View Full Version : Pakhtun, Afghan and Pathan


truepashtun
03-05-2010, 01:50 PM
The nomenclatures of Pakhtun/Pashtun, Afghan and Pathan, historically describe the same people but now political expediencies have distorted this well documented fact and therefore it has become necessary to find out the true and indigenous historical identity of a formidable Nation, which was fragmented into several geographical confines either by its adversaries or the quest for subsistence made its peoples migrated to the Middle East, Europe and America.

The historical truth reveals beyond any doubt that these people carried the aboriginal name of “Pakhtun” (or ‘Pashtun’ in the soft variant of their language), but was, later, called by different names by other races, which fate brought close to them in the course of history. They were called Avghans by the Armenians, Afghans by the Persians, Sulemanis by the Arabs, and Pathans by the Indians but they themselves prefer to be called Pakhtuns/Pashtuns.

“The appellation of “Pakhtun/Pashtun” is much older than the “Afghan”, recalls Habibullah Tagai in his booklet, “Pukhtana” and adds that the great Greek historian Herodotus has described Pakhtana as Paktuese and their country as Paktuike, Paktika or Paktikha (Pakhtunkhwa) in 400 BC”.

A noted Afghan historian Muhammad Hasan Kakar carries the roots beyond and observes that “We find the description of “Pakht” in the Vedic scriptures of 1500 BC, which is regarded by almost all the orientalists and anthropologists a root, from which the name, “Pakhtun” stems out. Another Afghan intellectual Mohammad Masoom Hotak also believes that the “Pakht” of Rigveda and the “Paktues” of Herodotus are undeniably the “Pakhtuns/Pashtuns” of today, who were called Afghans and Pathans by alien nations, but who call themselves “Pukhtana” and their language as “Pakhtu or Pashto”.

It happened so in the course of the times that tas Pakhtuns generally inhabited the mountainous terrains and highlands and as the “dwellers of the mountain” were called “Avghans” in the Armenian language and hence by the position of their abode, the Pakhtuns/Pashtuns were called by their Armenian neighbors as “Avghans”, later converted to “Afghans” by the Persians.

Kerarson, and Trump, the renowned orientalists and historiographers also confirm that these were the Persians who gave the name of “Afghans” to the Pakhtuns.

Prof. Emeritus AH Dani maintains that Herodotus explicitly giving the portrayal of the Pakhtuns mentioned, “The Paktues wore cloaks of skin and carried the bow of their country and the dagger”. The Persian suzerain Darius commanded his general Skylax to find out where the river Indus emptied itself into the Sea. According to the Father of the History, Herodotus, “he started from the city of “Kaspaturos” and the country of “Paktuike”. Dr. AH Dani further elaborates, “The word Afghan, Avghan or Abagan, which is found in all the Muslim accounts, has been traced only to the Sassanian inscription of the3rd century AD, and more clearly to Varahamihra’s Brihatsamhita of the 6th century. Right from the time of Ghaznavid sultans this word alone is used to denote these people whether they live in the West or in the East, the former called Afghan and the later Pathan by Muhammad Qasim Farishta in his “Twareekh-e-Farishta”.

European writer Morgenstierne sums up, “A distinction is sometimes made between Afghan and Pathan, the former being applied to the Durranis and allied tribes. But the difference is only in the nomenclature, the Persian designation “Afghan”(of unknown etymology) being applied to the western tribes, while Pathan, the Indianized form of the native name is used about the “Eastern ones”. Sir Thomas Holdick suggests, “It is difficult to account for the name Afghan. It has been said that it is but the Armenian word Avghan (mounteers).”

Pakhtuns consider the Indianized name “Pathan” as derogatory which was given to them by the estranged Indian tribes subdued by them. Some derive the name from the “Parthians”, who held great resemblance in body structure and physique to the pakhtuns, some describe it as a derivation from “Batan” a fairy-tale title of one of their ancestors, while some relate it to “Patna”, an Indian city which was inhabited by the migrated Pakhtuns, for the first time during Pakhtuns exodus to India.

The Persians, being the then custodians of the realm of literature and history, popularized their given name “Afghan” for the oldest form of Pakhtun/Pashtun so much that this name found practice even in the writings of the Pakhtun poets, writers and authors. The European orientalists also resorted to a general use of the name “Afghan” to denote the people who called themselves Pakhtuns.

Khushal Khan Khattak, Kazim Khan Shaida, Rahman Baba, Ashraf Khan Hijri, Pir Mohammad Kakar, Rowshanite poets, Akhun Darwaiza etc, have invariably used the nomenclature of Afghan for pakhtuns in their poetry. Some of them have used both “Pakhtun” and “Afghan” simultaneously for the same people. Similarly following the footsteps of the Persians who owned a rich literary heritage and who mastered the print media of the time, the European historians stamped the appellation of “Afghan” on the Pakhtuns in their story-telling. Alphinstone, Darmestrator, Alexander Burnes HW Bellew, Morgenstierne, Barnard Dorn, Waliam Jones, Gorge Rose, Moorcraft, Mason, Henry W. Raverty, Sir Olaf caroe etc, have adopted the name of “Afghan” to denote Pakhtuns in all their compositions and compilations.

