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Thread: Pashtun / Pashtunwali / Pashtunistan (catch all)

  1. #1
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Default Pashtun / Pashtunwali / Pashtunistan (catch all)

    Excellent and informative article on Pashtun customary law by Tom Barfield. Found via Afghanistanica.

    ...
    Pashtuns, even wealthy ones, who moved to large cities were even farther removed from the values of the
    Pashtunwali because there they were enmeshed in state systems of government that restricted autonomy and cash economies that valued money more than honor. It is for this reason that examples of customary law as a living tradition are found mainly in the marginal areas of rural Afghanistan even though the ethos of the Pashtunwali is common to all rural Pashtuns ...


    The blog has some nice commentary as well:

    I would venture a guess that if it was possible to do a quantitative analysis of revenge in Afghanistan, a researcher would find that few Pashtuns actually attempt revenge and even fewer attain it. But damn it, that whole Pashtunwali thing makes for an interesting article. And never mind that it is a wee bit Orientalist and sensationalist; Whatsisname at that there newspaper wants to tell you that Pashtuns are an unthinking bunch of maniacs bent on revenge, guided only by their basest emotions and incapable of logic, reason, forgiveness or pragmatism. I’m not going to cite any articles because there are so many to choose from, and not just from second-rate rags like [insert name of any newspaper in the world], but in quality sources such as The Economist and The Christian Science Monitor.

    What those journalists are leaving out are the concepts of Nanawatay, Rogha, Nagha and Jirga. All these concepts are, in some form or another, tools for reconciliation, forgiveness, compensation, punishment or justice. And guess what? They are included in Pashtunwali along with Badal.

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    Default The Struggle for Pashtunistan

    CSIS, 17 Oct 07: The Struggle for “Pashtunistan”: The Afghan-Pakistan War
    - The security situation in Afghanistan is assessed by most analysts as having deteriorated at a constant rate through 2007. Statistics show that although the numbers of incidents are higher than comparable periods in 2006,they show the same seasonal pattern.

    - The nature of the incidents has however changed considerably since last year, with high numbers of armed clashes in the field giving way to a combination of armed clashes and asymmetric attacks countrywide.

    - The Afghan National Police (ANP) has become a primary target of insurgents and intimidation of all kinds has increased against the civilianpopulation, especially those perceived to be in support of the government, international military forces as well as the humanitarian and development community.

    - The more significant change in 2007 is the shift from large-scale armed clashes in the field to asymmetric or terror-style attacks. The former do still take place and as air support is often used, casualty figures are still high. On average however these clashes are fewer and smaller than in 2006.

    - Possible reasons include the high numbers of Taliban fighters killed during summer 2007 including many mid-level and senior commanders. Another reason must be the realization that these types of attacks are futile against a modern conventionally equipped military force supported by a wide range of air assets. The Afghan National Army (ANA) has also been improving throughout 2007
    Complete 28 slide brief in pdf at the link.

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    Council Member Shivan's Avatar
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    Default The Struggle for Pashtunistan

    Thank you for posting. The data are useful.

    I'm not sure what the CSIS purports to show besides providing quantifiable data on what we already know. If Cordesman is suggesting that Pashtunistan is a prime goal of the Taliban, he's wrong.

    Neither Afghanistan nor Pakistan will cede territory to form a Pashtun homeland. This is an old Pashtun dream, and revived in some quarters. To quote an Afghan specialist (whom I will not name here), the Afghan leaders, “like poker players at a card game, are more interested in dividing the pot than they are in dividing the table at which they sit." Hypothetically, if there was to be a Pashtunistan, it would not receive the funding Afghanistan receives, and would be beset by neighbors on many sides. Afghanistan is not the Balkans: the Balkans were various ethnicities hastily cobbled together; however, Afghans consider their multi-ethnic state the norm. While Pashtunistan is a sore point, Pashtun thought and aspirations are not homogenous, i.e., while there may be some support for Pashtunistan, it is not universal.

    There are multiple causes for the mosaic insurgencies in Afghanistan, and voluntary support for the Taliban varies from clan to clan, sub-clan to sub-clan, village to village, and is more complex than can be described herein. Which gets us into the "cultural intelligence" aspect, i.e., why do many Pashtuns support the Taliban? Why is their gravitational attraction increasing, while the attraction of the democracy project continues to decline?

