Association Of Pakhtoon Scholars FATA



  1. What are we doing?

    For the bright and prosperous future of our community we are providing educatiion and training facilities to the Pakhtun Tribal

  2. Who are we?

    We are Pakhtun Tribal

  3. Who are tribal?

    Those Pakhtuns who from a very long time live together in chunks of the same tribe; follow their customs & traditions; have malaks as cheiftains; resolve issues (whether personal, political, social etc) through jirga.

  4. What is jirga?

    A jirga comprises of elders and malaks who decide and resolve issues and disputes of their people in accordance with their old traditions

  5. What are the underlying rules and regulations that form the basis of jirga?

    The basis of Jirga is impartiality, equity, justice on one hand and Pakhtun Tradition on the other hand. The principles may differ within various tribes.

  6. Tell me about some of the customs of Pakhtun Society

    By Azim Afridi

    Source:Monthly Diplomat �



    BIRTH: The expected advent of the childis kept secret as far as possible. The expectant mother is keptsecluded and only an old woman proficient in midwifery or one ortwo female relatives are allowed to attend to her. The birth of afemale child generally passes un-noticed but the birth of a malechild is a gayful event; an occasion of rejoicing and festivity.This is because of the fact that the very existence of anindividual under a tribal system, largely depends upon thestrength of arms and man power. Secondly the tribal society ispatriarchical in structure where the law of inheritance restswith the male line. Far more importance is, therefore, attachedto sons as compared to daughters. This, however, does not meanthat daughters are deprived of paternal affection.

    The news of a male child's birth is a happytiding for parents as well as for near relatives. The newsspreads like wild fire in the neighbourhood and messengers hastento distant places to break the happy tidings to paternal andmaternal uncles etc. This is called Zairay. The person whobreaks the good news first to a near relative receives a handsomereward in cash. Relatives and friends felicitate the proudparents and let off their guns as a mark of jubilation. Thefather warmly receives the guests, slaughters a ram or goat andserves a sumptuous lunch to the visiting guests. Sweetmeats arealso distributed among the young and old alike.

    Female relatives also hurry to the house tooffer congratulations to the child's parents. They bringpresents, including clothes for the infant and also offer somemoney. A record of the money, so proffered, is kept for repaymenton a similar occasion. All women who offer money are given Loopatas(Scarfs) in addition to sweetmeats.

    The first important ceremony in the child'slife is performed by the village Mullah or priest or an old piousman. The Mullah whispers Azaan (call to prayers orprofession of faith) in his or her ears. The village Mullahreceives some money for this religious service. The child is alsogiven a dose of indigenous medicine called Ghotti. Thisliquid compound is administered to the child by a pious woman,preferably mother of several sons. Within seven days of thebirth, the child is named as Ayub, Ali, Ishaq, Yaqoob, Aisha,Fatima etc as the custom of naming children after the Prophets,particularly Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him) and his companions, isvery common.

    The infant is wrapped in swaddling clothes withhis hands tied to his body. This binding practice continues forover six months. The idea behind the binding of infants fromshoulders to toes seems to be to prevent him from exhaustion orcausing an injury to himself. For most of the time during theday, the child is kept in a swinging cradle which is in commonuse all over the sub-continent. At night the child is laid besideits mother. The child entirely belongs to the mother, she feedsit, at least, for two years and makes every possible endeavour toprotect it from the malignant eye or the glance of evil spirits.

    Those women who have no male issue pay visitsto they holy shrines on Thursday nights and beseech the favoursof the holy saints for a male child. They offer alms andsometimes bind a stone to one of the flags hanging beside a wallor tree near the saint's mazar. They add one more flag to theexisting numbers when their cherished desire is realised. Thosewomen who give birth to females in succession without any maleissue, curse their misfortune and shed tears of remorse on thebirth of a female child.

    After the child's birth, precautionary measuresare taken to protect the mother from evil spirits and genii. Shedoes not take a bath, at least, for a fortnight after the birthof the child. The mother is never left alone in the house atleast for forty days in succession for fear of evil spirits. Itis generally believed that both mother and child are susceptibleto the influence of genii etc during the first forty days.

    The mother refrains from doing any work for aweek and she resumes her usual occupations after a lapse of 40days.

    SAR KALAI (Head-Shaving): The secondimportant ceremony in a child's life is Sar Kalai or haircutting. When the child is about 40 days old, his or her hairsare shaved by a village barber. The barber is given some moneyfor this service. This event is also celebrated with theslaughter of a goat or sheep for guests.

    SOONAT (Circumcision): The thirdimportant ceremony is know as Soonat i.e. Circumcision ofa male child. The Circumcision ceremony is again performed by thevillage barber when the boy is over one year old. On thisoccasion the boy is made to sit on an earthen platter called Khanakin the compound of the house duly attended by his relatives. Theyalso offer some money to the child. This ceremony is observed bywell-to-do persons with pomp and sumptuous feast.

    SCHOOLING: In the fourth stage thechild, generally is sent to a Mullah in the village mosque forreligious education, including learning by heart of Namazand reading of the Holy Quran. He is first taught KalmaTayyaba and later other tenets of Islam. He also starts goingto school at the age of five to six years. Along with spiritualand temporal education he makes a debut in sports of masculinenature, including wrestling called Parzawal. Later headopts shooting as his hobby. After school hours he goes onshooting excursions and shoots down birds. He uses a catapultlike weapon called Ghulail for hunting. In this stage oflife he develops an aptitude for sporting excursions such astarget shooting and finally starts going round with a rifle slungover his shoulder for self protection. At that time he beginshelping his father in his work. The young girl on the other handassists her mother in household work and shares the domesticduties with her.

    Pukhtoons are fond of rifles and young boys canbe seen carrying rifles under their arms. Seldom will they beseen un-armed. Their fondness for arms is evident from a Pashtoproverb that though they might not have good food they must be inpossession of fine arms.

    WADAH (Marriage): Wadah as ageneral rule, is arranged by parents in Pukhtoon society and theboy and the girl themselves do not play any role in thenegotiations. This is because of the fact that Pukhtoons areconservative by nature. Their conservatism coupled with strictsegregation of sexes makes it impossible for a suitor to select agirl of his own choice even though they may have soft feelingsfor each other. "The Pathan, in sentiment, will sympathisewith lovers in poetry and fiction, but lovers in real life payfor it with their lives". The Pukhtoon society frowns uponany one, who expresses his likeness for any particular girl. Butnow this trend is gradually undergoing a change.

    In the 19th and early 20th centuries severalpeculiar customs were prevalent among the Pukhtoons, particularlythe Afridi, about betrothals. Some of them are:-

    1. Laman Shlawal: (literally tearingskirt). Any woman who was first in tearing the swaddling cloth ofthe newly born girl could establish her claims on the infant.However, marriages under "Laman Shlawal" used totake place among the relatives, but with the spread of educationthis old custom is fast vanishing.

    2. Neewaka (literally to catch or layclaim) can be interpreted as an assertion of claims. This isanother custom under which marriage can be solemnized evenagainst the wishes of the girl's parents. Public claim through Neewakadebars others from making overtures to the girl's family for herhand. Marriages under `Neewaka' often take place amongrelatives, especially the first cousins. This custom is alsodisappearing with the passage of time.

    3. Kwezhdan (Betrothal): As is commoneverywhere, the parents cherish a desire to get their sonsmarried to pretty and virtuous girls of respectable families. Butin the tribal areas more importance was attached to the strengthof arms and family influence of a girl's parents than beauty orother attainments of the bride-to-be. With the ushering in of anera of peace and tranquility this trend has however, undergone adrastic change. The boy is now also consulted while selecting agirl and his views are given due weight in educated families.

    Customary overtures for betrothal commence witha visit by the mother or sisters of the boy, to the girl'sparents. Negotiations for matrimony are undertaken either by theparents themselves or by friends and relatives. As aprecautionary measure the girl's parents make searching enquiriesabout the character, education, occupation and other attributesof the prospective son-in-law. After an informal agreement hasbeen reached, the boy's parents approach the girl's parents in aformal way i.e. a Jirga consisting of relatives andvillage elders calls on the father or elder member of the girl'sfamily. Similarly a female party calls on her mother on the dayof public proposal. The Jirga settles terms and conditionsregarding ornaments, clothes, Mehr (dowry) and Sar(bride's price or head money). The ceremony is rounded off withdistribution of sweats among the people in the Hujra.

    WALWAR: Walwar or head-money,which forms part of the negotiations, is also determined at thetime of engagement. In accordance with the Jirga'sdecision the suitor's parents agree to pay in cash the stipulatedamount to the girl's parents on the day of marriage. A part ofthe payment, is made on the spot. The rest of the money is paidon the marriage day. The dowry is usually meagre.

    The practice of head-money or bride's price hassometimes been criticized as a sort of business transaction orselling out of the girl. This criticism is based on ignorance ofproblems of the tribesmen. The head-money does not mean that thegirl is sold out like a marketable commodity or she is an"economic asset". The idea underlying is to providesome financial relief to the girl's parents while purchasing goldor silver ornaments, clothes, house-hold utensils etc for theirdaughters. If viewed from the Pukhtoon point of view, thehead-money is a matter of honour for them. The more the bride'sprice the more she commands respect in her husband's family. Evenwealthy and prosperous parents, who otherwise do not stand inneed of the head money, reluctantly have to accept this forpreservation of honour of their daughters in her in-law'scircles.

    Inspite of the medical opinion that marriagesamong close relatives have the risk of congenital defects in theoff spring, the practice of consanguineous marriages,particularly with first cousins is a common phenomenon. Anexchange of betrothals, particularly cousins is also generallyeffected. The Pukhtoons feel reluctant to marry their daughtersoutside the family or tribe and they, therefore, prefer marriagesamong blood relations. Preference is given to girls of one's owntribe or sub-tribe, in case no girl is available within thefamily. There is no fixed age for betrothals and they usuallytake place a year or two before the marriage. In some casesengagements are contracted in childhood.

    PAKHA AZADA: Pakha Azada or PkhayArtha means free visits between the fiancee and fiance'sfamilies. These calls upon each other begin a few days after thebetrothal. The prospective bridegroom's parents pay a visit tothe girl's house and present her with a gold ring or a pair ofsilken clothes. They also send her presents on Eid and otherauspicious occasions. This is called Barkha or the girl'sshare. Once the girl is engaged, she starts observing purdah fromher would be in-laws, both men and women.

