamsie, Nadeem Aslam, Mohsin Hamid and others.[127]

Through their publications, diaspora writers have developed a body of work that has come to be known as Pakistani English literature.

Ethnicity and cultural assimilation

A report conducted by The University of Essex found that British Pakistanis identify with 'Britishness' more than any other Britons. The study is one of several recent studies that have found that Pakistanis in Britain express a strong sense of belonging in Britain. The report showed that 90% of Pakistanis feel a strong sense of belonging in Britain compared to 84% of white Britons.[128]

English Pakistanis tend to identify much more with the United Kingdom than with England, with 63% describing themselves in a Policy Exchange survey as exclusively "British" and not "English" in terms of nationality, and only 15% saying they were solely English.[129]

Azad Kashmiris

Around 70% of all British Pakistanis trace their origins to the region of Mirpur in Azad Kashmir, northeastern Pakistan, including the towns of Dadyal, Chakswari, Islamgarh, Khari Sharif, Prahi, Bajjar and surrounding villages. Some also originate from the neighbouring districts of Bagh, Muzaffarabad, Rawalakot, Neelum, Bhimber and Kotli.[23][130][131] Pahari-Potwari dialects, spoken natively by Mirpuri immigrants, figure as the most commonly spoken languages of the British Pakistani community after English. Whilst these people may identify as "Kashmiris", most of them are not ethnic Kashmiris; rather, their native regions came under the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir in 1846.

The first generation migrant Mirpuris were not highly educated, and being from rural settlements, had little or no experience of urban living in Pakistan.[3] Migration from Mirpur and its adjacent areas started soon after the second world war as the majority of the male population of this area and the Potohar region worked in the British armed forces, as well as to fill labour shortages in industry. But the mass migration phenomenon accelerated in the 1960s, when, for improving water supply, the Mangla Dam project was built in the area, flooding the surrounding farmlands. Up to 5,000 people from Mirpur (five per cent of the displaced) resettled in Britain. The British contractor undertaking the project provided assistance to the displaced Mirpuris.

More Mirpuris joined their relatives in Britain after availing government compensation and liberal migration policies. Cities with large concentration of Mirpuris are Manchester, Bradford, Birmingham, Leeds and Luton.[23] Today, there are an estimated 700,000 people from Azad Kashmir residing in the UK.[23]

Mirpur was considered to be a conservative district in the 1960s, and life in its rural villages like most of the South Asian countries, was dominated by rigid hierarchies. Economic boom brought dramatic changes to the area after its residents started migrating to Europe, especially the UK, bolstering remittances. Families in Pakistan tend to be close knit and the guiding influence behind everything from marriage to business.[132] These Asian cultural values have clashed with British ones, which tend to be more free thinking and independent. Mirpuri migrants lived in some of the most segregated areas of Britain, and their children attended the most segregated schools.[133]

The British government has made attempts to improve community cohesion by nurturing a sense of shared or collective national identity. One programme designed to encourage greater social mixing includes the busing of students of Pakistani origin to "white schools" in an attempt to bridge the divide between the British Pakistani and white British ethnic groups.[134]

The Mirpuri community has made significant economic progress over the years. In almost all the major UK cities there is a sizeable Mirpuri business community which owns take aways, restaurants, shops and taxi bases to small and medium-sized manufacturing units, legal and financial firms. On the other hand, after the economic hardships faced by the first generation Mirpuri immigrants, their third and fourth generations are moving fast in the new fields of science, technology, arts and social sciences with higher number of youth taking admissions in different universities.

The Mirpuri expatriate community has made notable progress in UK politics and a sizeable number of MPs, councillors, lord mayors and deputy mayors are representing the community in different constituencies.[131] The 2005 Kashmir earthquake caused widespread losses in Azad Kashmir, affecting many British Pakistanis.[23]

Many Mirpuri have named their businesses after the Pakistani region. One of the largest companies incorporating such a name is Kashmir Crown Bakeries, which is a food-making business based in Bradford. The company is a major local employer and is the largest Asian food manufacturer in Europe.[135] The owner, Mohammed Saleem, claims that combining traditional Mirpuri baking methods with vocational British training has given his baking business a multimillion-pound turnover.[136]


Punjabis make up the second-largest sub-group of British Pakistanis, estimated to make up a third of that group.[137] With an equally large number from Indian Punjab, two thirds of all British Asians are of Punjabi descent, and they are the largest Punjabi community outside of South Asia,[137] resulting in Punjabi being the third-most commonly spoken language in the UK.[72][78]

