Social classification principles in Pakistan are based on regionality and locality, on ethnicity, kinship and language, on religion and worldview, access to scarce resources, and finally on educational level, occupation, branches of business and control of means of production. The social identity of people is shaped by a multitude of such criteria at the same time and is activated differently depending on the life situation.
Four large and numerous small and very small ethnic groups can be found in Pakistan. The large ones include the Punjabis, Sindhis, Baluchis, and Pashtuns (they were called Pathans in the early ethnographic records of British colonial officials). A fifth group is often not mentioned explicitly because it lives spread out across the country and is therefore difficult to map out: the Mohajir (pronounced ” mohajir “”), these are the Muslims from India who came to Pakistan when the subcontinent was divided in 1947, partly voluntarily and partly as refugees. Their descendants are still called this today, often with derogatory connotations. The politically correct name is” Urdu- speaking community “. On closer inspection, one also finds that a term like” the Punjabis “rather refers to a regional and linguistic unit, which in turn is divided into numerous ethnic professional groups, such as Gujar (pronounced” Gudschar “), Awan, etc. The conceptual boundary between ethnic group, caste, clan and local group is difficult to draw.
According to neovideogames, social relationships and groupings in Pakistan are strongly vertical, i.e. hierarchically oriented. Above and below one another is usually more important than being next to and with one another. This applies to family life as well as to the conditions in the village, in the urban neighborhood or in the company and office. Developing real teamwork in the project can therefore be a challenge.
The caste system is also typical of the hierarchical principle in South Asian societies. According to Pakistan’s Islamic state doctrine, castes were abolished, but their old structure can still be demonstrated in society. This includes the phenomenon of the formation of endogamous, highly specialized professional groups into which one is born, which is difficult to leave, and which are classified as “higher” or “lower” or “pure” and “impure”. Belonging to these professional groups is still widespread in Pakistan.
Especially among the Pashtuns in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Baluches in Baluchistan, but also in the provinces of Sind and Punjab, there are tribal structures that are based on an egalitarian social classification principle on a genealogical basis, but can also lead to hierarchical relationships through overlapping.”Tribes and Society in Pakistan” provide information about these social classification principles.
According to the UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report 2017/18, Pakistan’s educational successes are relatively poor. Pakistan’s school enrollment and literacy rate are among the lowest in the world. Only around 60 percent of the population (women: 46%) can read and write. The conditions for girls’ education in the provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan are particularly worrying, as are the literacy rates for women and girlsare particularly low here. This situation is due to the chronic underfunding of the education sector, particularly basic education, in Pakistan. Only a little over two percent of the gross national product is invested in education. Pakistani civil society has been calling for the budget for the education sector to be doubled for years. Large discrepancies in literacy and education policies remain between provinces and between rural and urban areas.
With the 18th constitutional amendment in April 2010, responsibility for the education sector was transferred to the provinces. The Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training at the federal level not only coordinates the international donors, but also forms a platform for information exchange and synergy within the provinces. After the education sector has been decentralized, there has been an increase in expenditure for the education sector since the 2013/14 budget year. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the budget for education was doubled.
The Pakistani education system reflects the persistent social inequality in society. There are three strands of education, each addressing different social classes. The formal state school system (1st-12th grade) is characterized by quality deficiencies and geographical differences. It is complemented by a private school system in mostly urban areas. Many private schools provide high quality and internationally competitive education for the upper middle and upper classes. Often the students finish with a British degree (O and A levels). Many graduates from higher education institutions abroad do not return to Pakistan after completing their studies. The need for comprehensive reforms of the education systems appear again and again in political discussions.
In addition, there are the so-called madrassas (religious schools), which cover the needs of the lower social classes for free education, often with free board and lodging. These madrassas are usually administered by local communities and funded solely through donations. The teaching of the madrassas is mainly limited to reading and writing and religious content. A regulation of the numerous madrassas (more than 13,000) and an alignment of the curricula to the state standards has been discussed for years, but is met with resistance from the central madrassa administration. This madrassa reform However, it is inevitable and repeatedly becomes a political issue in the media discourse on the subject of terrorism and extremism, because some madrassas in northwest Pakistan and in southern Punjab have played an important role in the radical Islamic indoctrination and the recruitment of extremists.