    WADAH (Marriage): Marriage ceremoniesusually take place on Thursday and Fridays. Marriage festivitiescommence three days before the scheduled date of the actualmarriage. At night village maidens assemble in the bridegroom'shouse and sing epithalamia called Sandaras to the beat ofdrums and tambourine. Three or four respectable but elderly womenvisit the house of the bride a night before the marriage fordying her hands and feet with henna and for braiding her hairinto three or more plaits. The braiding of hair is generallyentrusted to a woman with several male children. The bride's Jorraor special bridal dress and ornaments etc are normally sent a daybefore the marriage. The bridegroom serves two meals to his ownguests as well as the bride's villagers. Usually the feast isgiven on the wedding day.

    JANJ (Marriage Party): The bridalprocession is called Janj. On the day of a marriage, thevillage of the bridegroom wears a happy look. Old and youngalike, wear their best clothes. The marriage party or Janjgenerally starts for the bride's village at noon time withmusicians leading the procession. The Wra or femalemarriage party starts from the village to the sound of drums andthe male participants let off their guns.

    NAKHA WEESHTAL (Target Shooting): ThePukhtoons are fine shots. Target shooting is one of theirfavourite games and a fascinating feature of the marriageceremonies. The bride's villagers invite the bridegroom's partyto target shooting competition. The challenge is accepted by theothers to show their mettle. The target is generally placed in acliff, a rocky defile or at a place where it hardly comes in therange of the bullet. It is also one of the tribal customs thatthe Janj does not leave the village without hitting thetarget. The man who hits the target first receives a Lungi(a turban) as a prize for his accurate marksmanship.

    NIKAH (Wedlock): The target shootingover, friends and relatives of the bridegroom assemble in thevillage mosque for Nikah, by the Pesh-Imam or thereligious leader. On this occasion the bride proposes the name ofbridegroom's brother, uncle or any other near relative as her NikahFather (Attorney). It becomes the moral duty of Nikah Father togive paternal love and affection to the bride and treat her atpar with his own children.

    The Pesh-Imam repeats the names of the brideand bridegroom three times and seeks the approval of thebridegroom in the presence of two witnesses and some villageelders. After this he recites a few verses from the Holy Quranand declares the couple wedded to each other. The Imam is givensome money for this religious service.

    NAINDRA: At the time of Nikah, friendsand relatives of the bridegroom contribute money to lighten hisfinancial burden. This is called Naindra. It can belikened to a debt of honour or some sort of financial helprepayable to the donors on a similar occasion. A proper record ofthe subscriptions is maintained and the names of the subscribersare entered into a note book for future reference.

    RUKHSATI: While men remain busy intarget shooting, the female party gives a display of its skill insinging and folk dances. Divided into two groups they sing in theform of a duet. Sometimes they form a circle and dance and singin a chorus. This is called Balbala. After this theparents bid farewell to the bride.

    The bride is handed over to the bridegroom'srelatives in a solemn ceremony. One of her younger brothersconducts her to a Doli or a palanquin and a handful ofmoney is showered over the Doli. The bride accompanied bythe marriage party is led to a car or bus. The doli iscarried on the shoulders if the distance is less than a mile. Onthe way back home one can witness scenes of merry making. Thefemale party sings happy songs and men fire crackers and volleysof shots in the air.

    On arrival at the village, the village youthscarry the doli to the bridegroom's house. They do notplace the doli on the ground till they are rewarded. Afterthis the bride is made to sit on a decorated cot. All the womenhasten to see her face. The mother-in-law or sister-in-law takethe lead in un-veiling her face and other female relatives followsuit. This is called Makh Katal. The bride is presentedwith some money on this occasion. The record of such donations isalso kept for re-payment on a similar occasion. Thus the marriageceremony comes to an end with the transfer of the bride from hernatal to marital house and distribution of sweats both in the Hujraand the house.

    Wealthy people make a display of pomp and showat the time of marriage. The services of dancing girls andmusicians are acquired to entertain the guests. However, such adisplay of extravagance is now disappearing.

    The Pukhtoons in general feel reluctant to givetheir daughters in marriage to non-Pukhtoons but they are notaverse to marrying girls of respectable non-Pukhtoon families. Itis not usual for a Pukhtoon to take spouse from another tribe.They also disapprove of overtures for the hand of a youngerdaughter in the presence of an un-betrothed elder daughter.

    Marriages with widowed sisters-in-law arecommon and a brother considers it his bounden duty to marry thewidow of his deceased brother. The widow, however, is notcompelled to marry her brother-in-law or anyone else for thatmatter against her wishes. In most cases widowed Pukhtoon womenprefer not to marry after the death of their husbands. If she haschildren, it is thought most becoming to remain single.

    Child marriages are un-common. Polygamy ispracticed on a limited scale. A Pukhtoon takes a second wife onlywhen the first one is issueless or differences between thehusband and wife assume proportions beyond compromise. Divorcesare not common as the Pukhtoons abhor the very idea of a Talaqor divorce. The word Zantalaq (one who has divorced hiswife) is considered an abuse and against the Pukhtoon's sense ofhonour. Such an abuse sometimes results in murders and bloodfeuds.

    DEATH: The Pukhtoons are very social,humane and friendly. They share each other's joys and sorrows.Their sympathetic behaviour can be judged from the fact that theygive more importance to participation in funeral processions thanfestive occasions like marriages etc.

    At the time of someone's death, the elders ofthe surrounding villages come to the village Hujra toexpress their sense of grief and sympathy with the bereavedfamily and the youngsters hasten to the graveyard for digging agrave and making necessary funeral arrangements. The women of theneighbourhood also go to the house of the bereaved familycarrying articles of daily use such as sugar, gur, wheat, riceetc and to offer condolences.

    The moment any one expires, his eyes areclosed, toes tied, face turned towards Kaaba and placed ona cot (charpaee) in the courtyard. Women sit around thedead body in a circle and weep over it in unison. The lamentationis generally joined by the females of the neighbourhood.Embracing the wife, mother and sisters of the deceased andwailing over the passing away of their dear ones, is thetraditional way of lamentation and expression of sorrow. Thewailing also includes words in praise of the deceased. Suchpraise assumes "the form of the chanting of short rhythmicalphrases of rhymed prose or verse". This presents such a sadspectacle that it makes even the onlookers burst into tears. Somewomen, in a state of deep anguish, resort to Weer i.e.beating of face and chest with both hands and with loud sobs. Theburial takes place on the day of death, if the death occurs inthe morning, otherwise on the following day.

    Weeping in the house continues for at leastthree days but it sometimes continues intermittently for afortnight or even forty days. No marriages take place among thedeceased's near relatives till the first anniversary of thedeceased is observed. Only in rare cases marriages take placewithin a year of the occurrence of death and that, too, with theconsent of the members of the bereaved family. Music and jollyactivities are avoided for at least forty days. The deceased'sfamily is fed by relatives and friends for three or seven days.

    FUNERAL: Before burial, the corpse isbathed by the village Mullah or some other old man. The dead bodyis usually washed in the veranda or in a corner of the house. Afew candles or a lamp is lighted at this place in the evening forat least three nights to scare away the evil spirits, and peopleavoid passing over the spot. After the bath the dead body iswrapped in a shroud, placed on a bier, a sheet thrown over it andthen taken to the village graveyard in a funeral procession. Thefuneral procession is preceded by a Mullah and three or fourpersons, carrying the Holy Quran on their heads. Friends andrelatives join the funeral procession and carry the bier turn byturn. Even passers-by become the pal-bearers and accompany theprocession for some distance for the attainment of Sawab(pious act). The Janaza prayers (recitation of the burialservice by an Imam) joined by mourners from all over the area,are offered in the community graveyard and then the body islowered into the grave which is always dug north to south withits face turned towards the Kaaba. Later special prayersare offered for the eternal peace of the departed soul. After theburial, alms are distributed among the poor and indigent at thegraveyard. This is called Iskat. The Pukhtoons considerthe payment of Iskat as an essential part of the religiousservice and a question of their prestige. Even the poor, who canhardly afford two square meals, borrow money for this purpose tovindicate their honour. It is also one of the customs to presenton this occasion a few copies of the Holy Quran to the Mullahs ofthe area for Quran Khwani (recitation) on the followingfour Thursdays.

    KHAIRAT: The burial ceremony over, somefood is served in charity to the poor. This is called Khairat.Rice is cooked in a few cauldrons and the participants in thefuneral procession are invited to partake of it. The ulema havepreached against this custom, time and again but with littlepositive effect.

    DRAIMA: The third day of the death iscalled Draima in Pashto or Qul in Urdu. The day isobserved with due solemnity. The women of the vicinity assemblein the deceased's house on that day. They pay a visit to thegraveyard in the morning, lay a floral wreath on the grave andoffer Fateha. Meanwhile, friends and relatives continuepouring into the village Hujra for offering condolences.This practice continues at least for seven days.

    SALWEKHTI: The 40th day of the death iscalled Salwekhti in Pashto. The day is rounded off withKhatm-e-Quran, Khairat and distribution of alms. It is observedon a Thursday, five or seven weeks after the day of death.

    One laudable custom among the Pukhtoons is thatthe villagers take upon themselves to supply meals and tea to thebereaved family for three consecutive days after the death. Theyalso look after the guests of the family in the village Hujra.In certain cases the food is continuously supplied for sevendays. In some villages expenses on account of the shroud cloth,Khairat and other matters connected with the burial arecollectively borne by the fellow villagers as with each head ofthe family contributing some money for this purpose.

    The Pukhtoons have an immense love for theirmotherland. They cherish a desire to be buried in their ancestralgraveyards beside their near and dear ones. In case they die in aforeign land their bodies are brought home for burial. Even onthe battle field the Pukhtoons do not leave their dead behind andcarry them at a great personal risk.


  7. What are the Pakhtuns Institutions

    By Azim Afridi

    Source: Monthly Diplomat



    HUJRA: The Hujra which representsthe sociable character of the Pukhtuns is a useful institution and it plays apivotal role in their daily life. It serves as a club, "dormitory, guesthouse and a place for ritual and feastings". It is a centre for socialactivities as well as a Council Hall for the settlement of family andinter-tribal disputes. It is used as a male dormitory where bachelors of thevillage sleep. It is a guest house where guests are jointly entertained byvillage folk and a community centre for betrothals, marriages and socialfunctions. Even condolences are offered in the Hujra on the demise of aperson and here sympathy is expressed with the bereaved family. It is a placeof public resort where village elders and youngsters get-together in theirleisure hours to discuss tribal, national and international affairs and mattersof mutual interest. "The guests and strangers are fed and sheltered freeof all charges in the village Hujras".

