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Siri Paye Shogran. 'Paye' means "high grazing ground" in Hindko language, while 'Siri' means 'lake.' Wikimedia Commons

By- Khushi Bisht

“Hindko” is a Pashto (an eastern Iranian language) word that was originally translated as the ‘language of Hind.’ Hindko, which many people believe is a Punjabi dialect rather than a separate tongue, is believed to have originated at the same time around 1000 CE. Hindko and Prakrit are considered to be linked. It has had very little syntactical change, but it has absorbed a lot of vocabulary from its neighboring places, especially Pashto.

Following the arrival of Zaheeruddin Baber, Urdu flourished in the Peshawar Valley and Hindko arose from the multiple languages spoken by both invaders and natives. Tariq Rehman, a well-known Pakistani columnist, says, ‘Hind’ refers to Sindh and ‘Ko’ refers to language.” When Afghan attackers arrived in this region, they discovered common words being spoken from Peshawar to UP. ‘Hindko’ was the name given to it.

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Sir George Abraham Grierson. Wikimedia Commons

Hindko was considered the “language of the people of Hind (India)” by Sir George Abraham Grierson, an Irish administrator and linguist. As a result, a language named after India has emerged but is now widely spoken in Pakistan.

‘Hindko’ is the language spoken in Peshawar and Abbottabad, ‘Punjabi’ in central Punjab, and ‘Saraiki’ in Multan. All three languages are geographically related and serve as the primary tongue of nearly 125 million people. These languages are mutually understandable. They are also parts of the very same wide vocabulary.

Hindkowans in Pakistan and the northern region of India, even some Pashtun tribes in Pakistan and the Hindki people in Afghanistan, speak this dialect. Today, nearly four million people in Pakistan speak Hindko in the former Hazara district, which included Abbottabad, Haripur, Mansehra, and Attock in Punjab. Hindko speakers can also be found in cities such as Kohat, Nowshera, and Swabi in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. Hindko is very little-known in India, despite the fact that it is spoken in regions of Jammu and Kashmir and amongst other groups that emigrated to India after Partition.

Pakistani Punjabi Culture. When a language dies, a civilization dies with it. Wikimedia Commons

Hindko is also spoken in Afghanistan, where it is known as ‘Hindki’ and is widely assumed to be the language of the country’s non-Muslim community (Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan). This isn’t exactly accurate, since there are Pashto-speaking non-muslims in Afghanistan, as well as Muslims who speak Hindko.

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This dialect also has the Holy Quran translated into it. Hindko books are available on all major topics such as religious belief, political life, heritage, and life stories. Highly regarded poets like Qateel Shifai, Farigh Bukhari, and Khatir Ghaznavi, who rose to prominence via their Urdu poetry, too were Hindko poets. The Hindko dialect has given birth to mystic poets such as Sain Ahmad Ali, who is said to be a follower of Bulleh Shah.

A language has its own elegance in its folklore, poems, and customs. It is indeed a crucial element of human interaction. When a language dies, a civilization dies with it. Hindko must not only be maintained, but also encouraged to evolve and thrive.


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