Pakistan is a country of approximately 172 million people, of whom around 95-96 percent are
Muslims, comprising roughly 80 percent Sunni and 20 percent Shia. For the purposes of this
report the authors have used a definition of a religious minority, which draws from that of
Carpotorti, as:

a group numerically inferior to the rest of the population of a state, in a non-dominant
position, whose members being nationals of the state possess religious
characteristics differing from those of the rest of the state and show, if only implicitly, a
sense of solidarity, directed towards preserving their religion and its associated cultural
and linguistic norms.
As such the authors have focused this report not on the Shia who, although numerically
smaller than the doctrinally distinct Sunnis, nevertheless form part of the Muslim majority,
but on the other religious groups within Pakistan which in total comprise the remaining 4-5
percent of so of the population. Depending on how one defines a religion (as distinct, for
example, from a cult) there are more than a hundred of these groups, mainly in ethno-
religious forms, many of which see themselves as reformers or revisionists of existent
religious groups, but many of which are entirely distinct from mainstream religious forms. A
report of this size cannot track each of these groups, nor is it necessary to do so. The large
majority of members of Pakistan’s religious minorities, as defined above, follow a relatively
small number of faiths. It is useful to divide these faiths between those that are wholly
distinct from Islam and those that claim some relationship with Islam, whether or not that
claim is accepted by mainstream Islam. Of the former the most important, in descending
order of their number of adherents, are Christians, Hindus (including Jains), Sikhs, the
Baha’i, Buddhists, Zoroastrians (Parsis), Kalasha, and Jews. Of the latter the most important
groups, again in descending order of their number of adherents, are Zikris, the Ahmadiyya,
Ismailis (including Bohars, Dawoodis, Khojas) and the Mehdi Foundation. Of those which
claim a relationship with Islam all are seen as legitimate expressions of Islamic faith by their
adherents, though each is also, to varying degrees, rejected as heretical by mainstream
Muslims. A further important distinction is that Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism
(Parsism) are treated, nominally at least, by the Muslim majority as “people of the book” (ahl
al-kitab), that is part of a shared Abrahamic tradition, whereas the other non-Muslim faiths
are not. This distinction is significant in understanding the attitude of the Muslim majority
towards the various faith groups.

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Content Courtesy- A Writenet Report by Shaun R. Gregory and Simon R. Valentine commissioned by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Status Determination and Protection Information Section