    The Hujra and Jirga are interrelated. It is not only a meeting place of the villagers but it is also used asa platform for the Jirga's meetings where important decisions are madeand family quarrels and tribal disputes are amicably resolved. In some placesthe Hujra happens to be the property of one man but in tribal areas itis a common property. Hujra, hubble bubble (Cheelam) and Rabab(String instrument) and an earthen pitcher are inseparable and are consideredits part and parcel. Though the hubble bubble still retains its old place yetthe music of Rabab with the accompaniment of the pitcher is vanishingand their place is being taken up by radio, transistor and television sets.

    The Hujras are generally well fortified.They have one or two towers with a loopholed parapet for the purpose of defenceof the village and firing down and along the wall in case of an outbreak ofhostilities. The youngsters of the village in general and bachelors inparticular sleep in the Hujra to guard the village in case of bloodfeuds. The Hujra usually consists of two or three rooms with adjacentveranda and a courtyard. A number of bedsteads or charpaees, pillows and quiltsand praying rugs available in Hujra for the guests.

    JIRGA: "A mass meeting of the elders of the whole of the Afridi tribe, for instance, would correspond very much to the old `Shiremote' of the Saxon heptarchy; and, indeed, there is more in the simile than one would expect at first glance, for the democratic spirit that is so characteristic a feature in the gradual growth of English customs finds its counterpart in the spirit of liberty and right of free action that is one of the most cherished prerogatives of the Pathan tribesmen, be he ever so humble".

    (The Hon. Arnold Kepple).


    Democracy is not alien to the genius of the Pukhtuns,as they are carrying on their typical and rudimentary form of government ondemocratic principles since times immemorial. A unique feature of tribal lifeis the Jirga system, a council or assembly of tribal elders whichclosely resembles the Athenian democracy of the City States of ancient Greece.This participatory sort of democracy was practiced by the Pukhtuns long beforeLocke, Rouseau and other eminent philosophers expounded their theories aboutdemocracy.

    Pukhtunwali is the code of ethics of the Pukhtuns,the Jirga their Parliament or National Assembly and intrepidity andfrankness an essential trait of their character. An atmosphere of equalitypervades in tribal area and even a poor man dressed in rags considers himselfequal to his adversary or his rich compatriot. This spirit is well reflected intheir Jirga system, which, like the ancient Greek democraticinstitutions signifies their love for democracy.

    The Jirga of today also plays an importantand constructive role in solving the tribal matters. It is an authority forsettling disputes and dispensing even-handed justice to all and sundryirrespective of their social status, influence and wealth. All mattersincluding the question of peace and war within tribal limits, fall within thepurview of the Jirga. It consists of the leading Maliks and tribalelders. There are no hard and fast rules for the selection of Jirgamembers. All tribal elders Speen Geeri or (grey-beards) are consideredeligible for its membership and each one of them has a right to speak andfreely express his opinion. However, Jirgas generally consist of personsknown for their honesty and integrity. The Jirga exercises bothexecutive and judicial roles and settles all disputes pertaining to thedistribution of land, property, blood feuds, blood money and other importantinter-tribal affairs on the basis of tribal conventions, traditions andprinciples of justice. It performs judicial functions while settling a disputeand discharges police functions when a threat to peace and tranquility ordanger to the life and property exists within tribal limits.

    The Jirga usually deals with inter-tribalaffairs and serves as an instrument for dispensing speedy and cheap justice.After careful consideration, the Jirga decides the disputes on the basisof available evidence.

    The Jirga assembles in a Hujra or avillage mosque or in an open field outside the village under a shady tree. The Jirgamembers usually sit in a circle without any presiding officer. This Round TableConference like a meeting without a chairman clearly reflects their love ofdemocracy and principle of equality irrespective of birth, wealth etc.

    The Jirga conducts its proceedings in asimple manner. It interviews both the parties, gives them a patient hearing andexamines witnesses to ascertain the facts of the case. After searchingenquiries, the Jirga makes every possible endeavour to find an impartialand acceptable solution of the problem. The Jirga's decision isgenerally based on Shariat, local traditions, justice and fair-play. In seriouscases the Jirga asks a party to clear itself of the imputed charge by anoath on the Holy Quran. This seals the issue once for all, as the religion isan extremely strong a force. It announces its decision only when the majorityof its members reach an agreement. But Jirga members deem it prudent toobtain the consent of both the parties before making its verdict public. Thispractice is known as WAAK or IKHTIAR (Power of attorney). It isthrough the instrument of Waak or Ikhtiar that the Jirgacommits both the parties to abide by its decision. The Waak also gives abinding force or some sort of legal cover to the Jirga's verdict and itbecomes incumbent upon the parties concerned to honour its verdict.

    The Jirga reprimands the party whichrefuses to accept its award. In popular parlance this refusal to abide by theverdict of Jirga is called MAKH ARAWAL (lit, turning of face) orexpression of disapproval over the party's behaviour. In such a case the Jirgaalso resorts to punitive measures for enforcement of its decision whichincludes fine in money and burning of the houses of the recalcitrant members.It is because of such stringent action that no one dares violate a Jirga'sdecision after customary approval in the form of Waak or Ikhtiar.The Jirga does not interfere in small and petty family disputes until aformal request is made by a party to intercede on its behalf. Moreover in casesof grave concern and serious nature, the Jirga assembles on its own andpersuades the parties concerned to submit to its award.

    The Jirga meeting usually lasts for a dayor two, but in some complicated cases, its deliberations are prolonged to threeor four days. It remains, however, the utmost endeavour of the Jirga tosettle the dispute amicably as early as possible.

    It is also one of the functions of the Jirgato ensure law and order and lasting and durable peace in the area. Here the Jirgacan be likened to the General Assembly of the United Nations. As all peaceloving nations can become members of the General Assembly, similarly the Jirgais composed of such elders who have stainless characters and spotless records.As no decision is taken in the United Nations without a majority vote, likewisethe majority opinion prevails in the Jirga. But here the similarityends. The Jirga is more powerful as compared to the General Assembly. Itcan easily enforce its decisions through a tribal lashkar and the erring partyor the dissident group is promptly punished.



  8. Tell me about the Religious and Social life of a Pakhtun


    FAMILY: An attractive feature of the Pukhtunway of life is the joint family system which signifies their deep love for thefamily's solidarity and welfare. The desire of communal life emanates from aconsideration of economic security and integrity. All the family members, eventhe married sons, live jointly in a house large enough to separatelyaccommodate each married couple under the authority of the father who, as headof the family, manages the family affairs and exercises an immense influence inhis own domain.

    All the earning hands of the family, married aswell as un-married sons, contribute their share of income to the common pool ofresources. All expenses on food, clothing, education, health, birth, marriagesand deaths are defrayed from this common fund. The mantle of authority falls onthe eldest son's shoulders after the death of the father or when old agerenders him unable to discharge his functions efficiently. The system of Nikat(ancestral line) which regulates the shares of losses and gains, debts andliabilities of each family, is the mainstay of Pukhtun society. The internalmanagement of the household rests with the mother who exercises her authoritywithin her own sphere of influence. The joint family system, however, isgradually giving way to individualistic trends under the impact of moderninfluences. It is losing its hold, particularly on educated classes and welloff sections.


    The Pukhtun children are taught to show a greatdegree of respect to their parents and elders. Senior members of the family,particularly elders, command great respect. Parents are properly and reverentlylooked after in old age and every effort is made to provide them with allpossible comforts. There is a famous Pashto maxim that "Paradiselies under the feet of the parents" and Pukhtuns true to their faith leaveno stone un-turned in obtaining their blessings. It is generally believed thatparents' curses bring sorrows, miseries and hardships. Sons and daughters,therefore, refrain from incurring the displeasure and curses of their fathersand mothers.

    The elder's opinion prevails in all importantmatters. Kashars or youngsters of the community rise from their seats asa mark of respect when an elderly person enters the Hujra. Youngstersare normally not expected to talk or laugh loudly or smoke a cigarette or huqqain the presence of their elders. Even in tribal Jirgas the youngermembers of the village are not allowed to speak. Everything is left to thediscretion of their elders.

    MANNERS: The Pukhtuns have several ways ofgreeting and salutation. Strangers passing on a road or thoroughfare exchangecourtesies such as "Starrey ma shey" (May you not be tired)and "Pa khair raghley" (welcome). This is answered by "Khudaide mal sha" (May God be with you), "Pa khair ossey"(May you live in peace) and "Ma khwaraigey" (May you not bepoor). The Pukhtuns usually embrace their friends and relatives when they meetthem after a long absence and warmly receive each other by a hearty handshake.This is followed by a train of questions about each others' welfare like "Jorryey" (Are you alright?), "Khushal yey" (Are youhappy?), "Takkrra yey" (Are you hale and hearty?) "WarraZagga Jorr di" (Are your family members hale and hearty?) and "PaKor key Khairyat de" (Is every body well at home?).

    A visitor entering a village Hujra isgreeted with the traditional slogan of "Har Kala Rasha" (Mayyou always come) and he replies "Har kala ossey" (May youalways abide). Friends while parting commit each other to the care of God bysaying "Pa makha de kha" (May you reach your destinationsafely), and "Da khudai pa aman" (To the protection of God).

    When meeting a pious or an elderly person, a Pukhtunbows a little and keeps his hands on his chest as a mark of veneration. Whentalking about a deceased person, they often say "Khudai de obakhi"(May God forgive him). If a man suddenly appears at the time of conversationbetween some or more persons about him, they immediately exclaim "Omarde ziyat de, Oss moyadawalay" (You have a long life, we were just talking about you). ThePukhtuns very often use the word "Inshaallah" (God Willing) "KaKhudai ta manzura wee" "Ka Khair Wee" (if all goes well)when they promise to accomplish a task at a particular time.


    One of the outstanding characteristics of the Pukhtuns,as gleaned from their record, is their passionate love for freedom and violentopposition to any infringement of their liberty. They have preserved their libertyby the force of arms despite heavy odds. Inspite of their ignorance of militaryscience, modern techniques of warfare, lack of sophisticated weapons andmaterial resources, they held their own against every invader, including theBritish who were one of the most powerful empire builders of their time.

    Though at times Pukhtuns were temporarilysubdued, they could never be held in permanent subjugation or tied in theshackles of bondage. They offered staunch resistance to any one who ventured toencroach upon their liberty and refused to submit tamely to the position of thevanquished. "Their character, organisation and instincts" says DavidDitcher, "have made them independent and strongly democratic, so much sothat even their own leaders have little real control over them".

