Also spelled PUSHTOON, or PAKHTOON, Hindustani PATHAN, Persian AFGHAN,
Pashtu-speaking people of Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan.
They constitute the majority of the population of Afghanistan and
bore the exclusive name of Afghan before that name came to denote
any native of the present land area of Afghanistan.
About the origins of the Pashtoon, most scholars believe it more
likely that they arose from an intermingling of ancient Aryans from
the north or west with subsequent invaders. Several Pashtun clans
are known to have moved from Afghanistan to Pakistan between the
13th and 16th century. Each clan, consisting of kinsmen who trace
descent in the male bloodline from a common clanial ancestor, is
divided into subclans, and patriarchal families. Clanial genealogies
establish rights of succession and inheritance and the right to
use tribal lands and to speak in tribal council. Disputes over property,
women, and personal injury often result in blood feuds between families
and whole clans; these may be inherited unless settled by the intervention
of clan chiefs or by council of elder.
The Pashtoon are farmers, herdsmen, and warriors. Most are
sedentary farmers, combining cultivation with animal husbandry;
some are migratory herdsmen and caravaners. Large numbers of them
have always been attracted to military service.
There are estimated to be about 12,500,000(est. 1982) Pashtun in
Afghanistan and 14,000,000 in Pakistan. They comprise about
60 clans of varying size and importance, each of which occupies
a particular territory. In Afghanistan, where Pashtun are the predominant
ethnic group, the main clans are the Durrani and the
In Pakistan, Pashtoon predominate north of Quetta between the Sulaiman
Range and the Indus River. In the hill areas the main clans are,
from south to north: the Kakar, Sherani,
and Ustarana south of the Gumal River; the Mahsud,
Darwesh Khel, Waziri, and Bitani
between the Gumal River and Thal; the Turi, Bangash,
Orakzay, Afridi, and Shinwari
from Thal to the Khyber Pass; and the Mohmand, Utman Khel,
Tarklani, and Yusufzay north and northeast
of the Khyber.
The settled areas include lowland tribes subject to direct administration
by the provincial government. The main clans there are, from south
to north: the Banuchi and Khatak from the Kurram
River to Nowshera; and the Khalil and Mandan in the
Vale of Peshawar.
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