People who came from the Punjab area have integrated much more easily into British society because the Punjab is a mostly prosperous part of Pakistan.[138] Early Punjabi immigrants to Britain tended to have more higher education credentials[31] and found it easier to assimilate because many already had a basic knowledge of the English language (speaking Pakistani English). Research by Teesside University has found that the British Punjabi community of late has become one of the most highly educated and economically successful ethnic minorities in the UK.[139]

Most Pakistani Punjabis living in the UK can trace their roots to the irrigated farms and urban conurbations of northern and central Punjab, including Jhelum, Faisalabad, Sahiwal, Jhang, Toba Tek Singh, Gujar Khan, Kallar Syedan, Attock, Bewal, Chiniot, Chakwal, Sui Cheemian, Sargodha, Gujrat, Sialkot and Gujranwala[3][140] while more recent immigrants have also arrived from large cities such as Lahore, urban Faisalabad, Islamabad-Rawalpindi and Multan. Additionally, a large number of Muslim Punjabis entered the UK from Kenya and Uganda in the 1970s.[141] These workers were brought to Africa by British colonialists, therefore most held British passports. British Punjabis are commonly found in the south of England, the Midlands and the major cities in the north (with smaller minorities in former mill towns in Lancashire and Yorkshire).


Pakistani Pashtuns (Pathans) in the United Kingdom originate from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA regions of northwestern Pakistan. A number of estimates exist on the Pashtun population in the UK. Ethnologue estimates that there are up to 87,000 native Pashto-speakers in the UK; this figure also includes Afghan immigrants belonging to the Pashtun ethnicity.[142] Another report shows that there are over 100,000 Pashtuns in Britain, making them the largest Pashtun community in Europe.[143]

Major Pashtun settlement in the United Kingdom can be dated over the course of the past five decades. There is a British Pashtun Council which has been formed by the Pashtun community in the UK.

British Pashtuns have continued to maintain ties with Pakistan over the years, taking keen interest in political and socioeconomic developments in northwestern Pakistan.[143] A large number of Pashtun families came from urban cities such as Peshawar, Mardan, Swat, Kohat and Nowshera. There are also smaller communities from other parts of Pakistan, such as Punjabi Pathans from Attock.[30]


There are over 30,000 Sindhis in Britain.[71][79]


There is a small Baloch community in the UK, originating from the Balochistan province of southwestern Pakistan and neighbouring regions.[144] There are many Baloch associations and groups active in the UK, including the Baloch Students and Youth Association (BSYA),[145][146] Baloch Cultural Society, Baloch Human Rights Council (UK) and others.[147]

Some Baloch political leaders and workers are based in the UK, where they found exile.[148][149][150][151]


There are over 400,000 Urdu-speakers in the UK,[79] some of whom are Muhajirs.[144] Muhajirs originally migrated from present-day India to Pakistan following the partition of British India in 1947. Most of them settled in Pakistan's largest city, Karachi, where they form the demographic majority. Many Muhajir Pakistanis later migrated to Britain, effecting a secondary migration.[27]

Altaf Hussain, leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM)—the largest political party in Karachi, with its roots lying in the Muhajir community—has been based in England in self-imposed exile since 1992. He is controversially regarded to have virtually "ruled" and "remotely governed" Karachi from his residence in the north London suburb of Edgware.[152][153]


There is also a Pakistani Hazara community in the UK, concentrated particularly in Milton Keynes, northeastern London, Southampton and Birmingham. A Persian-speaking community originating from central Afghanistan. They migrated to the UK from Quetta and its surroundings, which is historically home to the large Hazara population in Pakistan.[154][155][156]

Health and social issues


Pakistanis together with Bangladeshis in the UK have poor health by many measures, for instance there is an fivefold rate of diabetes.[157]

Pakistani men have the highest rate of heart disease in the UK.[158]

Sexual health

British Pakistanis, male and female, on average claim to have had only one sexual partner. The average British Pakistani male claims to have lost his virginity at the age of 20, the average female at 22, giving an average age of 21. 3.2 per cent of Pakistani males report that they have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (STI), compared to 3.6 per cent of Pakistani females.[159]

Cultural norms regarding issues such as chastity and marriage have resulted in British Pakistanis having a substantially older age for first intercourse, lower number of partners, and lower STI rates than the national average.[159]

Cousin marriages and health risks

Research in Birmingham in the 1980s suggested that 50-70% of marriages within the Pakistani community were consanguineous.[160] Such consanguinity can double the likelihood of a child suffering from a birth defect from 3% to 6%.[161] Children born to closely related Pakistani parents had an autosomal recessive condition rate of 4% compared to 0.1% for the European group.[160]

Cousin marriages or marriages within the same tribe and clan are common in some parts of South Asia, including rural areas of Pakistan.[162] A major motivation is to preserve patrilineal tribal identity.[163] The tribes to which British Pakistanis belong include Jats, Ahirs, Gujjars, Awans, Arains, Rajputs and several others, all of whom are spread throughout Pakistan and north India. As a result, there are some common genealogical origins within these tribes.[164]

