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(pətänz`), group of seminomadic peoples consisting of more than 60 tribes, numbering more than 26 million in Pakistan and more than 11 million in Afghanistan, where they form the dominate ethnic group (historically known as Afghans and now typically as Pashtuns). Pathans are Muslims and speak Pashto (or Pushtu). They are also known as Pashtuns, Pushtuns, Pakhtuns, and Pakhtoons.

Historically, Pathans have been noted as fierce fighters, and throughout history they have offered strong resistance to invaders. The British attempted to subdue the Pathans in a series of punitive expeditions in the late 19th and early 20th cent. but were finally forced to offer them a semiautonomous area (see Khyber PakhtunkhwaKhyber Pakhtunkhwa,
formerly North-West Frontier Province,
province and historic region (2017 provisional pop. 35,525,047), c.51,510 sq mi (133,410 sq km), NW Pakistan, bounded on the N and W by Afghanistan. Peshawar is the capital.
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) between the border of British India and that of Afghanistan.

After the creation of Pakistan in 1947, the new nation annexed the Pathan border regions, and a Pathan independence movement, called the Redshirts, was born. In the early 1950s, Afghanistan supported Pathan ambitions for the creation of an independent Pushtunistan (also called Pakhtunistan or Pakhtoonistan) in the border areas of West Pakistan. Several border clashes and ruptures of diplomatic relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan ensued. In the early 1970s thousands of armed Pathans pressed for increased autonomy within Pakistan, even demanding independence after the secession of Bangladesh (East Pakistan). The TalibanTaliban
or Taleban
, Islamic fundamentalist militia of Afghanistan and later Pakistan, originally consisting mainly of Sunni Pashtun religious students from Afghanistan who were educated and trained in Pakistan.
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 of Afghanistan, and more recently, the so-called Pakistani Taliban are mainly Pathan-based movements. Many Pakistani Pathans no longer live in the regions bordering Afghanistan; there are sizable Pathan populations in Pakistan's major cities, especially in Karachi.


See O. K. Caroe, The Pathans, 550 B.C.–A.D. 1957 (1958, repr. 1965); J. W. Spain, People of the Khyber (1963), The Pathan Borderland (1963), and The Way of the Pathans (2d ed. 1973).

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References in periodicals archive ?
Cricket Academy of Pathans (CAP) has tied up with UK based Cricket technology partner- Pitch Vision to track students' performance in real time via a cutting-edge technology program.
'The Pathan Unarmed' revolves around the Khudai Khidmatgar or Servants of God Movement.
The ceremony was attended by a large number of people belonging to Pathan community, notables and journalists.
Tribal representation was sent to the District Commissioner, by the Pathans, to lodge their resentment over not having been granted the award.
The Mohajir boy and Pathan "Juliet" eloped in February and were married.
The rally was led by Raaz Khan Pathan and Amanullah Khan Pathan.
New Delhi [India], May 11 ( ANI ): The Cricket Academy of Pathans launched its first centre in the national capital, in the presence of Indian all-rounder Yusuf Pathan and Managing Director (CAP) Harmeet Vasdev, here at Vidhya Bharati School in Rohini.
Mr Durrani said at a welcome camp of All Sindhi Pathan Youth at Hala Naka here on Saturday that PTI had no impact in Sindh because the party's leaders abused the parliament and in so doing they abused the very voters whose votes created that institution.
Several years ago, more than 1,000 people died in riots between Pathans and Muhajirs living in Karachi.
Speaking on the occasion, Sardar Aamir Khan Pathan has said that Pathan have played their pivotal role to improve the socio-economic condition of Pakistan, but who are deprived from their basic fundamental rights in this connection it is time to form a new platform for welfare of the Pathans' in Pakistan so that they could take relief through platform, he added.
New Delhi [India], August 10 ( ANI ): Indian all-rounder Irfan Pathan, who has been providing budding cricketers with guidance and training at the Cricket Academy of Pathans (CAP) along with his elder brother Yusuf, feels there is a need for proper training of coaches so that the aspiring players are groomed in a proper way and provided with all the technicalities of the sport.
Pathans originate in Pakistan's northwest Frontier Province, a rugged region inhabited by fiercely independent and very conservative tribesmen who seldom let women out of the home.