    While Afghanistan may not be sectarian like Iraq, Cordesman fails to acknowledge the importance of its ethnic diversity, with about 55 identifiable ethnicities. It is also more linguistically diverse, with several dialects and languages falling into the broad category of Indo-European (e.g. Persian) and Turkic (e.g., Turko-Mongolian). I disagree with his claim that Afghanistan is religiously more "homogenous" (p.5): Sunni religious orthopraxy varies sharply, and there is no established orthodoxy in the land, and never has, despite the best efforts of Amir 'Abd al-Rahman (1880-1901). Finally, the Shi'ites come in several stripes: from Twelver Shi'a (as in Iran) to Sevener Shi'a (Ismā‘īlī) to Nizāri Ismā‘īlī (commonly, the "Assassins").

    There is thus bound to be some friction, and why Afghanistan should devolve power to regions, be it by de jure or de facto means. A strong central state is not one which most Afghans favor, being accustomed to greater regional, local/tribal autonomy.

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    Canadian Army Journal, Fall 07: The Way of the Pashtun: Pashtunwali
    .....Knowledge of the cultural norms and practices of Afghans is rudimentary at best. Few in Canada, and quite likely Europe and North America, have any real understanding of Afghanistan and its people. Tribal codes and practices seem as distant in time as the American frontier or the “wild west,” and more appropriate to an era dominated by imperial practices and the building of empires, certainly not the 21st Century. Many cannot conceive of a people who do not subscribe to the concept of rights and obligations we in Canada take for granted, and whose lives differ so dramatically from the scope of the privileges that we are afforded in the West. Certainly, few can understand why the Pashtuns of Afghanistan believe what they do, or why it is important to them.

    The purpose of this piece is to describe the code commonly referred to as Pashtunwali, paying specific attention to its tenets and guiding principles, as well as its applicability and usage. Additionally, I will examine its relationship with the Islamic concept of shari’a, as well as the role played by women in its day-to-day use. Lastly, I will close with some observations on the code and possible implications it could have for the conduct of ongoing NATO operations within Afghanistan. The topic warrants study and discussion, largely because of the significant interactions which are happening between westerners currently in Afghanistan as part of the “International Security Assistance Force” (ISAF) and “Operation ENDURING FREEDOM” (OEF), but also because if there is any real hope of ever rebuilding Afghanistan and making it a viable nation on the world stage, it is imperative that an understanding of its cultural norms and practices exists beyond that articulated in the popular press.....

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    Council Member zenpundit's Avatar
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    Default Very interesting

    Though it reads like a book report at times, it was one of the most informative reports on the details of Pustunwali that I've seen. Women appear to be able to influence male behavior under the Pushtunwali by subtlely positioning themselves in such a way that refusal of their request would be regarded as shameful for a man of authority and cause a loss of standing or honor.

    I wonder how the Pustunwali compares with the Adat of the Chechens - anyone out there know?

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Other slants

    In December 2006 The Economist published an article on the Pashtun code of honour, it is a good account, but is not available freely on their website. It is on this link: http://www.scribd.com/doc/1302/The-E...htunwali-tribeAlas link no longer works (Jan 2010).

    This link appears to suddenly end and hard copy of original article is at work, so will check out later today.

    Or try this article, from July 2007, written by an Afghan now resident in Australia: http://www.atlanticfreepress.com/content/view/1952/81/

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    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-10-2010 at 09:40 PM.

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    REI, 2 Apr 08: ‘Pashtunistan’: The Challenge to Pakistan and Afghanistan
    Summary: The alarming growth of al-Qaeda and the Taliban in the Pashtun tribal region of north-western Pakistan and southern Afghanistan is usually attributed to the popularity of their messianic brand of Islam and to covert help from Pakistani intelligence agencies. But another, more ominous, reason also explains their success: their symbiotic relationship with a simmering Pashtun separatist movement that could lead to the unification of the estimated 41 million Pashtuns on both sides of the border, the break-up of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the emergence of a new national entity, an ‘Islamic Pashtunistan’.

    This ARI examines the Pashtun claim for an independent territory, the historical and political roots of the Pashtun identity, the implications for the NATO- or Pakistani-led military operations in the area, the increasing co-operation between Pashtun nationalist and Islamist forces against Punjabi domination and the reasons why the Pashtunistan movement, long dormant, is slowly coming to life.

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    Excellent articles all. As for blogs, don't forget the Baluchis!