    It is one of the striking features of Pukhtuns ingeneral and Afridis in particular that they give up their individual disputesand tribal feuds, sink their differences temporarily according to theexigencies of the time, form a Sarishta or take a unanimous decision forcollective action and fight shoulder to shoulder against their common foe. Thismost remarkable trait was duly noticed by Edward E. Oliver. "The mostdemocratic and dis-united people among themselves", he says, "un-controlledand often un-controllable even by their own chiefs, all the clans haveuniformly joined in hostility to us whenever opportunity offered".

    The Pukhtuns are fond of firearms which theypossess for their personal protection, honour and defence of their homeland."They are never without weapon when grazing their cattle, while drivingbeasts of burden; when tilling the soil, only their dots. The love of firearmsis a trait in their character, they will enlist or work in order to get thewherewithal and buy matchlock or rifle, the latter being preferred; and if anAfridi at the end of his service has not sufficient to buy one, he makes noscruples of walking off with his rifle and ammunition". Being gallant andcourageous they love to join the army principally to show their mettle on thebattle field.

    Unsurpassed in vigil and marksmanship every Pukhtunis almost an army in himself. The writings of many British officers beartestimony to their magnificent fighting qualities, especially of the Afridis,Mahsuds and Waziris who are described by them as "carefulSkirmishers" and the best guerilla force of the world in their own hills.The Frontier, as a matter of fact, became the best training ground and anexcellent school of soldiering for the British Officers for about a century. Itwas on account of their martial qualities that they are looked upon as the"Sword arm of Pakistan".

    Among redoubtable Pukhtun adventurers stand outin bold relief the names of Ajab Khan Afridi, Multan Khan, Kamal Khan, AjabKhan Yousafzai, Dilasa Khan, Chakkai and Jaggar.


    By and large the Pukhtuns are deeply religious.The land of these highlanders has experienced the influence of religiousleaders for a long time, who, after making their way into the mountains arousedthe religious sentiments of the local people and rallied them under the bannerof Islam against the enemies of their religion. Besides less known divines, whooccasionally sprang up and played their short but spectacular part on thestormy stage of the Frontier, the names of Akhund of Swat, Hadda Mullah, HajiSahib of Turangzai, Mullah Powindah, Faqeer of Ipi, Mullah Syed Akbar or AkaKhel Mullah, Gud Mullah, Lewaney (mad) Mullah, Karbogha Mullah, Faqir ofAlingar and Chaknawar Mullah also figure prominently in the religio-politicalhistory of the Frontier. Saints and divines exercised immense spiritual andpolitical influence over their minds and it was on account of their religiouszeal and fervour that they proclaimed a holy war (Jehad) againstinfidels. They fought a number of battles against the Sikhs under theleadership of Syed Ahmed Barelvi Shaheed and Syed Ismael Shaheed and laterunder the influence of the above noted religious divines and stalwarts.

    Owing to their strong religious feelings for theirbrethren-in-faith, the Turks, a large number of Pukhtuns, especially theAfridis, deserted in large number from British army in France,Mesopotamia and Egyptin the First World War. They were averse to fighting against theirco-religionists and that was why the General Officer Commanding in Chief,Egyptian Expeditionary Force, was compelled in November, 1917 to repatriatethree Indian officers and 202 other ranks and all Frontier Pukhtuns of 58thRifles from Egypt and recommended ban on their recruitment on account of their"bad behaviour".

    The Pukhtuns are punctilious in offering theirdaily prayers and observance of fast during the month of Ramazan. Writing aboutthe devotion of Pukhtuns to their religion, Major H. B. Edwards says,"whatever occupation they might be engaged in, whether business orpleasure, it was always interrupted at the hour of prayers". He adds,"in my tent, which was always full of people concerned in some case orother, they would break off the conversation, and ask to be excused for amoment; then take a scarf and spreading it in the corner towards Mecca,devoutly commence their genuflections". Each Pukhtun village has a mosquein which a Mullah or Pesh-Imam leads the daily prayers andimparts religious education to the village children. The Mullah isserved free meals and he receives Zakat and alms from village folk. Alms givingand Zakat is common and Haj is performed by men of means. Alms giving isespecially resorted during adversities and food is also served to the poor. Onthe occasion of Eid, Barawafat, Muharram, Shab-e-Barat and certain otherreligious day rich food is prepared to invoke the blessings of Allah.

    The holy men, Saints, Sayyids and Mians are heldin deep reverence. They give amulets and charms to the people which areconsidered to be antidote to illness, disease, calamity and evil influences.They are shown utmost respect and their hands are kissed in acknowledgement oftheir priety. The practice of Piri-Murid (Teacher-student relation insuphism) is also common. A Pir or religious preceptor guides his Muridor disciple in his spiritual progress. For this purpose he takes a Bai'at(affiliates himself) at the hands of the Pir who enjoys the reputation of holyman and has the ability to guide him in establishing commission with God.Sometimes lunatics and impostors are also mistaken for saintly persons. But theyounger generation equipped with modern education and imbued with the spirit ofenlightenment, is immune from such influences.

    SHRINES: Being orthodox Muslims withstrong religious susceptibilities the Pukhtuns hold holy men and their shrinesin high esteem. The devotees pay frequent visits to shrines and enter thepresincts bare-footed and entreat the saint's blessings for the restoration offalling health, wealth and success in certain other ventures. The more a saintenjoys reputation, the more his tomb attracts devotees. Certain ziarats(shrines) have a special reputation for the cure of specific ailments and arecredited with certain other virtues. For example prayers are offered for thebirth of a male child at Ziarat Kaka Sahib and Pir Baba and visits to severalother shrines are considered effective for curing of madness, rheumatism, dogbites, hysteria and certain other ailments. The visitors and devotees,particularly women bring back a handful of salt or gur which is believedto be a cure for illness. For Muslims, Friday is a sacred day and visits to theshrines are paid on Thursday or the night preceding Friday. Pukhtuns, like allgood and devout Muslims, raise their hands and offer Fateha whilepassing by a graveyard.

    Shrines are the safest places in tribal areas andthe tribesmen keep their articles in them without any fear of pilfering. No onedares to lay hands on any article kept in a shrine due to the sanctity of theplace and possible wrath of the buried saint. Reputable shrines are often underthe charge of a care-taker (known as Munjawar in Pashto and Mutawaliin Urdu) or a fakir who lives on the premises and collects donations both incash and kind from the devotees to provide water and food to future visitors (langar).The trees around a shrine are never cut and the birds enjoy complete safety.The observance of Urs or annual festival at various Ziarats isalso common. The devotees attend these gatherings annually for two days inlarge number and engage themselves in Zikar or religious meditation.

    Eid-ul-Fitr or Kamkay Akhtar andEid-ul-Azha or Loe or Star Akhtar are the two main festivals which areobserved with great zeal. In some places a fair is held on the Eid day while atothers on the day following the Eid. The boys make large bonfires called Katamirsand kindle them on a hill top in the evening, preceding the Eid Day. Young andold alike, wear new clothes on Eid Day, and the entire area wears a festivelook just as Christmas is celebrated by the Christians.

    Moharram and Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi or `Bara Wafat'are also observed with deep reverence and due solemnity. Pious men among the Pukhtunsengage themselves in prayers particularly during Lailatul Qadar or"the night of power". On this night the Holy Quran was revealed tothe Holy Prophet of Islam. The night of Lailatul Qadar has beendescribed in the Holy Quran as better than a thousand months. Muslim juristsdiffer in their opinion regarding the date of its occurrence. Some of them areof the opinion that this night falls on 21st or 23rd of Ramadan while othersbelieve that it falls on 27th or 29th. However, all the doctors of MohammadanLaw agree that Lailatul Qadar falls during the last ten days of the holymonth of Ramazan and every prayer is accepted on this auspicious occasion.

    TOBAY WESTAL: After a persistent dry spellwhen drought conditions prevail, the people of the villages headed by the Mullahscome out to the fields and offer prayers, at least for three consecutive days.This is called "Tobhay Westal" or supplicating God for rain.Besides, children of the village come out in streets and collect wheat, maizeand barley from the houses of the village. While collecting grain the childrenchant in a chorus:- Ka cha ra karruloo ghanam - Khudai ba war kerri srazaman (God in turn will give sons to anyone who gives wheat), Ka cha rakarraloo joowar, Khudai ba war karri war pa war (God in turn will give sonsone after another who gives maize) Ka cha ra Karreley Orbashey - Khudaya tawar Sara Kha shey (May God bless those who give us barley). After thecollection of grain the children cook it and after serving it to the poor theypray for rains. They also go to the nearby graveyard and sprinkle water ongraves.

    SUPERSTITIONS: Doud Dastoor orcustoms and traditions are in fact the product of historical, geographical andeconomic conditions. Evolved in process of time, social usages become theguiding principles of day to day life and all individuals living in aparticular society feel bound to abide by them.

    It is a common phenomenon that customary laws ofthe masses are not free from religious and even superstitious influences. In Pukhtuncustoms at least some of them are also not immune from such influences. The useof amulets and talismans has already been mentioned. Besides, strange ways andmeans are devised by them to protect themselves from the evil eye and evileffects of Jinni and demons. Pukhtun women believe that evil spiritscannot come near a newly born infant if a knife or a dagger is put near itspillow or at its head. Therefore, they always keep a sharp edged weapon besidesthe infant's pillow to ward off evil spirits. The child may be sick andsuffering from diarrhoea, dyspepsia or any other malaise, but the oldgrandmother will ascribe it to the influence of some evil spirits. Instead oftaking him to a doctor's clinic for treatment, she mutters charms and throwsred hot metal in cold water to scare away the evil spirit or a possible evileye. This, she believes, is the only remedy to cure the infant's illness. Andif these charms do not work, she is convinced that the child is suffering fromthroat trouble. She takes him to some experienced man or woman of the localityfor raising its uvula. This, in Pashto called is Jabai Porta Kawal.

