The Indus River empties into the Arabian Sea after having travelled through parts of China, India and the entire length of Pakistan. It gives its name to the country of India, the Indian Ocean and played a key part in helping civilisations develop in the Indus Valley. In fact, settlements in this part of the world date back to around 3300 BC

Today, the Indus is just as important as it is the main source of drinkable water for the people of Pakistan. The five rivers which flow through Punjab Province (meaning ‘Land of Five Rivers’) all flow into the Indus.


The inhabitants of the regions through which the Indus river passes and forms a major natural feature and resource are diverse in ethnicity, religion, national and linguistic backgrounds. On the northern course of the river in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in India, live the Buddhist people of Ladakh, of Tibetan stock, and the Dards of Indo-Aryan or Dardic stock and practising Buddhism and Islam. Then it descends into Baltistan, northern Pakistan passing the main Balti city of Skardu. On its course river from Dubair Bala also drains into it at Dubair Bazar. People living at this area are mainly Kohistani and speak Kohistani language. Major areas through which Indus river pass through in Kohistan are Dasu, Pattan and Dubair. As it continues through Pakistan, the Indus river forms a distinctive boundary of ethnicity and cultures – upon the western banks the population is largely Pashtun, Baloch, and of other Iranian stock. The eastern banks are largely populated by people of Indo-Aryan stock, such as the Punjabis and the Sindhis. In northern Punjab and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, ethnic Pashtun tribes live alongside Dardic people in the hills (Khowar, Kalash, Shina, etc.), Burushos (in Hunza), and Punjabi people.

Through its course in Punjab the people living along the Indus river are distinct from Punjabi and Pustoon. This distinction is not only based on language (Saraiki dialect) but these people also have a different genealogy. They are tall and slender, distinctively different from either pushtoon or Punjabi which have a sturdy built. These people live in Mianwali and Dera Ismail Khan, Dera Ghazi Khan, Rahim Yar Khan and Rajan Pur in Punjab. In the province of Sindh, upper third of River indus is again inhabited by Saraiki speaking people up to Shikapur. The rest of the indus river valley is inhabited by Sindhis and Baloch of Sindhi language. Upon the western banks of the river live the Baloch and Pashtun people of Balochistan.