Who Rules Pakistan? The Ethnic Composition of the Pakistani Elite

I hear a lot about supposed Punjabi Supremacy in Pakistan. This idea, often advanced by Indian intelligence agencies hoping to foment ethnic unrest, has been eagerly picked up by various separatist groups and oblivious liberals in Pakistan. That being said its not a far-fetched idea, as Punjabis do constitute a (slight) majority in Pakistan, and it could follow they exercise disproportionate influence in the country.

To test this concept, I surveyed 105 individuals from the current Pakistani, “Elite”, and tabulated their ethnicity. This includes military heads of service, national judges, leaders in legislature, cabinet appointees, and executives in major industries. The results are depicted above, while below is a similar chart depicting the general ethnic breakdown of Pakistan’s population, so we can see which groups are over/under represented.

“Punjabi” includes Seraikis and Hindkowans, while “Balochi” includes Brahuis

Its clear from this survey that Punjabis are significantly underrepresented in the Pakistani Elite relative to their population. Pathans and Balochis are a bit overrepresented. Sindhis are underrepresented, while Muhajirs are extremely overrepresented. This isn’t surprising, considering many Muhajirs hail from the former Muslim elite of India, and are significantly more educated and wealthy than other Pakistani ethnic groups.

This is by no means the final say on this topic, but I think its a useful starting point. Questions welcome as always!

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