    The raising of uvula is common all over thetribal areas. Some raise it by putting the index finger inside the child'smouth while others put a handkerchief around child's neck and give him a fewjolts after muttering of charms. Not contented with this the mother will putamulets (Tawiz) round the child's neck as a protection against the evil eye or BadNazar. The amulets written by a pious man and woven in a string aresuspended round the child's neck. Some of these amulets are sewn in a cloth,some are wrapped in a leather or silver leaf inset with costly stones,depending on the financial position of the child's parents. Sometimes a blackspot (Kalak) is put on the child's forehead in an attempt to protect himagainst the evil eye. In certain clans a child is deliberately kept dirty andill clad for warding off the evil spirits. The claws of a leopard or a lion arealso sometimes hung around their necks. The old grandmother also believes incharms. She takes a handful of wild rue (called Spailanay in Pashto) which isconsidered a panacea for warding off a malignant eye. She puts some wild rue onred hot coals and starts revolving the bowl round the ailing child whilechanting some magical incantations. This is called "Nazar Matawal" orremoving effects of the evil eye. After the wild rue is burnt it is kept in thedoor way of the house with smoke emitting from it. Sometimes an old woman takesa few red chillies, revolves them round a sick persons's head and then puts thepods in the fire. There is a famous maxim in Pashto that the Da ranz ranzoorraghaigee, Da stargo ranzoor na raghaigee", i.e. `an ailing person mayrecover from illness but ailment caused by an evil eye cannot be cured'. Onother occasions a goat or lamb is slaughtered and the blood of the sacrificedanimal is sprinkled on the door or wall of the house to ward off possiblenatural calamities. But as a result of the general rise in education, theeducated tribesmen no longer believe in such superstitions. They take theirchildren straight to a doctor's clinic in case of illness.

    When a baby is carried out of the house, a veilis placed over its face to protect it against the possible affect of an evileye. Some men and women are notorious for a malignant or evil eye. It isgenerally believed that their looks can break even a hard stone into pieces.Similarly mothers desist from carrying infants while visiting a house wheredeath has occurred because of fear of Bad Ghag or evil voice. They alsohave recourse to some other expedients to guard the child against evil spirits.

    Besides this, several other superstitions areprevalent in Pukhtun society. For example, the cawing of the crow on a housewall or top of a nearby tree is considered as a sign of the impending arrivalof some guests. Similarly, falling of flour on the ground at the time ofkneading is interpreted to mean that some guests or visitors can be expected.The howling of dogs at night is considered a bad omen, indicating the comingsickness or death of some one in the family.

    The winking of the right eye lid is taken to meana happy tiding and throbbing of a left eye lid as a bad omen. In case of ahiccup, it is generally believed that an absent friend or relative isremembering. While removing shoes, if perchance, one shoe lands on top of theother, it is thought that the person would undertake a journey in the nearfuture. If the right palm starts itching, it is believed that money will comeinto his hands. On the contrary if the left hand itches it is generallybelieved that the person will lose some money. The crowing of a hen, which isquite un-usual, is considered a bad omen and it is killed the moment it crows.

    The sight of a dirty man or a sweeper early inthe morning is considered un-lucky. Similarly a distinction is made betweenfortunate and unfortunate days. Certain days are considered lucky for journeyswhile others are believed to be un-lucky. If a person dies at a place otherthan his village or home town, a black hen is slaughtered before the engine ofa car or bus at the time of taking the corpse to its native place for burial.Similarly a black hen is slaughtered in between the fore-legs of the horse ormare of the tongain which the corpse is carried. The tribal Pukhtuns refrain from incurring theill-will of Pirs and Fakirs and even men possessed with an evil tongue called TorJabay. The speech of Tor Jabay is considered more deadly than alethal weapon and his curses may become harbingers of misfortune.

    The Pukhtuns generally rely on dreams. The sightof a white or green object, in a dream, is considered auspicious while blackobjects, fire and floods etc are considered inauspicious. They have a strongbelief in destiny. Fate is considered as absolute and un-changeable.

    Some strange notions are found among Pukhtunsabout the "Whirlwind of dust which spins abut in autumn". It isgenerally believed that the whirlwind is caused by a jin. Similarly when astorm blows for two or three days, the Pukhtuns are heard saying that someinnocent man might have been brutally assassinated somewhere. A child born feetfirst is called "Sakki". It is generally believed that "a fewgentle kicks from one, so born", can relieve pain in the back. During thewinter when it rains continuously for a week or so, the children erect dollsmade of flour clay called "Ganjyan". The ganjyan are considered ameans of stopping the rain. The taking of fal or omen from somereligious book is commonly believed and practiced. On Shab-e-Barat the villagewomen assemble in a house. Each woman puts a ring, comb or some other object inan empty pitcher and a small boy or girl is deputed to take them out one byone. At the time of taking out an article, a woman recites a few verses such as"Ma jagh kawa ma spara, Khudai ba dar karri pa tayyara" i.e.God will provide you with food even without ploughing fields. The better theverse in composition, the more it is considered auspicious. In matterspertaining to superstitions Pukhtuns now do not believe much in fabulous talesdue to the general rise in education. But the illiterate, particularly thosewho live in inaccessible hilly tracts, are comparatively more superstitiousthan the people living in the plains. Charms and omens are generally believedin by the un-educated masses, especially the women.

    Though there are several references to theexistence of spirits in the Holy Quran and Ahadith, yet belief in geniiis considered as a superstition by almost all the European writers. It wouldnot be without interest for the readers to know some thing about Pukhtun'sbelief in jins. The Pukhtuns believe in genii, evil spirits and Churailetc. The genii, it is believed, can assume the form of a human being, beast,animal or of anything they want to. The genii are stated to be of two kinds ____believers and non-believers and good and bad. If a good tempered jin takes afancy to a person, it will attend upon him like a faithful and devoted friend,ready to render him any service even at odd hours. The genii or fairies called Khapairayin Pashto are particularly known for their friendliness and there areinnumerable tales of fairies sincerely devoted to their male friends. Thesecreatures, which are described as resplendently handsome, help their friends inmaking fortunes. It has almost become proverbial about a poor man prospering inlife that he has drunk a fairy's milk. Any person possessed by a Jin isbelieved to have the power of discovering stolen articles and predicting thefuture. When asked to give information about a certain object, he or she willexcite himself or herself in a state of hysteria or induce a trance to make thepredictions.

    A man acting like a lunatic is believed to havebeen possessed by a Jin. It is a common belief that the Jin possesses thevictim's tongue and controls all his actions. When it occurs, a Sayyid, Mian ora learned Mullah credited with the power of exorcising the evil spirits isimmediately sent for. He recites a few verses from the Holy Quran and conjuresthe jin to depart. The exorcist addresses the jin in a threatening language toleave, if soft words and entreaty prove of no avail. When the battle of hotwords does not produce the desired effect, then the exorcist writes a charm ona piece of paper and burns it under the afflicted man's nose. Recourse is alsomade to certain other methods to force the jin to depart. Sometimes theafflicted person's hand is held in a firm grip by a strong man. He presses itas hard as he can till the patient starts crying out in agony and pain and appealsfor mercy. It is believed that the jin speaks through the patient's tongue. Theexorcist, therefore, asks it to leave and swear by Prophet Sulaiman (Solomon),who is believed to be the king of all genii, not to come again. Sometimes shortwooden sticks are put in between the patient's fingers and his hand is pressedhard. If this device also fails then the exorcist places a frying pan on thefire with some ghee (melted butter) in it and throws a charm in the boilingghee to make the jin flee or die.

    CHILLA: It is a common belief that a mancan obtain the services of genii by means of talismans or certain invocations.For this purpose he undergoes the rigours of a chilla for a period offorty days. Chilla is of two kinds ____ spiritual andtemporal. The spiritual chilla is practiced for the purification of thesoul whereas the temporal chilla aims at making wordily gains by meansof controlling genii. During the period when anybody is undergoing the arduoustask of chilla, he remains in a state of meditation, keeps himself alooffrom the people and chooses an un-inhabited or deserted place, forself-mortification. He follows his Pir's instructions both in letter andspirit. By sitting within a circle (`Hisar') drawn around himself he remainsvigilant and contents himself with little food and water barely able to sustainhim. There is the possibility of his becoming mad, if he moves out of thecircle contrary to his Pir's instructions or frightened out by the resistingjin. It is said that during the last few days of Chilla genii appearbefore the probationer in horribly hideous shapes to frighten and lure him outof the circle. If he, succeeds in completing the prescribed course withoutfalling a prey to the genii's insidious temptations, he gains control over themand the leader of the genii appears in person before the man for carrying outhis orders and all the genii, old and young alike, follow suit.

    CHARACTER: "The Pathan has beendubbed cruel, treacherous, miserly and, in fact, every epithet of an opprobriousnature has been showered on his devoted head at one time or another by men whowere either incapable of seeing things from the Pathan point of view, and ofmaking allowances for his short comings, or who were so hidebound by thehumanity mongering sentimentality, which passes today for the hall mark ofliberal mind that they shudderingly dismissed the Pathan from their thoughts(presumably with pious ejaculations) as an un-reclaimable savage".

    (The Hon. Arnold Keppel)

    The character of the Pukhtuns has always been afavourite theme of writers. The detractors of Pukhtuns have painted them in thedarkest colours by describing them as savages, brutes, uncouth, cruel andtreacherous, while the sympathetic writers have praised their manly bearing,open-heartedness and inherent dignity. To the latter set of historians they arenot as barbarous as depicted. Their otherwise black character is studded withmany noble virtues and their vices are the "Vices common to the whole ofthe community". Mr. Temple described them as noble savages "notwithout some tincture of virtue and generosity".

    The spirit of adventure and enterprise ischaracteristic of this hardy race of hillmen. They have their own sense ofdignity and would not submit to injustice or insult even at the risk of theirown life. The reason of blood feuds is not their vindictive nature or bloodthirstiness but a spirit of liberty and the will to uphold justice, defend theright and avenge the wrong. Pride of race, consciousness of natural rights andintolerance of injustice are the remarkable traits of the Pukhtun character."The pride", says H.W. Bellew, "of the Afghans is a markedfeature of their national character. They eternally boast of their descent,their prowess in arms and their independence and cap it all by "am I not aPukhtun"."

    Tall, muscular and healthy, Pukhtuns are fond ofsports and war alike. Edward E. Oliver's evidence of Pukhtun character is worthquoting. "He is", he says "undoubtedly brave to rashness, setsno value upon life, either his own or anyone else's. Trained from youth tofeats of strength, endowed with wonderful power of endurance, he commands theadmiration of most Englishmen".

    Summing up the character of Pukhtuns the HonMountstuart Elphinstone wrote, "they are fond of liberty, faithful totheir friends, kind to their dependents, hospitable, brave, hardy, frugal,laborious and prudent".

    STATUS OF WOMEN: Pukhtun women do not observe the customary purdah but they do wear Burqa while paying visits to cities or distant places beyond their locality. In their outdoor functions, they however, cover the face and body with a Chaddar (sheet) or Dopatta. Why the tribal women do not wear burqa or observe purda as invogue in urban areas, is easy to explain.

