The Role Of Pakistani Dress In National Identity

Pakistan is a country with a rich cultural heritage, and this is reflected in the traditional dress worn by its people. Clothing in Pakistan is not only functional but also symbolic, and it plays a significant role in shaping the national identity of the country. In this article, we will explore the history and significance of Pakistani dress, the different types of traditional clothing worn in the country, and how they contribute to the formation of national identity.

History of Pakistani Dress

Pakistan has a diverse cultural heritage, and its traditional dress reflects this diversity. The region that is now Pakistan has been influenced by a variety of cultures throughout history, including the Indus Valley Civilization, the Mughal Empire, and the British colonial period. These historical influences have shaped the traditional dress worn in Pakistan today.

The traditional dress of the Indus Valley Civilization, which existed in what is now Pakistan around 3000 BCE, consisted of simple, unadorned garments made from cotton. During the Mughal period, which lasted from the 16th to the 19th century, the dress worn by the ruling elite became more elaborate and ornate. The Mughals introduced new fabrics and styles, such as the use of silk and the incorporation of gold and silver thread into clothing.

The British colonial period, which lasted from the 18th to the mid-20th century, had a significant impact on Pakistan dress. The British introduced Western clothing styles and fabrics, such as trousers and shirts for men and dresses for women. However, the influence of Western dress was not as strong in Pakistan as it was in other colonies, and traditional dress remained an important part of daily life.

Types of Pakistani Dress

There are many different types of traditional dress worn in Pakistan, and they vary depending on the region, religion, and social status of the wearer. Some of the most common types of Pakistani dress include:

  • Shalwar kameez: This is the most common type of dress worn in Pakistan and is worn by both men and women. It consists of a pair of loose-fitting trousers (shalwar) and a long tunic-like shirt (kameez). The outfit is usually accompanied by a dupatta, which is a long scarf that can be draped over the head and shoulders.
  • Sari: The sari is a traditional dress worn by women in Pakistan, particularly in the Sindh and Punjab regions. It is a long piece of cloth that is wrapped around the body and worn with a blouse and petticoat.
  • Ghagra choli: This is a traditional dress worn by women in Pakistan, particularly in the Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa regions. It consists of a long skirt (ghagra) and a short blouse (choli).
  • Kurta: The kurta is a long shirt that is worn by men and women in Pakistan. It is similar to the kameez, but it is typically made from lighter fabrics and is worn with loose-fitting trousers.
  • Sherwani: The sherwani is a long coat-like garment that is worn by men on formal occasions. It is often made from rich fabrics such as silk and is adorned with embroidery.

Role in National Identity

Clothing plays a significant role in shaping national identity in Pakistan. Traditional dress is seen as a symbol of the country’s cultural heritage, and it is worn with pride by many Pakistanis. Wearing traditional dress is also a way for Pakistanis to assert their cultural distinctiveness and resist the homogenizing effects of globalization.


In conclusion, Pakistani dress plays a significant role in shaping the country’s national identity. With a rich cultural heritage, traditional clothing worn by Pakistanis reflect the diverse influences and diversity of the nation. From the shalwar kameez, sari, ghagra choli, kurta, to the sherwani, each traditional attire has a unique history, style and significance. These traditional clothes worn with pride by many Pakistanis, act as a symbol of cultural heritage, distinctiveness and sense of belonging to the nation.

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