Pashtunwali – The Code of the Pashtuns
I heard it said by a Pashtun that he has been a Pashtun for 5,000 years, a Muslim for 1430 years, and a Pakistani for 63 years. That is the power of the Pashtun identity, one of the oldest and largest ethnic/tribal groups in the world.
Forty million strong, Pashtuns mainly live in the Pashtun tribal belt which straddles the Afghan/Pakistan border.
The legal and moral code by which they live, deeply embedded in the Pashtun psyche, is the concept of Pashtunwali, the idea that honor, hospitality, revenge, and the importance of tribe, clan, and family are paramount.
Fierce fighters, they are said to have been reluctantly admired by the British, Russians, and any other group who tried to subdue them.
It is said that they are today’s Spartans in a culture that lives and breathes war and conflict.
The attempt to extend the influence of a national government is antithetical to the Pashtun ways of living. Outsiders are rejected violently if they threaten to usurp the ancient ways.
In order to understand current events in Afghanistan and Pakistan, it is imperative to understand the mores of this ancient tribe.