Some Mirpuri British Pakistanis view cousin or in-tribe marriages as a way of preserving this ancient tribal tradition and maintaining a sense of brotherhood, an extension of the biradri system which underpins community support networks.[144][165]

Most British Pakistanis prefer to marry within their own ethnic group,[166] and in 2009, it was estimated that six in ten British Pakistanis choose a spouse from Pakistan.[44]

Forced marriage

According to the British Home Office, 38 per cent of the cases of forced marriage investigated in 2014 involved families of Pakistani origin. This was the highest nationality, followed by Indians and Bangladeshis.[167] The Home Office estimates that 79% of cases involved female victims and 21% involved male victims.[167]

Sixty per cent of the Pakistani forced marriages handled by the British High Commission assistance unit in Islamabad are linked to the small towns of Bhimber and Kotli and the city of Mirpur in Azad Kashmir.[168]

According to 2017 data by the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU), a joint effort between the Home Office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, of the 439 callers related to Pakistan, 78.8% were female and 21.0% were male, 13.7% were under the age of 15 and another 13.0% were aged 16–17. Over 85% of the cases dealt with by the FMU were dealt with entirely in the UK, preventing the marriage before it could take place. Victims were in some cases forced to sponsor a visa for the spouse.[169]


Data from the 2011 census shows that 25% of British Pakistanis in England and Wales hold degree level qualifications, in comparison to 26% of White British people. This has increased since 1991, when the figures for both groups holding a degree were 7% and 13%, respectively.[170][171]

The younger generation of British Pakistanis tends to be more educationally qualified than the older generation.[171] Twenty-eight per cent of British Pakistanis in England and Wales did not have qualifications, compared to 24% of White British people, making them of one of the least qualified major groups.[171]

Secondary education

Pakistani pupils perform slightly below the national average when measured by the proportion of pupils gaining grade 4 or above in English and Maths GCSEs .[172] The British Pakistani GCSE pass rates does not distinguish the differences in achievement around the country, and Pakistani pupils have greater regional fluctuations than other groups.[28] For example, in 2015, Pakistani pupils from London were achieving above the results for White British pupils regionally and nationally. Seventy-three-point-nine per cent of Pakistani pupils in London achieved five or more A*-C grades, compared to the White British London average of 69.5 per cent in London and 65.9 per cent across England and Wales.[173]

In the London borough of Croydon, 79.7 per cent of Pakistani pupils gained five or more A*-C grades, compared to an average of 77.8 per cent of Indian pupils and 71.3 per cent of White British pupils.[173] These nationwide differences are the result of differences in material circumstances, social class, and migration histories of the different communities which make up British Pakistanis.[28]

In 2012, 46.5% of Pakistani students in England who were eligible for free school meals achieved five or more A*-C GCSE grades including English and mathematics. This figure is 10.2% higher than the national average of 36.3%.[174]

GCSE pass rates, England only [172]
Percentage achieving Grade 4/C or above in English and Mathematics
Pakistani pupils All pupils

There are several Muslim schools which also cater to British Pakistani pupils.[177][178]

Higher education

In 2015, approximately 15,000 British Pakistani students were admitted to university, an increase from 8,460 in 2006.[179] University applicants from regions of predominantly non-Mirpuri settlement, such as Greater London and the South East, are over represented, Greater London by 7.5 per cent and the South East by 4.6 per cent.[28] In contrast, they are under represented by 4.9 per cent in the West Midlands, by 4.4 per cent in the East of England and by 4.3 per cent in Yorkshire and Humber. There is a slight over representation in other regions of between 0.2 per cent to 0.6 per cent.[28] Fifty-one per cent of British Pakistanis choose to continue their studies at the university level. This is higher than the rate for White (38%), Black Caribbean (41%), Mixed (40%), and lower than the rate for Indians (75%) and Bangladeshis (53%).[180] Science and mathematics are the most popular subjects at A level and degree level among the youngest generation of British Pakistanis, as they begin to establish themselves within the field.[181]

In addition, there are over 10,000 Pakistani international students who enrol and study at British universities and educational institutions each year.[44][182] There are numerous student and cultural associations formed by Pakistani pupils studying at British universities.