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    Council Member TROUFION's Avatar
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    Default Consider PUSHTUNISTAN

    In a review of both historical actions, the dubious validity of the Durand line and the recent battles in and around the Pashtun stronholds in both Afghanistan and Pakistan it appears the insurgent goals have changed slightly. This is more of a question to those who are interested in this region, are we seeing a merging of the Pakistan and Afghan Taliban in the pursuit of a new status quo: the formation of an independent Pushtunistan? A Pushtun ethnically centric tribal region carved from both Pakistan and Afghanistan. This would then be a launch pad region for future conquest. THoughts?

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    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Question I don't Know?

    Quote Originally Posted by TROUFION View Post
    In a review of both historical actions, the dubious validity of the Durand line and the recent battles in and around the Pashtun stronholds in both Afghanistan and Pakistan it appears the insurgent goals have changed slightly. This is more of a question to those who are interested in this region, are we seeing a merging of the Pakistan and Afghan Taliban in the pursuit of a new status quo: the formation of an independent Pushtunistan? A Pushtun ethnically centric tribal region carved from both Pakistan and Afghanistan. This would then be a launch pad region for future conquest. THoughts?
    Wouldn't something like that almost place them at a larger disadvantage considering that not only would it help to further define the "safe Haven" but make them even more likely to be under attack by both Afghan/NATO forces but Pakistani forces on a much larger scale.

    Bad guys do tend to band together when they need to but still not quite sure they could pull off what your suggesting even if they'd like to
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    Council Member Hacksaw's Avatar
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    Default I think I agree with Ron

    You would really have to divide this up among several players and sub-divide that by long and short term objectives...

    Tribal folks - might long term enjoy having a Pashtun-stan, but only as a tribal federation

    Taliban folks - might settle for a Pashtun-stan, but only as lesser outcome. Why settle for a sliver of area when you used to rule a country. Besides their style is a little too directive for tastes of mountain tribals. So Taliban and Tribal folks outlooks not really the same.

    AQ folks - They don't need a constituted state, ungoverned areas are far more conducive to what they need now. A Pashtun-stan would have no big-daddy if they hosted terrorist training camps.

    In light of all that, I don't see this great confluence of interests - long term.

    Of course I'm dated in my understanding of the tribes and their affiliation/interests. As we could see in Iraq, those can change quickly.
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    Council Member bourbon's Avatar
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    Insurgent goals or our goals?

    The foreign reaction to Ralph Peters' "Blood Borders" was very interesting. Some believe that it's concepts are driving our strategy. More discomforting is they trace the contemporary strain of this to the ideas of a center-right Israeli strategist named Oded Yinon. I've heard many Pakistani's think that we want to break up their country, and cite alleged support given to Baloch groups. A Pushtunistan would erode Pakistan's reason for being.

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    Council Member Hacksaw's Avatar
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    Default Not sure who you are responding to...

    Bourbon,
    If it is me, then I wasn't nearly clear enough... I suppose either way I don't see any single group wanting a seperate nation of Pashtun-stan. My impression is that the huddled masses of Pashtun's on either side of the border are pretty ambivalent. In the FATA, they are already considered an autonomous zone, on the AFG side they are not nearly as postured to do what the Kurds did in the Northern Zone. Insurgents don't benefit from a Pahstun-stan - because the ambiguity of the current situation far better suits their needs. Neither the Pak nor Afg gov'ts want to jetison the areas.

    So.... All around I don't see any group that when pressed would support the idea of Pashtun-stan.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Well, that's what I thought

    you said...

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    Council Member TROUFION's Avatar
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    Default Score 4:0 against pushtoonistan

    BUT, as I am ever in a debate mode here are some historical precedents and some of my own thoughts having been looking hard at the region lately.

    Here is a JSTOR article from 1973. Dated yes, but the folks in this region don't follow timelines the way westerners do.
    http://www.jstor.org/pss/2569059

    The seed for the Pushtoonistan concept was planted in the 1947 at the time of the Partition of Pakistan and India. The Brits offered the NWFP residents the choice of Pakistan or India, and not of joining Afghanistan. It is deeper than that as it actually goes back several dynasties of Afghans claiming Peshawar, but for sake of this argument the 1947 date will suffice. There was a movement in the tribal agencies for a plebiscite for self determination as had been held in Kashmir. Pakistan held on and defeated this movement despite a 1949 Loya Jirga in Afghanistan in support of Pushtooinstan.

    In any event there exists a deep rooted concept of pushtun ethnic unity that could be the basis of a greater organization.

