Pashtun diaspora

Pashtuns (Pashto: پښتون Unicode|"Paṣtūn" or پختون Unicode|"Paxtūn", also rendered as Pushtuns, Pakhtuns, Pukhtuns), also called Pathans (Urdu: پٹھان, Hindi: पठान Unicode|"Paṭhān") have many communities world-wide. In Pakistan, the word "Pathan" is beginning to be replaced by "Pakhtun". Though their homeland is in the Pakhtunkhwa region of South-Central Asia- a region stretching from southern and eastern Afghanistan to western and southern Pakistan, they are also found in the Middle East, Europe, North America, Australia as well as in other parts of the globe. These communities include substantial numbers who claim Pashtun descent (and perhaps to a lesser extent culturally) and not linguistically.

Pashtuns in South Asia


Pashtuns, are one of the largest ethnic groups in Afghanistan, comprising between 39%to 40% of Afghanistan's population or 13 million people. The term Pashtun is historically synonymous with "Afghan", a term currently used to describe a person from the country of Afghanistan. Kandahar is the second major city in Afghanistan and a stronghold of the Pashtun culture.


Pashtuns are the second largest ethnic group after the Punjabis in Pakistan, comprising over 15% of Pakistan's population (28 million persons). [ [ Population Census Organization, Government of Pakistan - Population by Mother Tongue] ] About 3 million are refugees from Afghanistan who migrated there during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. The Pashtuns have considerable influence in the politics, army, government, business and trade of Pakistan [ [ CIA - The World Factbook - Afghanistan] ] . Peshawar and Quetta are Pakistani cities with significant numbersquantify|date=August 2008 of Pashtuns while Karachi is the world's largest city by number of Pashtuns.

The following delineates the population of Pashtun in the provinces of Pakistan:Fact|date=January 2008

*North-West Frontier (14,586,000)
*Balochistan (2,293,000)
*Punjab (1,929,000)
*Sindh (1,052,000 mostly in the major city of Karachi).
*Azad Kashmir (157,000) [Part of the region bordering Pakistan falls in the disputed Kashmir region which is claimed by India]
*Islamabad Capital Territory (15,000)

In ethnic terms, substantial ethnic communities reside in Attock district and Mianwali. Other communities include large numbers of Muhammadzais in Kasur, and other larger communities have settled around Multan which was formerly part of the Durrani Empire.

In addition to this a large portion of the Urdu speaking community in Pakistan claim to be ethnically Pashtun. A large community identify themselves as Yousefzai Pashtuns. The Afghans settling in the Sultanate dynasties and Mughal Empire assimilated into Urdu speaking community. It is estimated that over 25% of Urdu speaking community claims Pashtun heritage. Additionally a significant numberquantify|date=August 2008 of descendants of Rohillas migrated to Pakistan after independence in 1947.


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 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.cite web|url =| title = Pathan|publisher = Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition|accessdate = 2007-06-07] Most of this population was alloted, along with its respective provinces, to Pakistan after the Partition of India. Today the Pashtuns in India are can be separated into those who speak Pashto and those who speak Urdu, with the latter being the far larger.

"Pashto-Speaking Communities"

A 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 Jammu & Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh.cite web|url =| title = Pathan|publisher = Lucknow for Jesus|accessdate = 2007-06-07] cite web|url =| title = Rampur|publisher = Christopher Buyers|accessdate = 2007-06-07] These Pathans, numbering around 11,086, [ Abstract of speakers’ strength of languages and mother tongues – 2001] , "Census of India" (retrieved 17 March 2008)] 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.cite web|url =| title = Study of the Pathan Communities in four States of India|publisher = Khyber|accessdate = 2007-06-07] The number of actual Pashto speakers in India may be a lot higher, especially for those living in Jammu & Kashmir due to the remoteness of their villages, and is at least as high as 14,161,cite web|url =| title = Phonemic Inventory of Pashto|publisher = CRULP|accessdate = 2007-06-07] according to some censuses. 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 picturesque 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.cite web|url =| title = Saiyids, Mughals, Pashtuns and Galawans|publisher = OPF|accessdate = 2007-06-07] Pashto is also spoken in two villages Dhakki and Changnar (Chaknot) located on the LOC [] in Kupwara District.