Since 2008, thousands of British Pakistani graduates in Britain have been forced to work for low wages due to the rising unemployment and recession in the country. The majority of graduates attended post-1992 universities and graduated without experience. More than 20,000 British Pakistani students who graduated in 2012 were still without jobs six months after graduating. Moreover, an increasing number of university graduates are opting for low-paying minimum wage positions. In 2011 alone, some 10,270 graduates found work as labourers, couriers, office juniors, hospital porters, waiters, bar staff, cleaners, road sweepers and school dinner servers. This was almost double the number in 2008 before the UK recession struck.[183]

Language education

Urdu courses are available in the UK and can be studied at GCSE and A level.[74][184] Urdu degrees are offered in a couple of British universities and institutes, while several others are also hoping to offer courses in Urdu, open to established speakers as well as beginners, in the future.[185][186][187][188]

The Punjabi language is also offered at GCSE and A Level,[189] and taught as a course by two universities: SOAS[190] and King's College London.[191] Pashto is presently taught at SOAS and King's College London as well.[192]


Location has had a great impact on the success of British Pakistanis. The existence of a North-South divide leaves those in the north of England economically depressed, although there is a small concentration of more highly educated Pakistanis living in the suburbs of Greater Manchester and the West Midlands, as some Pakistani immigrants have taken advantage of the trading opportunities and entrepreneurial environment which exist in major UK cities.[196] But material deprivation and under-performing schools of the inner city have impeded social mobility for many Mirpuris.[196]

British Pakistanis based in large cities have found making the transition into the professional middle class easier than those based in peripheral towns. This is due to the fact that cities like Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Glasgow and Oxford have provided a more economically encouraging environment than the small towns in Lancashire and Yorkshire.[31]

On the other hand, the decline in the British textile boom brought about economic disparities for Pakistanis who worked and settled in the smaller mill towns following the 1960s, with properties failing to appreciate enough and incomes having shrunk.[166]

Most of the initial funds for entrepreneurial activities were historically collected by workers in food processing and clothing factories.[197] The funds were often given a boost by wives saving "pin money" and interest-free loans which were exchanged between fellow migrants. By the 1980s, British Pakistanis began dominating the ethnic and halal food businesses, Indian restaurants, Asian fabric shops, and travel agencies.[196] Other Pakistanis secured ownership of textile manufacturing or wholesale businesses and took advantage of cheap family labour. The once multimillion-pound company Joe Bloggs has such an origin.

Clothing imports from Southeast Asia began to affect the financial success of these mill-owning Pakistanis in the 1990s. However, some Pakistani families based in the major cities managed to buck this trend by selling or renting out units in their former factories.[196]

In the housing rental market, Pakistani landlords first rented out rooms to incoming migrants, who were mostly Pakistani themselves. As these renters settled in Britain and prospered to the point where they could afford to buy their own homes, non-Asian university students became the main potential customers to these landlords. By 2000, several British Pakistanis had established low-cost rental properties throughout England.[196] Aneel Mussarat is an example of a property millionaire. His company, MCR Property Group, specialises in renting apartments to university students in Manchester and Liverpool.

British Pakistanis are most likely to live in owner-occupied Victorian terraced houses of the inner city.[198] In the increasing suburban movement amongst Pakistanis living in Britain,[199] this trend is most conspicuous among children of Pakistani immigrants.[200] Pakistanis tend to place a strong emphasis on owning their own home and have one of the highest rates of home ownership in the UK at 73 per cent, slightly higher than that of the white British population.[201]

Many first generation British Pakistanis have invested in second homes or holiday homes in Pakistan.[202] They have purchased houses next to their villages and sometimes even in more expensive cities, such as Islamabad and Lahore. Upon reaching the retirement age, a small number hand over their houses in Britain to their offspring and settle in their second homes in Pakistan.[196] This relocation multiplies the value of their British state pensions. Investing savings in Pakistan has limited the funding available for investing in their UK businesses. In comparison, other migrant groups, such as South Asian migrants from East Africa, have benefited from investing only in Britain.[196]

Economic status

Statistics from the 2011 census show that Pakistani communities in England particularly in the North and the Midlands, are disproportionately affected by low pay, unemployment and poverty.[203][204] Thirty-two per cent of British Pakistanis live in a deprived neighbourhood, compared to 10 per cent for England overall.[205] Consequently, many fall within the welfare net.[206] In Scotland however, Pakistanis were less likely to live in a deprived area than the average.[207] Conversely, there were around 100 British Pakistani millionaires in 2001, representing a variety of industries.[208][209] Sir Anwar Pervez, owner of one of the UK's largest companies, the Bestway group,[210] is the richest British Pakistani and also among the UK's 50 richest people, with assets exceeding £1.5 billion.[211][212]

In addition, several wealthy Pakistanis including prominent politicians own millions of pounds' worth of assets and properties in the UK, such as holiday homes.[213][214][215][216] In 2017, 19.8 per cent of Pakistani secondary school students were eligible for free school meals, compared to 13.1 per cent of White British pupils. Amongst pupils in Key Stage 1, 14.1 per cent of both Pakistani and White British children were eligible for FSM.[217]

