|(Approx. 49 million (2009))|
|Regions with significant populations|
|United States||138,554 (2010)|
|United Kingdom||100,000 (2009)|
Urdu, Dari and English as second languages
with small Shia minority
Pashtun diaspora refers to ethnic Pashtuns who live outside of their traditional homeland, which is south of the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and west of the Indus River in Pakistan. Pakistan is home to the largest Pashtun community. Smaller populations of Pashtuns are found in the European Union, North America, Australia and other parts of the world. They may also be found in the Middle East, particularly in the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain. In Northern India, there are communities of Indians who trace their origins to the traditional Pashtun homeland.
The Pashtun ethnic group also known as Pathan are believed to have settled in the vast Pashtunistan tribal region in the first millennium C.E., between the Hindu Kush mountains and the Indus River. According to Ethnologue, they currently number around 50 million but some sources give slightly lower or higher figures. In the Indian subcontinent, the group is usually referred to as Pathan.
The ethnonym Afghan has been historically used since the 3rd century AD to refer to the Pashtuns, and is now used to describe every citizen of Afghanistan. Pashtuns make up the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan, comprising 42–60% of the total Afghan population. Approximately 1.7 million Afghan refugees live in neighboring Pakistan. The majority of them are Pashtuns who were born in that country.
The Pashtuns are scattered all over Afghanistan, they can be found in almost every province of the country. Kandahar is the second largest city in Afghanistan and a stronghold of the Pashtun culture. The city of Lashkar Gah in the south, Farah in the west, Jalalabad in the east, and Kunduz in the north are other prominent cultural centres whose populations are predominantly Pashtun. Kabul and Ghazni each have at least 25% Pashtun while Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif each has at least 10%.
Pashtun tribes make up the second largest ethnic group in Pakistan, comprising over 25%. They form the majority ethnic group in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) areas, and northern Balochistan.
With as many as 7 million by some estimates, the city of Karachi in Sindh Province hosts the largest concentration of urban Pashtuns population in the world Some important Pashtun cities of Pakistan include: Peshawar, Quetta, Zhob, Loralai, Killa Saifullah, Swat, Mardan, Charsada, Mingora, Bannu, Parachinar, and Swabi.
The following delineates the Pashtun population in the provinces of Pakistan:
|Khyber Pakhtunkhwa||26 million|
|Federally Administered Tribal Areas||5.5 million|
|Islamabad Capital Territory||450,000|
Smaller Pashtun communities outside of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa can be found in the districts of Attock and Mianwali in Punjab. These and other communities of Pashtun ancestry are often referred to as the Punjabi Pashtun. There are also large communities of Punjabi-Pashtuns Such as Niazi and others lives in Khanewal, Kasur, and other larger communities have settled around Multan which was formerly part of the Durrani Empire. Pathan community lives in different district of Azad Kashmir. Mainly they are being settled in districts of Poonch, Sudhnuti and Bagh. In Poonch and Sudhnuti they constitute more than 70% population of district. Kashmiri Pashtuns mainly consists of Sadozai tribe which are locally known as Sudhan. Approximate population of Sadozai,s in AJK is 1 million. Sadozai tribe has a strong hold in Rawalakot city in Azad Kashmir. Small no of other pashtun tribes in Kashmir which include Durrani, Tareen, Lodhi, Yousafzai Shinwary and Afridi tribes which extends from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir to India's Jammu & Kashmir. They speak local languages.
In addition to this, some Urdu-speaking communities in Pakistan trace their ancestry to the ancient Pashtun regions of Afghanistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhawa. Some identify themselves as Bangash, Yousefzai, Ghouri and Durrani. Additionally, a significant number of descendants of Rohillas migrated to Pakistan after the independence of Pakistan in 1947.
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India, as a British colony, once had a large Pashtun population roughly equal to that of Afghanistan, mostly concentrated in what were then the British Indian provinces of the North-West Frontier Province and Baluchistan. In Rohilkhand, they made large settlements subsequent to 14th century and prior to the 20th century. In fact, according to Encyclopædia Britannica, the number of Pashtuns in all of India was nearly 31 million, but the speakers of Pashto numbered less than 14 million. Most of this population was allotted, along with its respective provinces, to Pakistan after the independence in 1947. Today the Pashtuns in India can be divided into those who speak Pashto and those who speak Urdu and other regional languages, the Urdu speaking group being the biggest.