    Firstly the people of one stock bound together bycommon ties of flesh and blood dwell in villages. Secondly, the standard ofmorality is very high in Pukhtun society and cases of moral turpitude arealmost un-heard of. Moreover, the Pukhtuns are so jealous of the modesty andsanctity of their women that they cannot tolerate even appreciation of thebeauty or other attributes of their women by an outsider or stranger. Theyconsider such an admiration as an insult to their sense of honour. Immoralpractices, especially adultery, elopement, amorous advances, infidelity andillicit liaison between man and woman are put down with a heavy hand and deathis a normal penalty in such cases. The guilty pair is generally killed ifcaught flagrante delicto. It is because of such deterrent punishment that noone dare cast an evil eye on a Pukhtun woman without peril to his life.

    According to the Pukhtuns code of ethics,strangers refrain from loitering about un-necessarily when women set out forfetching water or bringing in grass or wood etc. They also desist from speakingto a woman and similarly it is considered indecent on the part of a woman totalk to a stranger except when she is in dire need of his help. "A womanor girl above ten years old", says Robert Warburton who served as PoliticalAgent in Khyber Agency for eighteen years "is never permitted to addressany male not connected with her by relationship. A stranger has always to beavoided, and if by any chance a woman comes across one in a narrow lane orroad, she generally covers up her face and stands with her back towards himuntil he has passed". It is also one of the etiquettes of the Pukhtuns tolower their eyes, gaze at the ground and step aside from the path when a womancomes across their way.

    Respect for women is also evident from the factthat she is not interfered with in case of tribal hostilities, blood feuds,village affrays or brawls. During the prosecution of feuds women are exemptfrom reprisals. It is considered below the dignity of a Pukhtun to fire atwomen and according to tribal customs they are at liberty to supply food, waterand ammunition to their men engaged in firing at a hill top or entrenchmentsoutside the village. "During the prosecution of feud," says L. WhiteKing, "it is generally understood that women and children under 12 areexempt from reprisals and are free to pursue their ordinary avocations withoutinterference." In this connection Merk remarks that "during the bloodfeuds it is the first aim of each party to gain possession of the water supplyof its opponents, and if it is under fire of the enemy, women who aretheoretically never fired at, have to undertake the dangerous task of bringingwater to the beleaguered garrison". In the words of Mountstuart Elphinston"no quarter is given to men in the wars, it is said that the Vizeereeswould even kill a male child that falls into their hands, but they never molestwomen, and if one of the sex wanders from her caravan, they treat her withkindness, and send guides to escort her to her tribe".

    Though some writers have described tribal womenas hewers of wood and drawers of water or only an `economic asset', they arenot socially as inferior as depicted. No doubt, they work hard but it is only adivision of labour between man and woman. Though the husband plays a dominantrole and the wife a subordinate one in a tribal society, this does not meanthat women do not enjoy any respect. They duly exercise authority and influencein their own spheres. As a daughter she is loved, as a wife respected and as amother venerated. There is a famous saying of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be UponHim) that heaven lies under the feet of mother, and Pukhtun hold his mother inhigh esteem. She has a great deal of say in her domestic affairs. She controlsthe household finances and wields an over-whelming influence over her sons,daughters and daughters-in-laws.

    Besides household work and superintendence ofchildren, the Pukhtun code of ethics enjoins upon women not to burst intolaughter in the presence of strangers or persons with whom they are not closelyrelated; not to address their husbands by name, nor to speak loudly, and avoidbeing heard beyond the four walls of the house. The wives were required in thepast to show the utmost regard for their husbands, remain in attendance whilethe husband was taking his meals and walk a few paces behind the husband whilehe went out of the house. There is a famous saying that there are two placeseminetly suited for a woman, oen is her own house and the other the grave. Butall this does not hold good any more. The status of woman has undergone aremarkable change during the past five decades, principally due to educationand economic prosperity. Thanks to the efforts of Pakistangovernment, big strides have been taken in the field of education. At presentmore than three thousand educational institutions are functioning in the lengthand breath of tribal areas with 2,42,862 students on roll. These include2,13,021 male and 29,841 female students. The spread of education has immenselybroadened their outlook. Women are no longer considered inferior and they enjoythe privilege of exerting their healthy and loving influence in domesticspheres.

    It may be recalled that there was a strongprejudice against female education, particularly in rural areas before thecreation of Pakistan.The conservative and orthodox sections of the society, felt shy of sendingtheir daughters to schools. It was considered disgraceful to send daughters outof doors, and there was a growing feeling that education other than religious,would have a baneful influence on the mind of the young girls. The parents wereapprehensive that female education would provide an opportunity to young girlsto write amatory letters to young men. But these prejudices against female educationno longer exist. Times have greatly changed after Independenceand a pleasant revolution has taken place in the ideas of the Pukhtuns aboutfemale education.

    Tribal women are hardy, industrious, devoted andtrust-worthy. They do the entire household work and also help their husbands inthe fields. They faithfully stand by their husbands both in weal and woe andresist every foul temptation. "Neither would I have it inferred from theanecdote" says Lt. Arthur Conolly, "that the Afghans ill treat theirwomen; on the contrary, they are both proud and fond of them. Those who dwellin the country have such confidence in their women that if they absentthemselves from their homes, they leave their wives in charge of theirestablishment and a married woman may without a shadow of scandal entertain atraveller who happens to arrive at her husband's tent during his absence".

    Toora (literally Sword, but means bravery)and Marrana (chivalry and courage) are considered essential traits of Pukhtuncharacter and women feel proud of husbands possessing such laudable attributes.They possess courage themselves and admire such qualities in others. Even intheir folk songs they exhort their lovers to display bravery and courage on thefield instead of running away like cowards. The following Pashto couplet andhundred others best illustrate their earnest desire that their near and dearones should perform acts of valour and heroism on the battlefield:


    May you come riddled with bullets,

    The news of your dishonour, cowardice

    may not reach my ears.

    Writing about the courage of Pukhtun women MrsStarr who served as a staff nurse in Mission Hospital for a number of yearssays, "the women are not a bit behind the men in pluck. I remember one,typical of many, who, though unable to move and unlikely to live owing to asevere bullet wound, invariably replied to any enquiry on my part, "I amwell; I am all right". See, she is an Afridi, said her man proudly." Pukhtunsgo to any length in defence of their women folk and their history is repletewith many daring examples. One such example was furnished by Ajab Khan Afridi,the hero of the famous Miss Ellis drama on the Frontier. In March 1923, theFrontier Constabulary, with the help of regular British troops, raided Ajab Khan'svillage in Dara Adam Khel. The troops with scant regard for the sanctity ofwomen, searched his house and according to certain reports women were subjectedto search and insult. This news beat across his mind like a thunder-bolt andAjab Khan's anger knew no bounds. Infuriated by the alleged insulting behaviourof the British troops, he vowed to wipe out the insult with insult and retrievehis honour by a similar action. He raided the enemy's houses and succeeded inlifting Miss Ellis from the heart of Kohat cantonment. He, however, treated thegirl honourably and released her after redemption of his honour.

    Pukhtun women wear simple dress. It consists of aPartoog (Trousers), Qamees (Shirt) and a Dupatta (chaddaror scarf). Old women prefer loose and baggy trousers, long shirts with widersleeves and coloured clothes. Fashionable clothes and footwear are now becomingpopular among the new generation owing to constant intermingling of thetribesmen with the inhabitants of cities. New dresses are becoming common, astribal girls are not averse to modern comforts and fashions. With the march oftime, old heavy silver ornaments have been discarded and replaced by modern anddelicate ones. Pukhtun women use a variety of jewellery such as pendants,bracelets and necklaces. The pendants include Paizwan, Nata or Natkai(large nose rings), Chargul, Peeta and Maikhakay (small noseornaments), Wallai, Jarmootey, Dewadi and Duroona (large earrings), and Teek worn on the forehead. The bracelets comprise of Wakhi,Bavoo, Karrey and Bangri or bangles. Haar and Taweezoonamay be mentioned among necklaces. Besides the use of silver ornaments called Sangley(Pazaib) worn round feet near ankle, Ogey or neclet, Zanzeeror chain and finger rings, are also in common use.

    The Paizwan is suspended below the nostriledge. Chargul and Nata are worn on the right side of the outerpart of the nose and Maikhakai and Peeta, comparatively smallerornaments, are worn on the left side of the nose. Haar and Taweezoonaconsist of three to five flat silver pieces about one and half inch squareeach, are worn over the breast. The Zanzeer, a silver ornament about teninches in length and imbedded with shining stones, is also suspended from theshirt collar on the breast.


  9. May I know about the History of Pakhtun

    By Azim Afridi

    Source: Monthly Dimplomat


    TRIBES: The famous Pukhtun tribes, tomention a few, are Yousafzais of Bajaur and Malakand Agencies, Afridis ofKhyber Agency, Kohat and Peshawar, Mohmands of Mohmand Agency, Orakzais ofOrakzai Agency, Turis and Bangash of Kurram Agency, Waziris of North WaziristanAgency, Mahsuds and Urmars of South Waziristan Agency, and Bhittanis andSheranis attached to Tank and D.I. Khan Districts . The Khattak tribe of thewell known warrior-poet Khushal Khan Khattak is also one of the well knowntribes of Peshawar and Kohatborder. There are other smaller tribe such as Shinwaris, Mohammad Zai,Mullagoris, Shilmanis, Safis, Zaimukht, Muqbil, Mangal, Zadran, Para Chamkani,Kharoti, Jadoon and Daur etc.


    ETHNOLOGY: Different hypotheses have beensuggested about the origin of the Pukhtuns. Khawaja Niamatullah describes themas descendants of Jews, connecting them with the lost ten tribes of Israel.This theory of the Semitic origin of the Pukhtuns has been supported by some Pukhtunwriters, including Hafiz Rahmat Khan, Afzal Khan Khattak and Qazi AttaullahKhan. A number of orientalists like H.W. Bellew, Sir William Jones and MajorRaverty have also subscribed to this view on the basis of Pukhtun physiogonomy,and the striking resemblance of facial features between Pukhtuns and Jews. Theybelieve that the prevalence of biblical names, certain customs andsuperstitions, especially smearing of the door post and walls of the house withblood of sacrificial animals, further substantiates this theory. But thesepresumptions do not hold good in view of the fact that resemblance in featuresand certain characteristics do not provide a scientific criterion for theethnology of a race or a section of people. This can equally be said about theKashmiris and certain other tribes who can hardly be distinguished from Pukhtunsin physique, colour and complexion. Similarly a scrutiny of the socialinstitutions of the Arabs of the Middle Ages and present day Pukhtuns wouldlead one to believe that Pukhtuns are not different from them in their socialorganisation.