A report for the National Equality Panel found that British Pakistani households have an estimated median total wealth of £97,000, placing them in third place out of the major ethnic groups in the UK.[218] The statistics show the following:

Ethnic groupMedian total wealth
White British£221,000
Black Caribbean£76,000
Other Asian£50,000
Black African£21,000


In 2001, around 3,500 British Pakistanis were in the highest ranking business and professional occupations, compared to 1,000 Bangladeshis and 10,000 Indians. Keeping in mind the lower class resources of Mirpuris, the rates of entry of non-Mirpuri Pakistanis into managerial or professional occupations turns out to be similar to that of British Indians.[196] As per General Medical Council statistics for March 2017, 12,883 doctors of Pakistani ethnicity were registered in the UK.[219] A further 8,000 dentists currently work for the NHS.[220] Pakistani-origin doctors make up 4.6 per cent of all doctors in the UK[219] and Pakistan is one of the largest source countries of foreign young doctors in the UK.[221]

Research by the Office for National Statistics shows that British Pakistanis are far more likely to be self-employed than any other ethnic group. Pakistani men are most likely to work in the transport and logistics industry, most as cab drivers and taxi drivers.[37] In 2011, 57 per cent of working-age British Pakistani women were economically inactive, bettering only Bangladeshi and Arab women, and of those who were economically active, 15 per cent were unemployed.[222] Amongst older employed Pakistani women, many work as packers, bottlers, canners, fillers, or sewing machinists.[37] Pakistani women have recently begun to surge into the labour market.[223]

Social class

The majority of British Pakistanis are considered to be working or middle class.[224] According to the 2001 Census, 13.8 per cent of Pakistanis living in Great Britain were in managerial or professional occupations, 14 per cent in intermediate occupations, and 23.3 in routine or manual occupations. The remainder were long-term unemployed, students, or not classified due to lack of data.[38]

Whilst British Pakistanis living in the Midlands and the North are more likely to be unemployed or suffer from social exclusion,[28] some Pakistani communities in London and the south-east are said to be "fairly prosperous".[42] It was estimated that, in 2001, around 45 per cent of British Pakistanis living in both inner and outer London were middle class.[225]



Notable films that depict the lives of British Pakistanis include My Beautiful Laundrette, which received a BAFTA award nomination, and the popular East is East which won a BAFTA award, a British Independent Film Award and a London Film Critics' Circle Award. The Infidel looked at a British Pakistani family living in East London.[226] The Infidel depicted religious issues and the identity crisis facing a young member of the family. The film Four Lions also looked at issues of religion and extremism. It followed British Pakistanis living in Sheffield in the North of England. The sequel to East is East, called West is West was released in the UK on 25 February 2011.[227]

Citizen Khan is a sitcom developed by Adil Ray which is based on a British Pakistani family in Sparkhill, Birmingham, dubbed the "capital of British Pakistan."[228] The soap opera EastEnders also features many British Pakistani characters.[229] Pakistani Lollywood films have been screened in British cinemas.[230][231] Indian Bollywood films are also shown in British cinemas and are popular with many second generation British Pakistanis and British Asians.[232]


BBC has news services in Urdu and Pashto.[233][234] In 2005, the BBC showed an evening of programmes under the title "Pakistani, Actually". The programmes offered an insight into the lives of Pakistanis living in Britain and some of the issues faced by the community.[235][236] The executive producer of the series said, "These documentaries provide just a snapshot of contemporary life among British Pakistanis—a community who are often misunderstood, neglected or stereotyped."[235]

The Pakistani channels of GEO TV, ARY Digital and many others are available to watch on subscription. These channels are based in Pakistan and cater to the Pakistani diaspora, as well as anyone of South Asian origin. They feature news, sports and entertainment, with some channels broadcast in Urdu/Hindi.

Mishal Husain is a newsreader and presenter for the BBC of Pakistani descent.[237] Saira Khan hosts the BBC children's programme Beat the Boss. Martin Bashir is a Christian Pakistani[238] who worked for ITV, then American Broadcasting Company, before becoming BBC News Religious Affairs correspondent in 2016.


The BBC Asian Network is a radio station available across the entire UK and is aimed at Britons of South Asian origin under 35 years of age.[239] Apart from this popular station, there are many other national radio stations for or run by the British Pakistani community, including Sunrise and Kismat Radios of London.

Regional British Pakistani stations include Asian Sound of Manchester, Radio XL and Apni Awaz of Birmingham and Sunrise Radio Yorkshire which based in Bradford.[240] These radio stations generally run programmes in a variety of South Asian languages.


