Ancient Pakistanis were Hindu

By Razib Khan 20 Comments

Over at my other blog, Pakistani British Are Very Much Like Indians Genetically. The title doesn’t refer to genome-wide worldwide affinities. Rather, the preprint looks at British Pakistanis, and finds a pattern that is not going to surprise Indians: endogamy seems to have kicked in for these groups starting 1,500 to 2,000 years ago. This is exactly what you see in the Indian jati data. The similarity is pretty incredible, and to me is a strong rejection of the model that these groups were strongly anti-caste so on the margins of Indic civilization.

There is a second wave of endogamy though, dated from 150-500 years ago, roughly. I think this is likely Islamicization and adherence to cousin-marriage. These Pakistani groups seem to show the tendency of jati endogamy common among Hindus, and, cousin-marriage patterns of the Islamic world.

Finally, the reason I posted over on the other blog is that I think this might speak to the long-term trajectories of Bangladesh and Pakistan: Bangladesh is not in the same mold as Indo-Pak societies. The 1000 Genomes data indicate few runs of homozygosity and not much internal structure. That is, no jati endogamy, and, low levels of cousin-marriage.

If you believe Joe Henrich, this means good things for Bangladesh in the future… (vs. Pakistan)

(the Henrich podcast is already available for Patrons)

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20 Replies to “Ancient Pakistanis were Hindu”

  1. I have read that “biradari” groupings in Pakistan is somewhat similar to caste groupings in India. Does Bangladesh have a similar grouping or none at all?

    The ironic part is Ayub felt that out of the two wings it’s Bangladesh which was more “hindu” than Pakistan

  2. i did not know the term biradari before this weblog. since i’m a coconut i did a literature search, and no, ‘biradari’ does not exist in bangladesh. in my family we lose touch very fast with ppl who are not first cousins, and marriages are not made with distant relatives.

  3. Interesting to see the contrast between Pakistani muslim Jutts from this paper and the Sikh Jatts from the 2017 paper.

  4. Razib, A broader question on the inferences on starting of endogamy in the Subcontinent !
    Is there variation in the inferred date for start of endogamy in Punjab vs Core Gangetic plain vs Western India vs Deccan Vs South ? Coz Reich says some middle caste groups from Andhra – Vysya have endogamy for 2500 years atleast (unless i am jumbling it)

  5. What about the theory that most were Buddhists during the 10th-11th century when the Turks arrived.

  6. British Pakistani Punjabis and Azad Kashmiris being between sindhis and pathans genetically prove their point that they are not like Indians, at least average Indian. Badarari is more like tribal identity then caste identity of Indians. Both are not same thing.

    1. No one says they are identical, granted neither are Indian groups to one another. But their endogamy patterns parallel modern day Hindu N Indian groups but on steroids with the layer of cousin marriage on top of former caste like structures. Castes are like tribes too. People of all castes are now doing all types of work. Yes historical biases make proportions doing one type of work vs another different. But same can be said about Birdaris. Pakistanis are almost like super Hindus with their affiliation for forming genetically distinct micropopulations

  7. In many ways the Partition of N India and Pakistan can be modelled using dynamics of Indian families where brothers have a property dispute and split the land up (a genuinely serious problem because it leads to fractional land holdings and low agricultural productivity).

    The older one is angry that the younger dude didn’t know his place and broke ancestral land up for his selfish ends. The younger one tries his best to act as if he was always condescended to and wants nothing to do with his brother. For both the family occupies serious mindspace – either as fount of all tradition or an overbearing institution hard to shake off. And neither can treat the other as an adult individual with choices that one should accept and respect.

    For almost anything factual that gets said, some Pakistanis or Indians will bring their baggage to it. (I know it is more complicated by geopolitics etc, but fundamentally there’s that Indian family dispute which I find so terribly irritating and bloody primitive!)

    PS: Apologies for the digressive comment on this thread. Please feel free to delete it if you so wish.

    1. Its’a good analogy. But somethings have changed. Both the older and younger brother have moved on and treat each other as if they never broke the ancestral land in the first place. They now treat it as if they owned the land. There are very few items on either side which actually are markers of the older ancestral land

      The mindspace which is being occupied now has more to do with each other current events rather than original break up. That;s y both sides swing from serious reconciliation and serious enmity , because the underlying wounds are not as grave as partition.

  8. i have a philosophical question. if pakistani DNA shows caste like structures, doesnt it mean they are *still* hindus? closet hindus?

    after all, shouldn’t centuries of intermarriage within casteless egalitarian ummah wiped out structures? 🙂

  9. Bangladesh grew 5.5% in the last fiscal year, which ended in mid-summer, so the worst effects of Corona were baked in. India’s GDP dropped by over 20% in a single quarter (April-June).

    Once the Corona-dust settles, Bangladesh will have a higher per capita GDP (nominal) than both India and Pakistan. Quite a reversal from the 1970s when Kissinger dismissed it as a hopeless basketcase but when viewed in the longer run, probably quite expected. The Bengal region was not just the Indian subcontinent’s richest region historically. It was among the richest in the entire world.

    Economists speak more about ‘persistence’ these days. And it would seem that the Bengal region’s development, or at least Bangladesh, fits that mold. West Bengal isn’t showing the same pattern of development, which is interesting in of itself. Is Hinduism less growth-oriented than Islam?

    1. Ah, the famous Hindu rate of growth. Wonder why it hasn’t been mentioned yet.

      I think we are past the high growth phase of any economy in the world. All economies would struggle to achieve growth >=5%.

  10. @Razib Khan, sorry this is totally unrelated, but I just noticed Irulas score 13% Caucasian with HW calc, which is way higher than many North Indian Brahmins. What explains this? Paniya and Pulliyar also score some Caucasian but 0 Baloch. Is it a calculator problem or some ancient signal?

  11. @Razib Khan, sorry this is totally unrelated, but I just noticed Irulas score 13% Caucasian with HW calc, which is way higher than many North Indian Brahmins. What explains this? Paniya and Pulliyar also score some Caucasian but 0 Baloch. Is it a calculator problem or some ancient signal?

    iranian-related farmer.

  12. The Bengal region was not just the Indian subcontinent’s richest region historically. It was among the richest in the entire world.

    please remember premodern wealth is mostly just population. not per capita. so bengal was suitable for high-density rice agriculture. so supported lots of people = rich. not high individual-level productivity.

    in the modern world average per capita incomes may differ 10x between countries. in the pre-modern world it is more like 10 – 50% different.

  13. Just a belated attempt to define biradiri. My folk, who came over from West Punjab in 1947 used the term biradiri to refer to extended family stretching across several degrees of cousinship. No longer in use in Indian Punjab, the closest meaning in English for the term is ‘clan’. The clan could be defined narrowly, as referring to just your own extended patrilineal family, or more widely, the whole branch of your particular tribe with the same surname. Less specific, and consequently an ill-defined use is referring to the entire community, such as Rajput, or Jatt as a biradiri. It has nothing to do with caste.

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