"Urdu-Speaking Communities"

The larger number of Pashtuns 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 Pashtun-invaders and settlers. They are often referred by the Hindi-Urdu pronunciation of the word Pashtun, "Pathan".

Shabbir Hasan Khan Josh, an Urdu-speaking poet of Pakhtun origin from Malihabad (UP, India), wrote that the Pathans of India took pride in their ethnicity and considered bravery and aggressiveness a part of it. The Pathans of India did not speak Pashto, though, according to H. G. Raverty, 'in the territory of the Rampur Nawwab, whole towns and villages may be found in which the Afghan language' was spoken up to 1860. [Shabbir Hasan Khan Josh, Yadon ki Barat [Urdu: The Wedding Procession of Memories] (Lahore: Maktaba Sher-o-Adab, 1964), p 341, passim.] Their genealogical tables, in common with their Pashto-speaking counterparts, were in Persian, which appears to have been the language of literacy among the Pakhtuns.

Major Indian Pathan tribes lived in the following areas. While, many persons belonging to these tribles 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:cite web|url =| title = Pashto Language & Identity Formation|publisher = Contemporary South Asia, July 1995, Vol 4, Issue 2, p151,20 (Khyber)|accessdate = 2007-06-07]

#Rohillas mainly live in Uttar Pradesh.
#Bangashes living in Farrukhabad
#Yousafzai other than Rohillas living in Tonk, Baroda, and Bhopal
#Mianas in Southern India
#Lodhis and Suris of North India

It must be remembered that the term "Pathan" does not refer exclusively and specifically to these Indian Pashtun descendants. Historically the term was used 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.

Many Pashtuns worked in the Indian independence movement. While many supported the Muslim League's demand for Pakistan, several Pashtuns opposed it in favor of a united and secular India. 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.

Today around 11,904,000 Urdu-speaking people who claim Pathan descent reside in post-partition India.cite web|url =| title = Pashtun, Northern of India|publisher = Joshua Project|accessdate = 2008-05-11] The following delineates the population of Pathans in the states of India.cite web|url =| title = Study of the Pathan Communities in four States of India|publisher = Khyber|accessdate = 2007-06-07]

* Uttar Pradesh (4,670,000)
* Maharashtra (1,047,000)
* West Bengal (988,000)
* Rajasthan (925,000)
* Madhya Pradesh (816,000)
* Karnataka (599,000)
* Tamil Nadu (467,000)
* Bihar (306,000)
* Andhra Pradesh (261,000)
* Gujarat (231,000)

The following are the some famous Indian Pathans:

* Josh Malihabadi
* Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad
* Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar
* Shahrukh Khan
* Bakht Khan
* Zakir Hussien
* Madhubala
* Irfan Pathan
* Najib-ud-daula
* Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi
* Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi
* Bahadur Yar Jang
* khan Fateh Khan Barech
* Khan Bahadur Khan Rohilla
* Dilip Kumar real name Yusuf Khan
* Amjad Khan
* Feroz Khan
* Fardeen Khan
* Sanjay Khan
* Zayed Khan

Also included among the Pashtuns in India are students from Afghanistan who are in India to obtain a quality educationcite web|url =| title = President Karzai Meets Afghan Students Studying in India |publisher = Office of the President (Islamic Republic of Afghanistan)|accessdate = 2007-06-07] and Kabuliwallah Pashtuns who are doing business in India.cite web|url =| title = The Kabuliwallahs of Ballimaran|publisher = The Hindu|accessdate = 2007-06-07] In addition, India has a large number of Hindu and Sikh refugees from Afghanistan who are very fluent in Pashto, Hindko and Dari.

Pashtuns in the Middle East

A significant population quantify|date=August 2008 of Pasthuns serving as migrant workers is found in the Middle East particularly in United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and other Arab countries. Majority of them are involved in the import-export business, while others are owners of construction companies.