A large proportion of newspaper vendors and newsagents in Britain are run by Indian and Pakistani families.[241] The fact that Pakistanis have traditionally owned newsagents or corner shops is well known in Britain and has led to the term "Paki shop" (although now considered offensive).[242] This foothold in the retail sector has on one occasion been influential for those of the Muslim faith, as the tabloid newspaper The Daily Star once planned to publish a spoof page that mocked Sharia law.[243] The special feature, which was to include censored "Burka Babes" and "a free beard for every bomber", was eventually pulled from publication partially because staff at the Daily Star discovered that "Many of the newsagents who sell the paper are of Pakistani origin and would have been offended".[244]

The Pakistani newspaper the Daily Jang has the largest circulation of any daily Urdu-language newspaper in the world.[245] It is sold at several Pakistani newsagents and grocery stores across the UK. Urdu newspapers, books and other periodical publications are available in libraries which have a dedicated Asian languages service.[246] Examples of British-based newspapers written in English include the Asian News (published by Trinity Mirror) and the Eastern Eye. These are free weekly newspapers aimed at all British Asians.[247][248]

British Pakistanis involved in print media include Sarfraz Manzoor, who is a regular columnist for The Guardian,[249] one of the largest and most popular newspaper groups in the UK. Anila Baig is a feature writer at The Sun, the biggest-selling newspaper in the UK.[250]


British Pakistanis are represented in politics at all levels. There are currently twelve British Pakistani MPs in the House of Commons.[251] Notable members have included Shadow Secretary of State for Justice Sadiq Khan[252] and Home Secretary, Sajid Javid,[253] described by The Guardian as a 'rising star' in the Tory party.[254] The Guardian stated that "The treasury minister is highly regarded on the right and would be the Tories' first Muslim leader." Whereas The Independent have stated that Javid could become the next Chancellor of the Exchequer.[255]

Notable British Pakistanis in the House of Lords include Minister for Faith and Communities and former Chairman of the Conservative Party Sayeeda Warsi,[256] Nazir Ahmed,[257][258] and Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon. Mohammad Sarwar from Labour was the first Muslim member of the British parliament, being elected for Glasgow in 1997 and serving till 2010.[259] In 2013, Sarwar quit British politics and returned to Pakistan, where he joined the government and briefly served as the Governor of Punjab.[260] Other politicians in Pakistan known to have held dual British citizenship include Rehman Malik,[261] Ishrat-ul-Ibad Khan,[262] and some members of the Pakistani national and provincial legislative assemblies.[263][264]

In 2007, 257 British Pakistanis were serving as elected councillors or mayors in Britain.[265] British Pakistanis make up a sizeable proportion of British voters and are known to make a difference in elections, both local and national.[266] They are much more active in the voting process, with 67 per cent voting in the last general elections of 2005, compared to just over 60 per cent for the whole country.[267]

Apart from their involvement in domestic politics, the British Pakistani community also maintains keen focus on the politics of Pakistan and has served as an important soft power prerogative in historical, cultural, economic and bilateral relations between Pakistan and the United Kingdom.[268][269] Major Pakistani political parties such as the Pakistan Muslim League (N),[270] Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf,[271] Pakistan Peoples Party,[272] Muttahida Qaumi Movement[273] and others have political chapters and support in the UK.

Some of the most influential names in Pakistani politics are known to have studied, lived or exiled in the UK.[274] London in particular has long served as a hub of Pakistani political activities overseas.[274][275][276][277] The British Mirpuri community has a strong culture of diaspora politics, playing a significant role in advocating the settlement of the Kashmir conflict and raising awareness of human rights issues in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir.[278][279][280] Much of Pakistani lobbying and intelligence operations in the UK are focused on this key diaspora issue.[281]

Labour Party

The Labour Party has traditionally been the natural choice for many British Pakistanis. The Labour Party are also said to be more dependent on votes from British Pakistanis than the Conservative Party.[282] British Pakistani support for Labour reportedly fell because of party's decision to take part in the Iraq War,[283] when a substantial minority of Muslim voters switched from Labour to the Liberal Democrats.[284] A 2005 poll carried out by ICM showed that 40 per cent of British Pakistanis intended to vote for Labour, compared to 5 per cent for the Conservative Party and 21 per cent for the Liberal Democrats.[285] However, according to survey research, 60 per cent of Pakistani voters voted Labour in the subsequent general election, held in 2010[286] and this figure rose to more than 90 per cent in the 2017 general election.[284]

High-profile British Pakistani politicians within the Labour Party include Shahid Malik and Lord Nazir Ahmed, who became the first Muslim life peer in 1998.[287] Sadiq Khan became the first Muslim cabinet minister in June 2009, after being invited to accept the post by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown.[288] Anas Sarwar served as an MP for Glasgow Central between 2010 and 2015. Shabana Mahmood is the current Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Conservative Party

