September 16, 2015

Definition

Pash·tun

Pronunciation: pəSHˈto͞on/
Alternative names: noun: Pashtun; plural noun: Pashtuns; noun: Pakhtun; plural noun: Pakhtuns
Origin from Pashto paštūn.

A member of a Pashto-speaking people inhabiting southern Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan.

Ethnic definition

The ethno-linguistic definition is the most prominent and accepted view as to who is and is not a Pashtun. Generally, this most common view holds that Pashtuns are defined within the parameters of having mainly eastern Iranian ethnic origins, sharing a common language, culture and history, living in relatively close geographic proximity to each other, and acknowledging each other as kinsmen. Thus, tribes that speak disparate yet mutually intelligible dialects of Pashto acknowledge each other as ethnic Pashtuns and even subscribe to certain dialects as “proper”, such as the Pukhto spoken by the Yousafzais in Peshawar and the Pashto spoken by the Durranis in Kandahar. These criteria tend to be used by most Pashtuns in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Cultural definition

The religious and cultural definition requires Pashtuns to be Muslim and adhere to Pashtunwali codes. This is the most prevalent view among orthodox and conservative tribesmen, who refuse to recognise any non-Muslim as a Pashtun. Pashtun intellectuals and academics, however, tend to be more flexible and sometimes define who is Pashtun based on other criteria. Pashtun society is not homogenous by religion: the overwhelming majority of them are Sunni, with a tiny Shia community (the Turi and partially the Bangash tribe) in the Kurram and Orakzai agencies of FATA, Pakistan. Pakistani Jews and Afghan Jews, have largely relocated to Israel and the United States.