Pashtun: Meaning, Tribes, Culture, Sports


This blog is on Pashtun: Meaning, Tribes, Culture, Sports.

Eastern Iranian ethnic group the Pashtuns, also known as Pakhtuns or Pathans, are mainly found in southern and eastern Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan. They were also known as Afghans in the past.


The largest segmentary lineage society and the 26th-largest ethnic group in the world, Pashtuns comprise 350–400 tribes and clans with numerous origin myths. Around 53 million Pashtun people live throughout the world, according to estimates. They are Pakistan’s second-largest ethnic group and the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan They constitutes around 43 percent of the total Afghan population and around 19 percent of the total Pakistani population.

Throughout Afghanistan and Pakistan, Pashtuns can be found, but they are most prevalent in the areas south of the Hindu Kush, along the Indus River, or near the Sulaiman Mountains. Jalalabad, Kandahar, Khost, Kohat, Lashkar Gah, Mardan, Mingora, Peshawar, Quetta, and other major cities have a majority of Pashtuns. The largest Pashtun population is located in Karachi, Pakistan. In India, Pashtuns are frequently referred to as Pathans (the Hindustani word for Pashtun), both by other ethnic groups of the subcontinent and by themselves.Pashtuns have historically settled in a number of Indian cities, both before and during the British Raj in colonial India.

After the Rohilla community of Pashtun ancestry, Uttar Pradesh’s Rohilkhand region bears their name. Additionally, they reside in the eastern state of West Bengal and the central states of Maharashtra, both of which have over a million residents who are of Pashtun descent. The Pashtuns of today are a diverse group of dispersed communities found all over India, with the majority of them residing in the plains of northern and central India.Many of them moved to Pakistan in the years after 1947’s partition of India. Communities that speak Urdu are the majority of Indian Pashtuns.

Historical Past

In smaller numbers, Pashtuns can also be found in Iran’s northern and eastern regions. Durrani Pashtuns are said to have lived in Safavid Iran’s Khorasan Province as early as the mid-1600s. Hussain Hotak, the final independent Ghilji ruler of Kandahar, was overthrown by Nader Shah following the brief rule of the Ghilji Pashtuns in Iran. Hussain Hotak and a sizable portion of the Ghilji Pashtuns were deported to the Mazandaran Province in northern Iran by Nader Shah in order to establish Durrani control in southern Afghanistan.

The Abdali tribe’s Ahmad Shah Durrani, who is now referred to as the “Durrani” in his honour, founded the Durrani Empire in 1747, with Kandahar serving as its capital. The name of Ahmad Shah’s tribe, the Abdali, was changed to “Durrani” in his honour, and he took the moniker Durr-e Durrn (literally, “pearl of pearls” or “pearl of the age Today, Afghanistan’s modern state is credited with having been founded by Ahmad Shah. From Kashmir and Delhi in the east to Khorasan in the west, and from the Amu Darya in the north to the Arabian Sea in the south, were all under his control. In terms of size, it was only surpassed by the Ottoman Empire as the second-largest Muslim empire in the second half of the 18th century. The British/Commonwealth connections of India and Pakistan have been used by Pashtuns, and modern communities have been established since the 1960s, primarily in the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia but also in other commonwealth countries (and the United States). In the Middle East, particularly in the Arabian Peninsula, some Pashtuns have also made their homes.


The complex system of tribes is a notable institution of the Pashtun people. The Sarbani, Bettani, Gharghashti, and Karlani tribes make up one of four ‘greater’ tribal groups that make up the tribal system, which is organised on several levels. Following this, the tribe is split up into kinship groups called khels, which are then split up into smaller groups (pllarina or plarganey), each of which consists of several extended families called kahols. Around two-thirds of Afghan Pashtuns are members of the Durranis and Ghiljis (or Ghilzais), the two largest Pashtun confederacies. The Ghiljis are more numerous, more rural, and rumoured to be tougher, whereas the Durrani tribe has been more urban and politically successful. The groups occasionally and occasionally worked together in the 18th century.


The Pashtun culture is founded on Pashtunwali, Islam, and a knowledge of the Pashto language. To make the current Pashto alphabet uniform, Kabul dialect is used. Since ancient times, poetry has played a significant role in Pashtun culture. The term Pashtunwali (Pashto: ) refers to an ancient self-governing tribal structure that controls almost every aspect of Pashtun life, from the communal to the individual. The Hanafi school of thought is practised by the vast majority of Pashtuns, who are Sunni Muslims. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Paktia both have small Shia communities.

Sports And Modern Era

Pashtun players can be found on the national cricket teams of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Cricket, which was introduced to South Asia by the British in the early 18th century, is one of the most well-liked sports among Pashtuns. Many Pashtuns, including Imran Khan, Shahid Afridi, Majid Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Younis Khan, and others, have achieved success in the game of cricket internationally. Umar Gul, Junaid Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Rizwan, Usman Shinwari, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Afridi, Iftikhar Ahmed, and others. One of the most popular sports among Pashtuns is football (soccer). Muhammad Essa, a Pashtun, is the former captain and current assistant coach of the Pakistani national football team. In addition to these, polo, hockey, volleyball, handball and basketball may also be popular among Pashtuns.

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