    Syed Bahadur Shah Zafar Kaka Khel in his wellwritten book "PUKHTANA" and Sir Olaf Caroe in his book "ThePathans" place little reliance on Niamatullah's theory of the Semiticorigin of the Pukhtuns and say that his account of the Pukhtuns suffers fromhistorical inaccuracies. To disprove the assertion that the Pukhtun tribes hadembraced Islam en-bloc after the return of Qais Abdul Rashid from Medina,the accounts of Al-Beruni and Al-Utbi, the contemporary historians of Mahmud ofGhazna, establish "that four centuries later than the time of Qais the Province of Kabul had not been Islamized andthis was achieved under the Ghaznavides. The Hindu Shahiya Kingdom of Jaipalextended almost to Kabul, Mahmudhad to fight against infidel Afghans of the Sulaiman mountains". EvenPrithvi Raj had a cavalry of Afghans in the battle of Tarian against MohammadGhori. Other writers, after a careful examination of the physical anthropologyof the Pukhtuns say that difference in features of the various Pukhtuns pointto the fact that they must have "mingled with races who passed throughtheir territory to conquer Hindustan".

    Khawaja Niamatullah's theory has further been putto a serious test by prominent linguists who maintain that Pushto bears noresemblance to Hebrew or other Aramaic languages and the Pukhtuns' language,Pashto, belongs to the family of the Eastern group of Iranian languages. Mr.Ahmad Ali Kohzad and some other Afghan historians, lending support to the Aryanorigin of the Pukhtuns, say that the Pakhat of the Rig Veda are the Pukhtuns oftoday. It is a fact that the North West Frontier of Pakistan has, perhaps beeninvolved with more foreign invasions in the course of history than any othercountry of Asia. Each horde seems to have left its markon the Pukhtuns who absorbed the traits of invading forces, "predominantlyof Turks, Iranians and Mongols".

    According to Khawaja Niamatullah the Pukhtunsembraced Islam in the first quarter of the 7th century when the Holy Prophet(Peace be upon him) sent his emissaries in all directions to invite the peopleto the fold of Islam. One such messenger is stated to have been sent to QaisAbdur Rashid, who is claimed to be the ancestor of the Pukhtuns, through Khalidbin Walid. In response to Khalid's invitation, Qais hurried to the Holy land and as a result of the sublime teachings of the Holy Prophet(Peace be upon him) embraced Islam in Medina.After his return to Ghore, his whole tribe followed him in the Muslim faith.But due to weak evidence, missing links and wide gaps this theory has arousedsuspicion in the minds of scholars.

    If the origin of a race can be determined on thebasis of customs and traditions then Pukhtun would be closer to Arabs. Thestudy of Arabian and Pukhtun society presents a remarkable resemblanceparticularly in their tribal organisation and social usages. Both possess thesame virtues and characteristics. To both hospitality is one of the finestvirtues, retribution a sacred duty and bravery an essential pre-requisite foran honourable life. Love of independence, courage, endurance, hospitality andrevenge were the supreme virtues of pre-Islamic Arabs. These very attributesalso form the basis of the Pukhtun code of honour and anyone who repudiatesthem is looked down by the society. A Pukhtun is nearer to an Arab in histribal organisation. Like an Arab tent, every Pukhtun's house represents afamily, an encampment of Arab tents forms a hay and a cluster of a few housesconstitute a village in tribal areas. Members of one hay form a clan in Arabiaand a Khel (which is an Arabic word meaning association or company) is thebasis of the Pukhtun's tribal organisation. A number of kindred clans groupedtogether make a qabila in Arabia and a tribe in the Pukhtunborderland. Even the Pashto script resembles the Arabic script in essence. TheArabs held in great esteem four moral virtues, viz Ziyafah or hospitalityhamasah or fortitude, muruah or manliness and courage and ird or honour.

    The Pathans are brave, courageous, hospitable andgenerous and these attributes are considered as pillars of the Pukhtun code ofhonour or Pukhtunwali. The Pathans like the Arabs also believe in fire andsword for all their adversaries. This was the reason that they fought tooth andnail against the non-Muslim rulers of the sub-continent whether Sikhs orFeringi as the Britishers were called.

    The position of a tribal Malik who plays animportant role in tribal politics is similar to that of an Arabian Sheikh. Thequalifications of a tribal Malik, such as seniority in age, qualities of headand heart and character as courage, wisdom and sagacity etc. are not differentfrom an Arab Sheikh. Like a Sheikh, a tribal Malik follows the consensus ofopinion. He is required to consult the heads of the families or village councilwhile making any decision with regard to future relations with a village ortribe. Darun Nadwa was the centre of activity of the pre-Islamic Arabs and the Pukhtuns'Hujra is also not different from it in its functions. All matters relating towar, peace, future relations with neighbouring tribes and day to day problemsused to be discussed in Darun Nadwa. Similarly, all tribal affairs connectedwith the tribe are discussed in the Hujra.

    Hospitality is one of the sublime features of thePukhtuns and pre-Islamic Arabs were also renowned for their hospitality and foraffording asylum to strangers. They would share the last crumb of their breadwith a guest and protect him from all harm so long as he was under their roof.Similarly, Pukhtuns regard hospitality as a "sacred duty and safety of theguest as inviolable". It is a serious violation of their established normsto hurt a man who enters their village as a guest. In the pre-independence daysthey provided asylum to all and sundry, including the proclaimed offenderswanted by the British Government in cases of a criminal nature in the settleddistricts. Similarly the Arabs the right of asylum considered sacred and wasrigidly respected regardless of the crime of the refugee.

    The spirit of revenge of the Pukhtuns is notdifferent from that of the Arabs. Blood according to the law of the desertcalled for blood and no chastisement could satisfy an Arab other than wreakingvengeance on his enemy. Similarly, the hills of the Pukhtun highlanders vibratewith echoes of retribution till the insult is avenged. As a matter of fact, thesociety of both the Arabs and the Pukhtuns is inspired by a strong feeling ofmuruwwa, virility or a quality to defend one's honour (ird). There are severalanecdotes of revenge resulting in long blood feuds for generations. The Basuswar between Banu Bakr and Banu Taghlib in Arabia lastedfor about 40 years whereas tribal disputes between Gar and Samil factions ofthe Pukhtuns continued for decades. Pukhtuns like Arabs are conscious of theirracial superiority. An Arab would boast of being a Quraish and a Pukhtun wouldassert his superiority by saying, Am I not a Pukhtun"?

    The customs regarding giving protection to weakerneighbours is also common between Arabs and Pukhtuns. A weaker tribe in Arabiawould seek the protection of a powerful tribe by means of Khuwah and a weaker Pukhtuntribe would ensure its security by offering "Lokhay" to its strongneighbouring tribe. The custom of "Lokhay Warkawal" is stillprevalent among Afridi and Orakzai tribes of Tirah. A similarity can also befound in their customs relating to birth, marriage and death etc. Certainsuperstitions are also common between the Arabs and the Pukhtuns. Both believein all kinds of invisible beings, wear amulets as a safeguard against the evileye and believe in sooth sayers and fortune tellers.


    When Sindh and Multanwere conquered by the Muslim army under the inspiring leadership of the youngGeneral Mohammad bin Qasim, in 711 A.D. this part of the South AsianSub-Continent was still ruled by a Hindu Shahi dynasty. Subaktagin was thefirst Muslim ruler who crossed swords with Jaipal, a powerful ruler of theHindu Shahi dynasty in 997. Later, the Muslims under the command of hisillustrious son Mahmud of Ghazna invaded the sub-continent as many as seventeentimes and fought fierce battles against Jaipal, his son Anandpal and otherHindu rulers and Rajas of Northern India. He was followed by Shahabud DinMohammad Ghori, Qutb-ud-Din Aibak and other sultans and finally the greatMughals who ruled the sub-continent for centuries. Things, however, began tochange after the death of Aurangzeb Alamgir, the last powerful ruler of theMughal dynasty. The internal disputes, court intrigues and feuds of rivalfactions weakened the Mughal Central Government and the centrifugal tendenciesof the Mughal Governors sounded the death knell of the mighty Mughal Empire.

    The way was thus paved for the rise of RanjitSingh, who eventually extended his military sway from Lahoreupto the foothills of Khyber in the first quarter of the 19th century. The Sikhadvance was, however, checked by the tribesmen who did not allow them toencroach upon their independence. The Pukhtuns fought several battles againstthem and finally measured their strength of arms with the militant Sikhs in abattle fought within the environs of Jamrud in 1837. In this pitched battle theSikhs sustained heavy casualties. It was here that their famous General HariSingh Nalwa, was killed.

    Twelve years later the superior and disciplinedforces of the British defeated the Sikhs in successive battles and annexed thewhole of the territory beyond the Indus river and ruledover the North West Frontier for about a century.

    The Pukhtuns resisted violently all attempts bythe British to subjugate or turn them into docile and obedient members of anenslaved community. They offered stubborn resistance to the British forces andInspite of their meager means and resources, the Pukhtuns carried on anun-ending war against them for the preservation of their liberty. The British,proud of their glory and might, sent about one hundred expeditions one afterthe other against the Pukhtuns to subdue them by force but they did not yieldto the enemy's military might. According to Col. H.C. Wylly 62 militaryexpeditions were despatched against the tribesmen between 1849-1908, besidesevery day small skirmishes. These included the famous Ambela campaign 1863, theBlack Mountainexpedition 1868, the Miranzai expedition 1891, the Hassanzai expedition 1894,the Dir and Chitral expedition 1895, the Tirah campaign 1897, and theMahsud-Waziri expeditions 1897. As a result of this aggressive policy the wholefrontier, from Malakand to Waziristan, flared up inrevolt against the British in 1897.