There are a large number of Pashto-speaking Pakhtuns in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Although their exact numbers are hard to determine, it is at least in excess of 100,000 for it is known that in 1954 over 100,000 nomadic Pakhtuns living in Kashmir Valley were granted Indian citizenship. Today jirgas are frequently held. Those settled and living in the Kashmir Valley speak Pashto, and are found chiefly in the southwest of the valley, where Pashtun colonies have from time to time been founded. The most interesting are the Kukikhel Afridis of Dramghaihama, who retain all the old customs and speak Pashto. They wear colorful dress and carry swords and shields. The Afridis and the Machipurians, who belong to the Yusufzai tribe, are liable to military service, in return for which they hold certain villages free of revenue. The Pashtuns chiefly came in under the Durranis, but many were brought by Maharajah Gulab Singh for service on the frontier. Pashto is also spoken in two villages, Dhakki and Changnar (Chaknot), located on the Line of Control in Kupwara District. In response to demand by the Pashtun community living in the state, Kashir TV has recently launched a series of Pushto-language programs.
A further small, scattered Pashtun population still exists in some major cities of India with large Muslim populations, with the majority of Pashto-speaking individuals residing in the states of Delhi and Uttar Pradesh India; who also have adopted local languages of the respective areas they live in, as their second language. These Pathans, numbering around 14,161, have retained the use of the Pashto language and are still able to speak and understand it. This is partially because until recently, most of these Indian Pashtuns were able to travel to Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.
The larger number of people claiming Pashtun ancestry in India are Urdu-speaking. Despite the loss of most of the Raj-era Pashtun population, India still has a large community of Urdu-speaking Muslims who trace their ancestry to ancient Pashtun invaders and settlers. They are often referred by the Hindustani pronunciation of the word Pashtun, "Pathan".
Major Indian Pathan tribes lived in the following areas. While many persons belonging to these tribes moved to the Afghan-Pakistan border, others chose to stay and thus, descendants of these tribes still reside in the parts of India listed below:
- Tareens or Tarins, properly, in Sarai Tareen, a small town in the city Sambhal of Uttar Pradesh
- Kheshgis, Barakzais, Yousafzais and Momands in Khurja, a small town in District Bulandshahre, which lies in close proximity to New Delhi. Pathans in Khurja never marry outside their clan and this led to the preservation of their blue blood. Their alliance is with the Pathans of Bara-Basti (12 villages of pathans belonging to specific tribe in the district bulandshahre). Kheshgi are the most prominent tribe in this area and are only exclusive to Khurja only after KPK and Afghanistan.
- Rohillas in the Rohilkhand region of Uttar Pradesh
- Bangashes in Farrukhabad District in Uttar Pradesh and the towns of Kasganj and Kaimganj of Etah District
- Dilazaks in Village Shahjahanpur in Meerat ghar road Uttar Pradesh, Dilazak in Andhra Pradesh, Bari in Rajistan, Jalandhar (Punjab), Azeem Khail(Pathan Kot) Jammu and Kashmir and West Bengal.
- Marwats in Aurangabad in Maharashtra, Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh and Bhopal
- Yousafzais in Baroda in Gujarat, and Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh
- Tonkia Pathan, a community mainly of Yousafzai descent found in Tonk, and other districts of Rajasthan
- Sorgar community of Rajasthan also claims Pashtun ancestry.
- Lodis and Suris of North India
- Lodis, Yousafzai and Suris of Bihar
- Pathans of Gujarat are a distinct community within the larger community of the Pathans of India. They belonge mainly to the Babi (a.k.a. Babai in Pakistan/Afghanistan), Lohani, Mandori, Yousafzai and Zadran tribes.
It is significant to note that a large part of above Pathan diaspora have naturalized themselves in the local culture over the centuries.
The term "Pathan" does not refer exclusively and specifically to these Indian Pashtun descendants. Historically the term was used mainly to refer to Pashtuns in general by mainstream Indians Muslims included. Most Pashtuns, however, find the term to be insensitive and prefer to be called by their native label.