Some commentators have argued that the Conservative Party has become increasingly popular with some British Pakistanis, as they become more affluent.[290] However, analysis of a representative sample of ethnic Pakistani voters in the 2010 general election from the Ethnic Minority British Election Study shows that 13 per cent of them voted Conservative, compared to 60 per cent Labour and 25 per cent Liberal Democrat.[286]

The proportion of British Pakistanis voting Conservative fell in the 2015 and 2017 general elections.[284] Michael Wade, Chairman of the Conservative Friends of Pakistan, has argued that while polls have showed that only one third of British Pakistani men would never vote Conservative, "the fact is that the Conservative Party has not been successful in reaching out to the British Pakistani community; and so they, in turn, have not looked to the Conservative Party as the one that represents their interests".[291]

The Conservative Friends of Pakistan aims to develop and promote the relationship between the Conservative Party, the British Pakistani community and Pakistan.[292] David Cameron opened a new gym aimed at British Pakistanis in Bolton after being invited by Amir Khan in 2009.[293] Cameron also appointed Tariq Ahmad, Baron Ahmad of Wimbledon, a Mirpuri-born politician, a life peerage. Multi-millionaire Sir Anwar Pervez, who claims to have been born Conservative,[294] has donated large sums to the party.[295][296] Sir Anwar's donations have entitled him to become a member of the influential Conservative Leader's Group.[297]

Shortly after becoming the Conservative Party leader, Cameron spent two days living with a British Pakistani family in Birmingham.[298] He said that the experience taught him about the challenges of cohesion and integration.[298]

Sajjad Karim is a Member of the European Parliament. He represents North West England through the Conservative Party. In 2005, Karim became the founding Chairman of the European Parliament Friends of Pakistan Group. He is also a member of the Friends of India and Friends of Bangladesh groups.[299] Rehman Chishti became the new Conservative Party MP for Gillingham and Rainham.[300] Sayeeda Warsi was promoted to Chairman of the Conservative Party by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom shortly after the 2010 UK general election. Warsi was the shadow minister for community cohesion when the Conservatives were in opposition. She is the first Muslim and first Asian woman to serve in a British cabinet. Both of Warsi's grandfathers served with the British Army in the Second World War.[301]


In the 2003 Scottish Parliament elections, Scottish Pakistani voters supported the Scottish National Party (SNP) more than the average Scottish voter.[60] The SNP is a centre-left civil nationalist party that campaigns for the independence of Scotland from the United Kingdom. SNP candidate Bashir Ahmad was elected to the Scottish Parliament to represent Glasgow at the 2007 election, becoming the first Member of the Scottish Parliament to be elected with a Scottish Asian background.[302]

Salma Yaqoob is the former leader of the left-wing, anti-Zionist Respect Party. The small party has seen success in areas such as Sparkbrook in Birmingham and Newham in London, where there are large Pakistani populations. Qassim Afzal is a senior Liberal Democrat politician of Pakistani origin. In 2009 he accompanied the then Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to meetings with Pakistan's President, Asif Ali Zardari.[303]

Contemporary issues

Allegations of extremism

Gareth Price, head of the Asia Program at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London stated that young British Pakistanis are more likely to be radicalised compared with other Muslim communities in Britain.[304]

In 2008, the British government launched its Prevent Strategy which aims to combat "violent extremism" within British Islamic communities. The initiative has given grants and financial support to community projects.[305] Fifty-three million pounds was spent on the strategy between 2007 and 2010.[306]


The chance of a Pakistani being racially attacked in a year is greater than 4 per cent—the highest rate in the country, along with British Bangladeshis—though this has come down from 8 per cent a year in 1996.[307] The term "Paki" is often used as a racist slur to describe Pakistanis and can also be directed towards non-Pakistani South Asians. There have been some attempts by the youngest generation of British Pakistanis to reclaim the word and use it in a non-offensive way to refer to themselves, though this remains controversial.[308]

In 2001 riots occurred in Bradford. Two reasons given for the riots were social deprivation and the actions of extreme right wing groups such as the National Front (NF).[309] The Anti-Nazi League held a counter protest to a proposed march by the NF leading to clashes between police and the local South Asian population, with the majority of those being involved being of Pakistani descent.[310][311]


Starting in the late 1960s,[312] and peaking in the 1970s and 1980s, violent gangs opposed to immigration took part in frequent attacks known as "Paki-bashing", which targeted and assaulted Pakistanis and other South Asians.[313] "Paki-bashing" was unleashed after Enoch Powell's inflammatory Rivers of Blood speech in 1968,[312] and peaked during the 1970s1980s, with the attacks mainly linked to far-right fascist, racist and anti-immigrant movements, including the white power skinheads, the National Front, and the British National Party (BNP).[314][315]

