Pashtoon


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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Pashtoon

 

(also Pashtun). (1) The ethnic designation of the Afghans living outside Afghanistan, mainly on adjacent Pakistani territory; formerly known as Pathans. In all, the Pashtoon number about 8 million (1971, estimate). Most speak dialects of northeastern Pashto, with the rest speaking dialects of southwestern Pashto. The majority are Sunnite Muslims.

The Pashtoon have retained their division into tribes and tribal subdivisions called khels. The most important tribes in the region of the Khyber Pass are the Afridis, Mohmand, and Drakzai. The Yusufzai, who live north of Peshawar, are the largest group of tribes, numbering some 2 million persons. The Kattak and Wazir live south and west of Peshawar, and the Kakar inhabit North Baluchistan. The affairs of the tribe or khel are decided by a jirga (council of elders) according to customary (adat) law. Women do not have equal rights. The clergy and tribal elite (khans and maliks) have considerable authority. Capitalist relations are also developing. The chief occupations of the Pashtoon are land cultivation and transhumance farming. The rural proletariat represents a significant group. Many Pashtoon are in the administrative apparatus and army. The Pashtoon have a rich folklore and a great variety of dances and songs, and a literature is developing in Pashto.

Until the 20th century, the history of the Pashtoon was inseparably linked to that of the Afghans. In the mid-19th century, the Pashtoon began offering stubborn resistance to the colonial encroachments of Great Britain. In 1893, Pashtoon lands south and southeast of the Durand Line were made part of the British colony of India. The anti-imperialist movement of the Pashtoon became part of the national liberation struggle of the peoples of colonial India. When India was partitioned in 1947, the Pashtoon regions became part of Pakistan. The Pakistani constitution of 1973 gave fairly broad autonomy to the Northwest Frontier Province, which is inhabited by the Pashtoon.

(2) The self-designation of the Afghans.

REFERENCES

Narody Iuzhnoi Azii. Moscow, 1963. Pages 731–53.
Gankovskii, Iu. V. Narody Pakistana. Moscow, 1964.

M. G. ASLANOV

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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