Indians of Pashtun ancestry
- Zakir Hussain, President of India from 1967 to 1969
- Shahrukh Khan, Bollywood superstar in Indian films
- Madhubala, Bollywood actress between the 1940s and 1960s
- Feroz Khan, Bollywood actor during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s
- Saif Ali Khan, Bollywood actor of Pashtun descent
- Parveen Babi, Bollywood actress during the 1970s and 1980s
- Salman Khan, Bollywood actor of Pashtun descent
- Salim Khan, Salman Khan's father
- Kader Khan, Bollywood actor
- Zarine Khan, Bollywood actress
Many Pashtuns worked in the Indian independence movement. While many supported the Muslim League's demand for Pakistan, some Pashtuns opposed it in favor of a united and secular India, especially members of the Indian National Congress. These included Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, his son Khan Wali Khan, Indian diplomat Mohammed Yunus, Pakistani opposition leader Mufti Mahmud and Balochistan-based Pashtun leader Abdul Samad Achakzai. Also among the Pashtuns in India are students from Afghanistan who are in India to obtain a quality education, including President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai and Kabuliwallah Pashtuns who are doing business in India. In addition, India has a large number of Hindu and Sikh refugees from Afghanistan who are fluent in Pashto, and Dari.
Pashtuns in the Middle East
Hundreds of thousands of Pasthuns serving as migrant workers reside in the Middle East, particularly in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and other Arab countries. Many of them are involved in the transport business, while others are employees of construction companies.
Over 100,000 Pashtuns live in Iran as citizens of that country and a further sizable number live among the Afghan refugees. The Pashtuns there are mainly concentrated in the Afghan-Iran border, in the South Khorasan Province of Iran.
Pashtuns in Europe
The United Kingdom is home to some 100,000 Pashtuns, making it one of the most populous overseas Pashtun communities in the world and the most populous one in the West. Pashtun diaspora in UK have made their presence felt through their restaurants with traditional names like Bab-eKhyber, Hujra, Kabuli pulao etc. and Music. Its one of the most vibrant Pashtun diaspora in the west.
Pashtuns in other parts of the world
Pashtuns have been present in California at least since agricultural labor was imported in the early 20th century. Since the late 1970s and onwards, Pashtuns began immigrating to the USA in large numbers and are well established there. Pashtuns in the United States are famous for running top Afghan cuisine restaurants and as owners of the fast-food restaurant chain Kennedy Fried Chicken that is based in New York City.
1,690 persons characterised their ethnicity as "Pashtun" in Canada's 2006 census. However, in question 17 of Canada's Statcan census form most Pashtuns don't put their ethnicity as Pashtuns but rather Afghan or Pakistani.
Pashtuns concentrate in regions with large Afghan and Pakistani communities. Interestingly, there are regions in southern Ontario with a large Pashtun diaspora of Pakistani nationality, living Afghan communities with Dari speakers instead of Pashto speakers, causing a large polarization of the word "Afghan", especially irredentist disputes claiming Pakistani Pashtun communities as Afghan nationals.
In the latter part of the 19th century several thousand men from Afghanistan, Baluchistan, Kashmir, Sind, Rajasthan, Egypt, Persia, Turkey and Punjab, but collectively known as "Afghans", were recruited during the initial British development of the Australian Outback, especially for the operation of camel trains in desert areas. These consisted of men who were not allowed to bring their families with them, many married local Aborigines and are now known as Ghans. During the 1980s and 90s, Pashtuns began settling in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and other major cities of Australia.
Since the early 1900s there have been many generations of Pashtuns who migrated from Afghanistan, Pakistan and the tribal areas of Pakistan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa). Pashtun settlements in Thailand have been common throughout the provinces. There is even a Thai-Pashtun Friendship Association. Because the Pashtuns are fiercely independent, they often are well treated and respected by the Thai locals. Countries like Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia and Malaysia also have similar cases of Pashtun settlements.
Guyana and Suriname
Many Pashtuns from Afghanistan came to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Panama, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru as refugees during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1981 and during the internal Afghan conflicts in 1995–1996
- Pathans of Punjab
- Pathans of Rajasthan
- Pashtun people
- Pashtun tribes
- Pashtun culture
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