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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 (1998 pop. 17,554,674), c.41,000 sq mi (106,200 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).

References in periodicals archive ?
Cricket Academy Of Pathans is a self- funded effort launched by Irfan and Yusuf Pathan in September 2014 for underprivileged children, who show a flair for the game.
Of all the groups, there is more convincing evidence about the Pathans than anybody else, but the Pathans are the ones who would reject Israel most ferociously.
The Americans and the Saudis were engaged at that time in bolstering these Pathans with money and weapons to fight the Red Army.
Pakistan was triply furious - at the sanctions, at Washington's convenient hypocrisy and the fact it was left to cope with the aftermath of the war, not least the radicalizing and rise of the Taleban among the Pathans of Afghanistan, the Pathans in its refugee camps and the Pathans in its own border lands.
CRICKET: Power hitting from the Pathan siblings - Yusuf and Irfan - helped India to a thrilling three-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the one-off Twenty20 clash in Colombo.
The red brick sandstone of the Anglican churches has not weathered well and look more like 16th Century construction rather than that of the late 19% The walls of these churches are double: the second layer is made up of plaques, not only honouring the battalions and men who fell to the gallant Pathans, but also the births and wives of those soldiers.
THE British always had a love-hate relationship with the Pathans, who make up about 40 per cent of the population of Afghanistan.
By lumping, however implicitly, the study of Pathans, the vast majority of whom reside in North India, into the anthropology of Pashtuns and Afghanistan, and by extension the anthropology of either or both the Middle East and Central Asia, Eickelman demonstrates the important fact of these regions' cultural and historical connections to South Asia.
There are Pathans everywhere and they have put death threats on us both.
Police fear the shooting could spark fresh violence between ethnic Pathans, who belong to Pakistan's conservative Northwest frontier Province and Muhajirs or Muslim Indians who settled in Pakistan after 1947.
There are about two million Pathans in Karachi, but most of the city's 14million residents are Mohajirs, meaning immigrants.
The Pathans are a conservative Muslim group who originate from the hills of northern Pakistan and Afghanistan.