These attacks were usually referred to as either "Paki-bashing" or "skinhead terror", with the attackers usually called "Paki-bashers" or "skinheads".[312] According to Robert Lambert, "influential sections of the national and local media" did "much to exacerbate" anti-immigrant and anti-Pakistani rhetoric.[315] The attacks were also fuelled by systemic failures of state authorities, which included under-reporting of racist attacks, the criminal justice system not taking racist attacks seriously, and racial harassment by police.[312]

Notable people

See also


  1. This census figure may not include people of partial Pakistani ancestry.


  1. "2011 Census: Ethnic group, local authorities in the United Kingdom". Office for National Statistics. 11 October 2013. Retrieved 28 February 2015.
  2. "Britain's Pakistani community". The Daily Telegraph. 28 November 2008. Retrieved 5 December 2010.
  3. Werbner, Pnina (2005). "Pakistani migration and diaspora religious politics in a global age". In Ember, Melvin; Ember, Carol R.; Skoggard, Ian (eds.). Encyclopedia of Diasporas: Immigrant and Refugee Cultures around the World. New York: Springer. pp. 475–484. ISBN 0-306-48321-1.
  4. Satter, Raphael G. (13 May 2008). "Pakistan rejoins Commonwealth – World Politics, World". The Independent. London. Retrieved 27 April 2010.
  5. Butler, Patrick (18 June 2008). "How migrants helped make the NHS". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 December 2010.
  6. Nadia Mushtaq Abbasi. "The Pakistani Diaspora in Europe and Its Impact on Democracy Building in Pakistan" (PDF). International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. p. 5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 August 2010. Retrieved 2 November 2010.
  7. Department for Communities and Local Government. "The Pakistani Muslim Community in England" (PDF). Department for Communities and Local Government. pp. 5–11 (6), 36–41. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 September 2012. Retrieved 2 November 2010. In London the community is more mixed and includes comparable numbers of Punjabis, Pathans and Kashmiris. There are also small communities of Sindhis and Balochis in London.
  8. "2011 Census data - religion". Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  9. "2011 census data – religion". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 August 2013.
  10. Guy Palmer; Peter Kenway (29 April 2007). "Poverty rates among ethnic groups in Great Britain". JRF. Retrieved 20 December 2010.
  11. "CoDE Housing Census Briefing" (PDF). University of Manchester. October 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 February 2014. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
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Further reading

  • Ali N, Ellis P and Khan Z (1996), A Time to Separate British Punjabi and British Kashmiri Identity, in Singh and Talbot (eds.) New Delhi: Manohar Publishers
  • Amin, A (2002) Ethnicity and the multicultural city: living with diversity, Environment and Planning A, 34
  • Amin, A (2003) Unruly strangers? The 2001 urban riots, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 27(2)
  • Anwar, M (1996) British Pakistanis: demographic, social and economic position. University of Warwick. ISBN 0-948303-59-X
  • Brown, J (2006) Global South Asians: introducing the modern diaspora, Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-84456-8
  • Dahya, B (1974) The nature of Pakistani ethnicity in industrial cities in Britain, Tavistock Press. ISBN 0-415-32982-5
  • Kalra, V (2000) From textile mills to taxi ranks Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84014-865-7
  • Giannangeli, Marco (10 October 2005). "Links to Britain forged by war and Partition". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 26 February 2011.
  • Imtiaz, Sharon Karima (1997). A comparative study of multilingual Pakistanis in Amsterdam and Birmingham (PDF) (PhD thesis). University of Warwick.
  • Jamal, A (1998). Food consumption among ethnic minorities: the case of British-Pakistanis in Bradford, UK. Emerald Group Publishing Limited. ISSN 0007-070X
  • Jamal, A (1998). Cultural diversity and its impact on businesses, in Navigation Difference: Cultural Diversity and Audience Development, Arts Council England. ISBN 0-7287-1077-3
  • Kundnani, A (2001) From Oldham to Bradford: the violence of the violated Race and Class 43(2)
  • Sandercock, L (2003) Cosmopolis II: mongrel cities in the twenty-first century. Continuum. ISBN 0-8264-7045-9
  • Shaw, A. (1988) A Pakistani community in Britain, Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-15228-8
  • Werbner, P. (2002) The migration process: Capital, gifts and offerings among British Pakistanis, Berg Publishers. ISBN 1-85973-664-5
  • Yilmaz, Ihsan. (2005) Muslim Laws, Politics and Society in Modern Nation States: Dynamic Legal Pluralisms in England, Turkey, and Pakistan, Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7546-4389-0
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