Socio-Cultural Environment

Punjab has always fared better than other provinces in terms of socio-economic statistics. However, a larger population means a larger number and scale of challenges to manage the population. Punjab’s population has increased five time in the last 60 years and estimated to be over 100 million (out of 180 million of Pakistan’s estimated total population). [1] Sixty-eight percent (68%) of Punjab’s population is estimated to be in rural areas and along the gender divide 48% of is female. [2] Demographics have changed with a huge number of young adults in the population. Almost two-thirds of Punjab’s population is under the age of 30. [3] Population size of young adults between the ages of 15-29 is almost 30 million and 36 million for below age of 15. It is this youth bulge that poses both as a challenge and an opportunity for the Government.

The literacy rate (10 years onward) is 61% (male 69%, female 52%). The adult literacy rate 15-24 years76%, (73% among young women). Figures vary greatly depending on district and when rural and urban areas are considered (e.g. literacy rates in rural areas is 54%, and75% in urban areas). [4] There are 36,000 government schools with 4,062,473 student enrolled (46% girls). This number decreases a bit as grades increase (Punjab Development Statistic 2016). Despite the overall improvement and efforts made for education by the public sector and the presence of the private sector, almost one-third of children remain out of school (MICS 2014). Primary NER stands 58%. There are a little over 1 million students enrolled in intermediate, graduate and post-graduate colleges with gender parity.


The province of Punjab has numerous cultural assets with a rich history that pre-dates the country. Garnered with archaeological treasures, architectural and historical sites, the province has much to showcase to the world. With three heritage sites already on the World heritage list (Taxila, Rohtas fort and Shalimar Gardens) and at least seven sites on the tentative lists (Harappa, Badshahi mosque, Wazir Khan mosque, Jahangir’s Tomb, Hiran Minar, Tomb of Hazrat Rukn-e-Alam and in natural landscapes the Salt Range and Khewra mines). This is just the tip of the iceberg as so many sites remain unexplored. In addition to built heritage there is the influence, folklore and universal message of love, tolerance and peace of the great Sufi saints of the province that attract devotees throughout the region. They form an indelible part of the intangible heritage of the region. In rural areas, local populations look forward to the cultural festivals celebrating spring and their hard work during harvesting. Religious celebrations of Eid are events that bring the whole country together in joyous fervor. Local handicraft help bring income to hundreds of craftsmen and women who work tirelessly in producing embellished designs in all mediums, whether wood, metal, ceramic, glass, or textile. The nascent fashion industry which started as a cottage industry has bloomed to make it mark internationally contributing to positive image-building of the country. Punjab has a rich legacy of poets, writers, visual artists, musicians, performing artists who have helped shaped the identity of the nation since Independence through their words and imagery and put Pakistan on the cultural map. Lahore, having been the centre of two of the main arts colleges in Lahore and home to a PTV station, are institutions that have helped nurture new talent in the past.


Archaeological Sites in Punjab

The built heritage of Punjab symbolizes our past glory and it is an integral part of our sense of identity. The province of Punjab is rich in archaeology where a complete cultural profile from the early Stone Age to the Islamic period has been established which is highlighted by archaeological sites, historical monuments, ethnic traditions and folklores. It may not only serves as a source of inspiration but also heightens the national pride with consequential effect of providing incentives for fulfilling our future inspirations. The history of this Province started from the Palaeolithic period in Rawalpindi district about two millions year back and continued through different phases and reached to the colonial period of pre-partition time. The region has been invaded and ruled by many different empires and races including the Aryans, Persians, Greeks, Egyptians, Afghans, and Mongols. The population of Punjab had been pre-dominantly Hindu with large Buddhist minorities before it was conquered by Muhammad bin Qasim in 712 AD. He was the first to bring the message of Islam to the region. It was later spread through the teachings of various Sufi saints. The Mughals controlled the region from 1524-1739. It was their reign that saw the construction of the great architectural wonders such as the Badshahi Mosque and the Shalimar Gardens.

Today, Punjab remains the heartbeat of the nation and is at the center of all political and economic progress. It has been the cradle of civilization since time immemorial. The ruins of Harappa show an advanced urban culture that flourished over 5000 years ago. Taxila, another historic landmark also stands out as a proof of the achievements of the area in learning, arts and crafts in bygone ages. The forts, palaces, gardens, mosques, mausoleums, are eloquent reminders of the great tradition in Muslim architecture. Director General of Archaeology, Government of the Punjab has mapped archaeological sites under different categories which is summarized below in Table 1; [5]

Categorize No. of Sites
World Heritage Sites 4
Tentative World Heritage Sites 7
Archaeological Sites 7
National Monuments 4
Religious Monuments - Muslims 24
Religious Monuments - Hindus 14
Religious Monuments - Buddhists 9
Religious Monuments - Sikh 4
Religious Monuments - Christians 2

There are four World Heritage Sites in Punjab;

  1. Rohtas Fort (Jhelum)
  2. Shalamar Gardens (Lahore)
  3. Lahore Fort (Lahore)
  4. Texila (Rawalpindi District)

The protection of cultural resources in Pakistan is ensured by the Antiquities Act of 1975 (updated in 2012)[6]. Antiquities have been defined in the Act as ancient products of human activity, historical sites, or sites of anthropological or cultural interest, national monuments etc. The act is designed to protect antiquities from destruction, theft, negligence, unlawful excavation, trade and export. The act has defined right off way for execution of development schemes and new constructions in proximity to immovable antiquity. It states that; “Notwithstanding anything contained in any other low for the time being in force, no development plan or scheme or new construction on, or within a distance of two hundred feet of, a protected immovable antiquity shall be undertaken or executed except with the approval of the Director”.

Punjab Spatial Strategy will ensure that the development of Punjab will be planned in a way keeping in view the sensitivity of these sites and ensuring protection and conservation of these historical artefacts by observing appropriate right of way as defined in the Antiquities Act 1975.

File:Socio Cultural Environment of Punjab.pdf

  1. Governemnt of the Punjab; Punjab Growth Strategy, 2018
  2. Government of the Punjab; Punjab Development Statistics, 2016
  3. Estimates from the Population Council, as quoted in Punjab Growth Strategy 2018
  4. All figures from MIC 2014 quoted in Punjab Development Statistics 2016
  5. Directorate General of Archaeology, Government of the Punjab