The society and culture of Pakistan (Urdu: ????? ??????? ) comprises numerous diverse cultures and ethnic groups: the Punjabis, Kashmiri and Sindhis in the east; the tribal cultures of the Baloch and Pashtun in the west; and the ancient Dardic and Tajik communities in the north. These Pakistani cultures have been greatly influenced by many of the surrounding countries’ cultures, such as the Turkish, Persian, Afghan, and Indians of South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. In ancient times, Pakistan was a major cultural hub. Many cultural practices and great monuments have been inherited from the time of the ancient rulers of the region.
One of the greatest cultural influences was that of the Persian Empire, of which Pakistan was a part. In fact, the Pakistani satraps were at one time the richest and most productive of the massive Persian Empire. Other key influences include the Afghan Empire, Mughal Empire and later, the short lived but influential, the British Empire. Pakistan has a cultural and ethnic background going back to the Indus Valley Civilization, which existed from 2800–1800 B. C. , and was remarkable for its ordered cities, advanced sanitation, excellent roads, and uniquely structured society.
Pakistan has been invaded many times in the past, and has been occupied and settled by many different peoples, each of whom have left their imprint on the current inhabitants of the country. Some of the largest groups were the ‘Aryans’, Greeks, Scythians, Persians, White Huns, Arabs, Turks, Mongols, Afghans, Buddhists and other Eurasian groups, up to and including the British, who left in the late 1940s. The region has formed a distinct cultural unit within the main cultural complex of South Asia, the Middle East and Central Asia from the earliest times, and is analogous to Turkey’s position in Eurasia. 1] There are differences in culture among the different ethnic groups in matters such as dress, food, and religion, especially where pre-Islamic customs differ from Islamic practices. Their cultural origins also reveal influences from far afield, including Tibet, Nepal, India and eastern Afghanistan. All groups show varying degrees of influence from Persia, Turkestan and Hellenistic Greece. Pakistan was the first region of South Asia to receive the full impact of Islam and has developed a distinct Islamic identity, historically different from areas further west.