*Iran (113,000) [ [ Ethnologue report for Southern Pashto: Iran (1993)] ]
*Turkey (54,000)

Pashtuns in Europe

A large number of Pashtuns have migrated from their homeland, South Asia, to Europe. The following statistics give information on the number of Pashtuns in European countries:

*Germany (35,000)
*France (33,000)
*Austria (31,000)
*Netherlands (26,000)

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is home to some 200,000 Pashtuns, making it one of the most populous overseas Pashtun communities. See also: Afghan British and Pakistani British [ [ The Other Languages of England] , "British Journal of Educational Studies, Vol. 34, No. 3 (Oct., 1986), pp. 288-289" (retrieved 15 March 2008)]

Pashtuns in Other parts of the World

United States

Since the late 1970s and onwards, Pashtuns began immigrating to the USA in large numbers and are well established there. The current U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (Zalmay Khalilzad) is Pashtun, who originates from Mazari Sharif in northern Afghanistan. Pashtuns in the United States are famous for running top Afghan cuisine restaurants [Helmand - [ Baltimore, Maryland] ] [Helmand - [ San Francisco, California] ] [Helmand - [ Cambridge, Massachusetts] ] as well as owners of the fast-food restaurant chain "Kennedy Fried Chicken" that is based in New York City. Pashtuns have been present in California at least since agricultural labor was imported in the early 20th Century. A prominent example is the town of Lodi, which has a large community which was in the news with the case of the Hayats, a father-and-son duo arrested by the FBI on allegation of terrorism training, in 2006. [ [ Blog: Hamid Hayat] ]


Large numbers of Afghans were recruited in the 19th century during the initial British development of Australia. These consisted of men who were not allowed to bring their families with them, many married local aborigines and are now known as Ghans. [ [ Afghan histories in Australia:] The story of the Ghans] During the 1980s and 90s, Pashtuns began settling in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and other major cities of Australia.

Latin America

There is a small number of Pashtuns in some of the South American countries, in Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, Chile, Paraguay, etc.

Guyana & Suriname

There are living some people in Guyana & Suriname who claim to have Afghan descent. Most of them came to the South American nations during the Indian immigration. [ Afghans of Guyana] , "" (retrieved 18 January 2007)]

See also

* Pashto
* Pashtun people
* Pashtun tribes
* Pashtun culture
* Pashtunistan
* Pakhtunkhwa
* Rohilkhand
* Rohillas

External links

* [ In pictures: The Afghans who do not want to go to their homeland]



* "Ahwalay Riyasatay Rampur" ("Tarikhi wa Maashrati Pusmanzar") by Syed Asghar and Ali Shadami, compiled and edited by Rizwanullah Khan Enayati and Tanzim Ahbab Rampur

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Pashtun people — Pashtuns پښتانه Paṣ̌tun …   Wikipedia

  • Afghan diaspora — Not to be confused with Pashtun diaspora. Afghan Diaspora Regions with significant populations …   Wikipedia

  • Pakistani diaspora — Overseas Pakistanis Total population 7,000,000+ [5] Approximately 4% of the Pakistani population …   Wikipedia

  • Rohilla — For the steamship, see SS Rohilla. Rohilla Maulana Mohammed Ali, Shaukat Ali, Rahimuddin Khan Total population 2 million Regions with significant populations • …   Wikipedia

  • Pashtunwali — ( ps. پښتونوالی) or Pakhtunwali is a concept of living or philosophy for the Pashtun people and is regarded as an honour code and a non written law for the people. [ [ 005/pashtolangformation.shtml Pashto… …   Wikipedia

  • Names of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa — Location of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan The Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Pashto: خیبر پښتونخوا, Urdu …   Wikipedia

  • Pashto language — Pashto پښتو Pronunciation [paʂˈto], [paçˈto], [paxˈto] Spoken in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran (minor) and by the Pashtun diaspora …   Wikipedia

  • List of Afghanistan-related topics — This is a list of Afghanistan related articles. See also the .Afghanistan* Afghanistan * SalajeetBuildings and structures in Afghanistan* Buddhas of Bamyan * Chakhil i Ghoundi Stupa * Darul Aman Palace * Kajakai Dam * Tajbeg PalaceArchaeological… …   Wikipedia

  • Pakhtunkhwa — Pakhtunkhwa, Pashtoonkhwa, or Pashtunkhwa (Pashto: پښتونخوا) is a name used historically by Pashtun leaders for the Pashtun areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan. More recently it has been used by Pashtun nationalists in Pakistan as the name with… …   Wikipedia

  • List of Pashtuns — The following is an incompelte list of notable Pashtuns who can trace their roots back to Afghanistan.[1] The list includes those born to parents who are both Pashtuns and those that have mixed Pashtun ancestry. Contents 1 List from A to Z 1.1 A… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.