    The frontier rising of 1897 engaged about 98000trained and well equipped British Indian forces in a grim struggle. Accordingto Col. H.D. Hutchison, the approximate strength of the Tirah expeditionaryforce alone was "1010 British Officers, 10,882 British troops, 491 nativeofficers, 22,123 native troops, 197 hospital Assistants, 179 clerks, 19,558followers, 8000 horses, 18,384 mules and ponies and 1440 hospital riding ponies".But to these figures, he says, "must be added an enormous number ofcamels, carts, ponies etc working on the long line of communication with Kohatand gradually brought into use as needs increased and the roads wereimproved". The British forces suffered 1150 casualties during the Tirahexpedition. Similar was the fate of other expeditions as well. The operationsagainst Mohmand in 1915-16, and Wazirs and Mahsuds between 1917-1920 and 1936Waziri campaign also deserves special mention. In 1917 an arduous campaign wasundertaken against the Mahsuds and an aeroplane was made use of for the firsttime in Waziristan. In 1936 the dales and mountains of Waziristanresounded with the echoes of Jehad. The main cause of the war was the marriageof Islam Bibi (a Hindu Girl of Bannu who was named Islam Bibi after conversionto Islam) with a Muslim. She was later on returned to her parents in accordancewith the decision of the British law court. The Government sent over 30,000well equipped army to curb the activities of the tribal lashkars in Waziristanbut it met with no or little success. "By December 1937", says AuthurSwinson, "when the 40,000 British and Indian troops pulled back onPeshawar, the situation was no better than it had been in January, and in 1938more fighting was to ensue." The expenditure on the Frontier war and"the burden on the Indian tax payer was enormous and between 1924 and 1939it totalled 11,2000,000 pounds". But the long range heavy guns and airbombardment did not dishearten the tribesmen and they continued theirintermittent struggle against an imperialist power till the dawn of Independence."Throughout the hundred and odd years of the British rule over the NorthWest Frontier, Waziristan was always one of the most heavily garrisoned areasanywhere in the world. Seething with political unrest and ceaseless guerillawarfare, this was the testing place - the crucible of valour and efficiency forgenerations of British soldiers, statesmen and civil servants". TheBritish invariably deputed their ablest military and civil officers to serve inthese areas which had become the best training ground for the British soldiers.In fact, the British soldiers had never before experienced such tough andarduous life as on the Frontier. This is well reflected from a stanza of Mr.Kipling's "Frontier Arithmetic"

    "A scrimmage in a Border Station

    A center down some dark defile,

    Two thousand pounds of education

    Drops to a ten rupee Jezail".


    The Pukhtuns are chiefly employed in agriculturebut their agricultural pursuits are limited owing to the lack of culturableland. The patches of cultivable land in hilly tracts and some open valleys donot produce sufficient food-grains to meet their food requirements. In additionto tilling the available land, tribesmen tend cattle, including herds of goatsand sheep, camels and cows.

    If, on the one hand, the tribesmen wereeconomically dependent on the British, on the other, all kinds of trade intribal areas had been monopolized by Hindus and Sikhs. They had opened shops inthe centrally located places and big villages and every tribesman was theircustomer. A large number of tribesmen would go to Bombayin search of employment while others would join the Border Military Police(later called the Frontier Constabulary) and the army. Certain sections of thetribesmen would sell firewood and timber to the people of the cities, whileothers took up some other petty trade. But among the tribesmen, the Adam KhelAfridis of the Kohat Passhad a flare for trade. They were traders and carriers of salt at the time ofthe advent of the British in the frontier. They used to carry salt from themines of Kohat District to Swat, Bajaur and other parts of the NWFP.

    They also engaged themselves in a thriving and lucrativearms trade and later started manufacturing fire-arms in their factories. Othertribesmen emulated their example and set up arms factories at Illam Gudar(Khyber Agency), Nawagai (Bajaur Agency) and Kaniguram (South WaziristanAgency). The Adam Khel Afridis of the Kohat Pass showed the most extraordinaryingenuity in devising, making and installing different kinds of indigenousmachines for turning out various component parts of rifles. In the beginning ofthe 20th century there were about half a dozen workshops in Darra but laterthis industry rapidly expanded to every glen and village. They were also famousgun runners and carried on arms trade with the Persian Gulfcountries. In this way they supplemented the arms pile of the tribesmen andfurnished them with the latest weapons at reasonable rates. At present the AdamKhel Afridis are producing such fine specimen of revolvers, pistols and rifleswith their crude implements that they can hardly be distinguished from those ofEuropean-make. It can be confidently said that nowhere in the world has asimilar feat been performed by un-educated men with no training or experienceof mass production methods. The arms manufacturing industry was the main sourceof the Afridis' income during the British rule.



  10. Pashtu Language

    Pushto ProfileAlternate Names:

    Pashto, Pukhto

    Afghani (in older texts)


    Number of Speakers:

    Approximately 17 million


    Key Dialects:

    Eastern, Western

    Central, Southern


    Geographical Center:

    Northeastern Afghanistan

    Northwest Frontier Province, Pakistan



    Taught in very few universities inthe

    United States and Canada





    Pushto is one of the national languages of Afghanistan(Dari Persian is the other), and the home language of Pushtuns living in theNorthwest Frontier Province of Pakistan, and many Pushtuns living in Baluchistan(Iran and Pakistan).Major Pushto speaking cities in Afghanistanare Kandahar (Qandahar),Kabul; and Peshawarin Pakistan.There are 8 million speakers of Pushto in Afghanistan(50% of the population) and almost 9 million in Pakistan(13% of the population).




    Pushto is one of the East Iranian group of languages, which includes, forexample, Ossete (North Ossetian, south Ossetian, Caucusus Soviet Socialist Republic) and Yaghnobi (Tajikistan).


    East Iranian and West Iranian (which includes Persian) are major sub-groups ofthe Iranian group of the Indo Iranian branch of the Indo European family of languages.Indo-Iranian languages are spoken in a wide area stretching from portions ofeastern Turkeyand eastern Iraqto western India(see Crystal 1987 and Payne 1987). The other main division of Indo- Iranian, inaddition to Iranian, is the Indo-Aryan languages, a group comprised of manylanguages of the Indian subcontinent including Sanskrit, Hindi/Urdu, Bengali,Gujerati, Panjabi, and Sindhi.




    There are two major dialects of Pashto: Western Pashto spoken in Afghanistanand in the capital, Kabul, andEastern Pashto spoken in northeastern Pakistan.Most speakers of Pashto speak these two dialects. Two other dialects are alsodistinguished: Southern Pashto, spoken in Baluchistan(western Pakistanand eastern Iran)and in Kandahar, Afghanistan;Central Pashto spoken in northern Pakistan(Wazirstan).


    The variation in spelling of the language's name (Pashto, Pukhto, etc.) stemsfrom the different pronunciations in the various dialects of the secondconsonant in the word; for example, it is a retroflex [sh] in the Kandaharidialect, and a palatal fricative in the Kabuli dialect. The major dialectdivisions themselves have numerous variants. In general, however, one speakerof Pashto readily understands another. The Central and Southern dialects aremore divergent. The Kandahari dialect is reflected in the spelling system, andis considered by some to be the "standard" for that reason.




    Pushto has been written in a variant of the Persian script (which in turn is avariant of Arabic script) since the late sixteenth century. Certain letterswere modified to account for sounds specific to Pushto. Until the spellingsystem was standardized in the late eighteenth century, the representation ofthese consonants varied greatly. The Pushto alphabet, which has more vowelsounds than either Persian or Arabic, represents the vowels more extensivelythan either the Persian or the Arabic alphabets.

    With the adoption of Pushto as a national language of Afghanistan,some revisions of the spelling system have been made in the interest ofclarity. In Pakistan,the classical spelling standard is not always followed. There is a tendency tosubstitute the Urdu forms of letters.




    Pushto has a seven vowel system. There are retroflex consonants soundspronounced with the tongue tip curled back--which were presumably borrowed fromnearby Indo-Aryan languages. Unlike other Iranian languages, such as Persian,Pushto allows consonant clusters of two or three sounds at the beginning of asyllable.


    Pushto distinguishes two grammatical genders as well as singular and plural.There are generally two nominal cases in Pushto, although the vocative case isstill used with singular nouns. Case is marked both with suffixes and withchanges in the vowel of the noun stem and stress. Verbs agree with theirsubjects in person, number, and grammatical gender as well as being marked fortense/aspect. Past tense transitive sentences are formed as ergatives: inthese, the object rather than the subject agrees with the verb, and weakpronoun objects rather than subjects are omitted if they are not emphatic.


    Word order, which is very rigid, is subject-object-verb.


    A high number of words in Pakistani Pushto are borrowed from Urdu, which is tobe expected given that the majority of Pashtuns in the Northwest FrontierProvince of Pakistan speak at least some Urdu. As the language of an Islamicpeople, Pushto also contains a high number of borrowings from Arabic; amongeducated speakers, the Arabic plurals of borrowed nouns are frequentlymaintained.




    In Afghanistan, Pushto is second in prestige to Dari, the Persian dialectspoken natively in the north and west. Because of the political power of thePushtuns, however, Pushto has been a required subject in Dari medium schools,and as an official language has been one of the languages of the government.For practical purposes, however, Dari is the language of business and highereducation, and so Pushtuns learn Dari. Very few Dari speakers have a good commandof Pushto. In Pakistan,Pushto has no official status; it is not taught in schools and Pushtun childrenlearn Urdu as their language of education and activities outside the home.


    Pushto has an extensive written tradition. There are a number of classicPushtun poets, most notably Khosal Khan Khattak. Modern Pushtun writtenliterature has adapted those modern western literary forms, like the shortstory, that match forms from traditional Pushto oral literature. Pushtun folkliterature is the most extensively developed in the region. Besides stories setto music, Pushtun has thousands of two and four line folk poems, traditionallycomposed by women. These reflect the day to day life and views of Pushtunwomen.




    The first written records of Pushto are believed to date from the sixteenthcentury and consist of an account of Shekh Mali'sconquest of Swat. In the seventeenth century, Khushhal Khan Khatak, consideredthe national poet of Afghanistan,was writing in Pushto. In this century, there has been a rapid expansion ofwriting in journalism and other modern genres which has forced innovation ofthe language and the creation of many new words.


    Traces of the history of Pushto are present in its vocabulary. While themajority of words can be traced to Pushto's roots as member of the EasternIranian language branch, it has also borrowed words from adjacent languages forover two thousand years. The oldest borrowed words are from Greek, and datefrom the Greek occupation of Bactriain third century BC. There are also a few traces of contact with Zoroastriansand Buddhists. Starting in the Islamic period, Pushto borrowed many words fromArabic and Persian. Due to its close geographic proximity to languages of theIndian sub-continent, Pushto has borrowed words from Indian languages forcenturies.


    Pushto has long been recognized as an important language in Afghanistanand Pakistan.Classical Pushto was the object of study by British soldiers and administratorsin the nineteenth century and the classical grammar in use today dates fromthat period.


    In 1936, Pushto was made the national language of Afghanistanby royal decree. Today, Dari Persian and Pushto both are official nationallanguages.



  11. Which are Federally Administered Tribal Areas?

    FATA includes:

    BajaurAgency, Orakzai Agency, Mohmand Agency, Khyber Agency, Kurram Agency, NorthWaziristan Agency and South Waziristan Agency

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