Tokhi (Pashto: توخی) is a Ghilji Pashtun tribe found throughout southern, eastern, southeastern and northeastern Afghanistan. Similarly some members from Tokhi tribe also reside in Western, Southern and Eastern regions of Pakistan. In the Pashtun tribal hierarchy Tokhi is one of the most respected tribes. They are wholly powerful, rich and widely considered to be one of the most brave, warlike and tough Pashtun tribes. The mother of Mir Wais Hotak, founder of the Hotaki dynasty in Kandahar, belonged to the Tokhi tribe. Their origin is unclear but historically they have mostly lived in what is now Kabul Province in Afghanistan. The family currently in charge of leading the tribe is considered to have great influence over the government of Afghanistan. In other words, they are regarded to as the policy makers of Afghanistan

Geographic distribution

They have traditionally centered on Qalat-i-Ghilzai, also known as Qalat-i-Tokhi.

As Ghilzai are a nomadic tribe, Tokhi have moved from one place to another over the centuries. Although, some still following nomadic traditions, today they have eliminated their nomadic customs and have settled in different parts of the world.



The majority inhabits Zabul, Kandahar, Nangarhar, Kabul and Helmand.

South Asia

Some of the Tokhi soldiers from the Mughal-zai subtribe accompanied Mahmud Hotaki in his conquest to Persia, he described the Mughal-zai Tokhi to be his most lethal soldiers to destroy any Army. Mughal-zai tribe of Tokhi established a stronghold in Iran and were well-respected unlike other Pashtun groups. They converted to Shia Islam in the region and within a mere span of a couple of years became multilingual, speaking Persian, Afshari, Turkmen, Azeri, Turkish and of course their native language Pashto, they became multicultural in a small amount of time and made Persia their abode before the Afshar cheftains and Nader Shah's military companions and allies made Nader Shah aware of Mughal-Zai's courageous and loyal nature as well as their military genius. He had already witnessed their courage in the village of Solugerd where 12 Mughal-zai Tokhi men (3 armed and 9 unarmed) fought and killed 83 armed local men of the village who agitated them and tried to harass the Mughal-zai men owing to their previous military alliance with the Hotaki, primarily Mahmud Hotaki, being his elite soldiers and their ethnic affiliation to the Ghilzai Pashtun who had a devastating and ruthless short lived rule over Persia. The local men tried to humiliate the Mughal-zai Tokhi despite the entire subtribe's conversion to Shia Islam and cultural assimilation in Persia even before Mahmud Hotaki died. After the incident Nader Shah admired the bravery of the Mughal-zai Tokhi tribe and regarded them as one of the bravest he had ever witnessed and ones who would embrace death but never submit. These were the soldiers that Nader Shah was looking for to take alongside him to his voyage of conquering a big portion of the world and hence persuaded them to do so. Mughal-zai Tokhi joined Nader Shah's army and were his elite soldiers and commanders and were appointed as the administrators a lot of regions that Nader Shah's Army captured, small administrative areas were given to them considering the balance in the tribe itself and Nader Shah's other soldiers also, which included their Pashtun Abdal counterparts as well.
They accompanied Malik Feroz Khilji as well as Bahlul Khan Lodi in their conquests to Delhi and settled with the local people thereafter. They were given the name Mughal-Pathan and Qizilbash-Pathan by the local people, the name was perhaps owing to their arrival with Nader Shah, being his elite soldiers and chief commanders, top ranked among all his soldiers along with the other Pashtun, but then Mughal-zai still being more favored by the Shah himself that the people thought Mughal-zai were from his own tribe. The term "Mughal" here particularly connotes Qizilbash, because of the Nader Shah's Turkic roots and the Mughal Turkic roots as well, the some South Asians thought that they were somehow related and referred to Nader Shah as "Mughal" instead. Hence, the misinterpretations by the local people led to the given names, which in this context also refers to Mughal-zai's alliance with Nader Shah's military and his high regard for the Mughal-zai Tokhi and them being his key soldiers.
Some Mughal-zai maintain "Mughal", "Mughal-Pathan", "Qizilbash" or "Qizilbash-Pathan" as their last name as being recognized to have arrived with Shah Nader, but most commonly their historic titles "Khan" and "Shah" are used. The Mughal-zai use "Agha" as their first name (last name in some cases), a title which was bestowed on them by Nader Shah himself and also the Persian arch-rivals Ottomans who nonetheless had a great regard for Mughal-zai Tokhi's courage and chivalry.
They can be found all around South Asia, primarily Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Quetta and Qilla Abdullah in Balochistan, Sindh, Punjab, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. In India they are found throughout the urban areas of Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Lucknow. They can also be found in Rohilakhand and Jammu Kashmir.
They speak the local languages such as Punjabi, Sindhi, Urdu, Kashmiri Burushaski, Hindko and predominantly exercise Twelver Shia sect. There are many adherents of Sunni sect as well.
In Pakistan, Tokhi expatriates from Afghanistan can be found in districts of Karachi, Quetta, and Qilla Abdullah.


Some of the Mughal-zai Tokhi also settled in the Caucasus after Nader Shah appointed them as the administrators of the region that he captured. He appointed them in the climatically harsh places because of their naturally resistive and tough built and the areas that were sensitive to strong uprisings in the extensive area that he ruled over because he thought they could easily crush any such uprisings, and so they did whenever needed. Mughal-zai do not have very distinct physical traits to that of the indigenous Caucasian populations and hence they were considered to be local Caucasian by many and because of the languages they spoke, wherever they were appointed, people of that area confused them for some other group of Caucasian people, they were anyhow considered to be an indigenous group of the Caucasus by the Caucasian peoples.
As the time wore on, they kept mixing in with the indigenous different groups of Caucasian peoples in the region, no Tokhi or Pashtun ancestry claims are heard by the descendants of this sub-tribe in the Caucasus owing to their assimilation into the locals and their adoption of the culture wherever they reside. They simply refer to themselves as "Caucasian" (which the Pashtun anyhow are) the local tribes in which they have assimilated, it may vary upon the area which they inhabit.

United States

Residing mainly in Massachusetts and New York, they constitute quarter of the total Pashtun diaspora in the United States.


In Germany, they are Tokhi doctors and businessmen. Frankfurt has a large number of Tokhi.


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See also


    Further reading

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