    Now looking at it many of the points made by council members are valid, an overt "state" would be futile. We cannot think in the terms of state in this region. That the Pakistan Taliban and the Afghan Taliban are one in the same, which is the concept here. Traditionalist Pashtuns forming up across the border as a tribal confederacy of sorts. The Taliban may be seeing greater gains in driving into Pakistan as it only has to face the Pakistan Army vice NATO. But this concept of Pushtunistan goes beyond that. It allows them to operate cross border without thought.

    In any event the prominence of the minorities in the Afghan government are also a driving factor. Pashtuns are the majority but may feel under represented in the government. The Pashtuns Traditionalist may be looking at the world in a different way, a state for the Pashtuns, ethnically and religiously “pure”.

    By the way I am not advocating this idea, I am only looking at the fight we have and see a change in the goals of the Taliban and their supporters. Namely the formation (even covert) of a Pushtoonistan- the fulfillment of an ancient desire to unify all Pashtuns on both sides of the Durand line.

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    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Question I might agree

    Quote Originally Posted by TROUFION View Post
    BUT, as I am ever in a debate mode here are some historical precedents and some of my own thoughts having been looking hard at the region lately.
    Aren't we all


    Quote Originally Posted by TROUFION View Post
    By the way I am not advocating this idea, I am only looking at the fight we have and see a change in the goals of the Taliban and their supporters. Namely the formation (even covert) of a Pushtoonistan- the fulfillment of an ancient desire to unify all Pashtuns on both sides of the Durand line.
    You could very well be seeing a congruence of sorts between many of the parties to this and there would almost certainly be lineage as well as other factors used to encourage it. But I think it's probably more in lines with trying to find a way to bring bigger battles rather than small scuffles. Sorta an Afghan/Tali Tet as it were. I really don't know how far beyond that any particular grouping is gonna effectively stick considering how easily associations switch based on survival instincts of the varying tribal, religious, and military leaders.
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

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    Two products requiring AKO Log-in and BCKS membership to access:

    Micro Mission Guide: Afghanistan
    Afghanistan's history and culture are complex. This guide is a starting point that draws from the experiences of military operators, academics, and analysts. It complements existing cultural intelligence products on Afghanistan and gives deeper insight into the way Afghans conduct themselves when holding meetings, attending special events, and conducting negotiations.
    NWFP and FATA Pakistan Regional Culture Smart Card
    This culture smart card provides unclassified information on NWFP and FATA culture. Topics addressed include:

    Cultural History
    Governing Laws
    Pashtun Society
    Tribal Agencies
    Centers of Authority
    Frontier Corps

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    Default The Pashtun factor (catch all)

    Ran across this over at Ghosts of Alexander and it seems like it is something the COIN center in Kabul or any deployer would want to read. Maybe we can get a PDF copy here.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-13-2019 at 05:47 PM. Reason: update

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    First issue of a new publication from the Aryana Institute of Regional Research and Advocacy:

    Kyber - The Voices of Pashtuns, June 2009
    Kyber is an initiative to engage the Pashtun intelligentia and youth, both in the homeland and in the diaspora with the aim to discuss Pashtun issues and contribute to a more informed debate on the Pashtun question on both sides of the Durand Line. The magazine also intends to provide a forum to our youth to remain in touch with their culture, art and literature and at the same time, to illustrate a softer image of the Pashtun to the outer world.
    Articles include:

    • Pashtun Population: An Estimate

    • Pashtun Besieged: Is there a way out?

    • Pashtun Ethnic Cleansing and Opportunity for Peace

    • What do we (Pashtun) need?

    • The code of Pashtunwali

    • IDPs Crisis and Governance Confusion

    • IDPs updates as on 8-5-2009

    • Irfan Khan Revealed Interview with Irfan Khan

    • Video (Specially edited for KHYBER)

    • Afghani Cuisine

    • Green Tea of Peshawar

  20. #20
    Former Member George L. Singleton's Avatar
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    Default Thanks for Pakhtun numerous Internet reserach sites

    Thanks for all these Pashtun background info posts, some of which I did not know about.

    Simplified the folks who are the Taliban are Pakhtuns, in the main, in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. There is nothing "honorable" about abusing women and children, and other more gross and fatal acts that are common practice by the Taliban "using the excuse of religion" in today's world.

    But you all know this.

    Again, thanks for some citations I will not take time to explore which I formerly was unaware of.

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