Pakistanis in Malaysia

Pakistanis in Malaysia form the largest Pakistani diaspora community in southeast Asia and they also make up the 6th largest group of foreign workers/nationals in Malaysia as of 30 June 2017 according to the Malaysia's home ministry.[2]

Pakistanis in Malaysia
Pakistani supporters in Malaysia during a hockey match between Pakistan and Malaysia.
Total population
59,281 (2017 official govt estimate)[1]
Urdu  · Saraiki  · Punjabi  · Pashto  · Malay  · Sindhi  · English
Predominantly Islam Minority Hinduism
Related ethnic groups
Pakistani diaspora, Jawi Peranakan
Pakistanis in Malaysia


The Malays and Pakistanis share strong Muslim identity. At the time of Malaysia's independence under the Federation of Malaya Independence Act 1957, there were more than two hundred thousand Pakistanis residing in Malaysia, rather than forming a separate group under the categorized system, at the suggestion of Malays themselves, Pakistanis immersed themselves into the Malay group, thus they became part of the Bumiputra elite, enriched by social ties, intermarriage, and shared economic and political aspirations.[3] They also took positions in the civil service administration and gradually rose to the upper echelons of government, by then inextricably intermixed with the Malay majority.[4] Many elite Malay families have at least one grandparent that was Pakistani. Diplomats, Judges, Legislators, and other government cadres include people with recognized Pakistani-Malay bloodlines.

The actual number of Pakistani people in Malaysia is generally understated, as the figure provided by the Pakistani Ministry of Labour merely assert that those who hold Pakistani citizenship. An absolute number of Pakistanis people and their descendants are likely to exceed 100,000. This is heavily contributed to fact that the early settlers came from British Raj (which includes present-day Pakistan) during the colonial days have obtained Malaysian citizenship. Throughout the years, most of Pakistani-Malaysians and their descendants are partially or fully assimilated with the Malay majority due to their common Islamic background, high level of intermarriage and to receive state aid of Malaysian affirmative action policy under Article 153, thus registered themselves as Malays. Nonetheless, they identified their ethnic roots as Pakistani. A vast majority of Pakistanis can be considered as having Central Asian racial ancestry, given their close roots to the Indo-Iranian people groups of the region. The primary languages spoken by Pakistanis in Malaysia are Urdu, an Indo-Iranian language with considerable mixture of Turkish, Persian and Arabic words as well as Malay.


According to official figures released by Malaysia's Home Ministry the number of legal foreign workers from Pakistan stood at 59,281 as of June 2017.[5] Under a 2005 agreement between Pakistan and Malaysia, as many as 100,000 Pakistanis may eventually work in Malaysia, especially in the manufacturing, construction, and plantation sectors; the Pakistani workers are intended to replace nearly 400,000 illegal immigrants from Indonesia, the Philippines, Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka who departed the country under an amnesty which ended in March 2005.[6] Lt. General Tahir Mahmud Qazi, Pakistan's High Commissioner to Malaysia, expected that the number of Pakistanis in Malaysia would reach that figure of 100,000 by the end of 2010.[7]

Some Pakistani workers recruited by the unscrupulous employment agencies often live in bad conditions in Malaysia; after an inspection tour, Pakistani senators Fauzia Fakhru Zaman and Rukhsana Zuberi said they had seen many workers who were weak due to lack of proper food and requested to be taken home, while others were receiving only RM400 in monthly salary after having been promised nearly four times that much by recruiters.[8] The senators also blasted the Pakistani High Commission in Malaysia for taking no action on behalf of Pakistani workers there and for overcharging them for land purchases in Pakistan under the OPF Housing Scheme.[9]


In addition to the Pakistanis working in Malaysia, the country receives as many as 50,000 visitors from Pakistan each year; Pakistan's Airblue plans has launched direct flights to Kuala Lumpur in 2009 and ordered fourteen Airbus A320 planes to service the route.[10]

Notable people

Almost all figures in the list of the notable people Pakistani descent in Malaysia are of mixed descent, particularly with the ethnic Malays. Mixed-marriage is a pattern which is shared with most of Pakistani descent in Malaysia (excluding to the recently arrived migrants), after settling in the Malaysian soil after generations, assimilation process and the common Islamic background.

  • Sohaib Amir Bukhari
  • Ashmen Iskandar Weiss – Malaysian teen idol
  • Bront Palarae – Malaysia actor
  • Izara Aishah Hisham – Malaysian model and actress.
  • Kalsom of Pahang – Former Sultanah of the state of Pahang
  • Musa Aman – Former the Chief Minister of Sabah[11][12][13]
  • Neelofa – Malaysian beauty queen and television personality.
  • Tahseen Ullah Khan – Defence Attaché at the Pakistan High Commission in Malaysia (1996–1999)

See also

  • Malaysia–Pakistan relations



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