33 Facts About Pashtuns


Pashtuns, known as Pakhtuns or Pathans, are an Iranian ethnic group who are native to the geographic region of Pashtunistan in the present-day countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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The majority of Pashtuns are found in the native Pashtun homeland, located south of the Hindu Kush which is in Afghanistan and west of the Indus River in Pakistan, principally around the Sulaiman Mountains.

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Today, the Pashtuns are a collection of diversely scattered communities present across the length and breadth of India, with the largest populations principally settled in the plains of northern and central India.

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The majority of Indian Pashtuns are Urdu-speaking communities, who have assimilated into the local society over the course of generations.

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Pashtuns have influenced and contributed to various fields in India, particularly politics, the entertainment industry and sports.

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Pashtuns are found in smaller numbers in the eastern and northern parts of Iran.

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Some Pashtuns have settled in the Middle East, such as in the Arabian Peninsula.

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The Pashtuns remain a predominantly tribal people, but the trend of urbanisation has begun to alter Pashtun society as cities such as Kandahar, Peshawar, Quetta and Kabul have grown rapidly due to the influx of rural Pashtuns.

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Since the 2nd millennium BC, cities in the region now inhabited by Pashtuns have seen invasions and migrations, including by Ancient Indian peoples, Ancient Iranian peoples, the Medes, Persians, and Ancient Macedonians in antiquity, Kushans, Hephthalites, Arabs, Turks, Mongols, and others.

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Pashtuns are tied to the history of modern Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern India: following Muslim conquests from the 7th to 11th centuries, many Pashtun warriors invaded and conquered much of the northern parts of South Asia during the periods of the Suris and Durranis.

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Strabo, the Greek geographer, in the Geographica makes mention of the Pasiani, this has been identified with Pashtuns given that Pashto is an Eastern-Iranian language and Pashtuns reside in the area once termed Ariana.

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The Pashtuns have oral and written accounts of their family tree.

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One conflicting issue in the belief that the Pashtuns descend from the Israelites is that the Ten Lost Tribes were exiled by the ruler of Assyria, while Maghzan-e-Afghani says they were permitted by the ruler to go east to Afghanistan.

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Vogelsang suggests that a single origin of the Pashtuns is unlikely but rather they are a tribal confederation.

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Pashtuns created the last Afghan empire that covered most of what is Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir, Indian Punjab, as well as the Kohistan and Khorasan provinces of Iran.

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Some Pashtuns worked in the Muslim League to fight for an independent Pakistan, including Yusuf Khattak and Abdur Rab Nishtar who was a close associate of Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

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Wars in Afghanistan altered the balance of power in the country - Pashtuns were historically dominant in the country, but the emergence of well-organized armed groups consisting of Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras, combined with politically fragmented Pashtuns, reduced their influence on the state.

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Generally, this most common view holds that Pashtuns are defined within the parameters of having mainly eastern Iranian ethnic origins, sharing a common language, culture and history, living in relatively close geographic proximity to each other, and acknowledging each other as kinsme.

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The overwhelming majority of Pashtuns are Sunni, with a tiny Shia community in the Kurram and Orakzai agencies of FATA, Pakistan.

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Smaller number of Pashtuns living in Pakistan are fluent in Hindko, Seraiki and Balochi.

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Some Pashtuns travelled to as far away as Australia during the same era.

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Recently, Pashto literature has received increased patronage, but many Pashtuns continue to rely on oral tradition due to relatively low literacy rates and education.

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One of the most popular sports among Pashtuns is cricket, which was introduced to South Asia during the early 18th century with the arrival of the British.

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The Khalaj of Kabul, supposed ancestors of the modern Ghilji Pashtuns, used to worship various local ancient Iranian gods such as the fire God Atar.

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In folklore, it is believed that most Pashtuns are descendants of Qais Abdur Rashid, who is purported to have been an early convert to Islam and thus bequeathed the faith to the early Pashtun population.

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Pashtuns purportedly had four children: Sarban, Batan, Ghourghusht and Karlan.

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Overwhelming majority of Pashtuns follow Sunni Islam, belonging to the Hanafi school of thought.

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Many Pashtuns are prominent Ulema, Islamic scholars, such as Maulana Aazam an author of more than five hundred books including Tafasee of the Quran as Naqeeb Ut Tafaseer, Tafseer Ul Aazamain, Tafseer e Naqeebi and Noor Ut Tafaseer etc.

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Many Pashtuns want to reclaim their identity from being lumped in with the Taliban and international terrorism, which is not directly linked with Pashtun culture and history.

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Lastly, little information is available on non-Muslim as there is limited data regarding irreligious groups and minorities, especially since many of the Hindu and Sikh Pashtuns migrated from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after the partition of India and later, after the rise of the Taliban.

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Pashtuns's used the Pashtunwali law to unite the Pashtun tribes against their Persian enemies.

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Pashtuns's arranges marriages for her own family and arbitrates conflicts for men and women.

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Pashtuns's was the only woman to appear on the list of rulers in Afghanistan.

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