Some famous verses of the celebrated Pakhtun Poets of the yester years may add taste to the truth of owning the name of Afghan for themselves.

Da Afghan pa nang me otarala toora
Nangyale da zamane Khushal Khattak yam. (Khushal Baba)

Che kishwar Da Afghanano Mo’attar kree
Da har Bait Misra me zulfay da khuban kre. (Rahman Baba)
Pa Hindi ada ye oray pa maa chaare
Za shaida pa zra saada da Roh Afghan yam. (Kazim Khan Shaida)

The court literati of the Safavid, Ghaznavid and Moghal empires put the name of “Afghan” in vogue in such a manner in their write-ups that it superseded the aboriginal name of the “Pakhtun/Pashtun”.

To compare further the antiquity of the two most popular names, Pakhtun and Afghan, the former is rooted deep in the history since 3500 years, while the later ages some 1700 years if we believe that the Sassanian emperor Shahpur-1 got it inscribed on a plaque in the 3rd century AD.

HW Bellew observes that the name of Afghanistan was suggested by the Persians in recent era. Afghanistan was not named so till the half of the 18th Century. Nadir shah Afshar was the first conqueror who called the northern territories of his domain, Faras as Afghanistan. A noted afghan Scholar Ahmad Ali kohzad also believes that Afghanistan was quiet a new name, having a root of only 150 years. Some people believe that Ahmad shah Abdali founded Afghanistan in 1747 AD, but he never used this name. His famous couplet remembering pakhtunkhwa while alighted on the majestic throne of Delhi is worth mentioning;

Da Deeli Takht Herawom che rayaad kram
Zma da khukule pakhtunkhwa da ghara saroona

Ahmad shah Baba remembers Hameed lodhi and Farid khan ( Sher shah Suri) and yearn the “pakhtun” to show their skills of sword;

Da hameed Ao da Fareed dawar ba bya shee
Che pa Tooro “pukhtana” kra guzaroona

Pakhtuns are comfortable with the appellation of “Afghan” as far as it denotes only Pakhtuns but the confusion was unleashed when the later Mohmadzai rulers of Afghanistan promoted the idea of a Civic-Nation or Afghan Millat, by assimilating all the ethnic entities inhabiting Afghanistan in the political amalgamation of the “Afghan Millat”. The name of the “Afghan” which was historically used for the Pakhtuns only was hijacked from pakhtuns for the smooth political sailing of the Afghan rulers, for sinister political reasons.One of the scions of the Afghan dynasty, Amir Abdur Rahman got rid of his 35% territory and 40% staunch Pakhtun population for the sake of his rule. Now the constitution of Afghanistan defines “afghan” as a millat comprising of all the citizens of Afghanistan consisting of remaining Pakhtuns, Tajiks, Usbaks, Hazaras, Nooristanis, Emaqs, Turkamans etc, but excluding Yusufzais of Swat and Mardan, Mohammadzais of Charsadda, Khalil,Momand and Daudzais of Peshawar, Bangash,Orakzais of Kohat division, Shinwaris and Afridis of Khyber, Turklanris, Malizais of Bajawar and Dir, Ranizais and Shalmanis of Malakand, Wazirs and Masoods of Waziristan, Mandokhails, Achakzais and Kakars of Jonobi Pakhtunkhwa etc,etc. One wonders whether all these pure Pakhtun tribes have shed Pakhtunwali or “Afghaniat”, when a political jolt in Afghanistan disrobed them of a particular identity.

A noted Afghan poet Abdul Bari Jahani, feels pride in his well acclaimed lyrics sung by the legendary ustad Nashanas;

Ka Tajak dee ka Uzbak dee yao Afghan de
Da de Khawrey Hazara, Turkman Zma dee

Some of us are skeptical of this assimilation as it is fated to submerge the pakhtun majority culturally and ethnically. The minorities consisting of Tajiks ,the natives of Tajikistan who linguistically relate to Iran, Uzbaks relate to a central Isian republic of Uzbakistan and Hazaras, having religious ties with Iran ( and proven more loyal lot to Iran), have been very hostile to the pakhtuns as testified by the recent times and they have always raised a slogan of the “usurped nations” or (Millat-hae sitam deeda), cursing Pakhtuns on one pretext or another. The followers of Ahmad Shah Masood, Rasheed Dostam, Tahir Badakhshi, Bahruddin Baes, and ustad Rabbani have always stabbed pakhtuns in the back when they laid hands on any opportunity. The wrath of the savage squads of the Northern Alliance on the isolated pockets of the Pakhtun population is now a dark part of the history. All these hostile minorities are united in a confederacy of “Parsibans” against the pakhtuns, (like the Turks and Mongols founded a united Moghal confederacy to rule others). The former “Sazman-e-Inqilabi Zakhmat kashan-e-Afghanistan” (SAZA) and the leftist Parcham Party wielded venomous aspirations against pakhto and pakhtuns. The Tajik Babrak Karmal boasted to say, “whosoever who speaks to me in the language of Tarakai and Hafeezullah Ameen, is my sworn enemy”. These immigrants, who migrated with the armies of the Timurlane and the others belonging to the Turkish, Persian and Moghal origins, now have their high stakes of cultural supremacy in the realm of pakhtun majority. It is pity that the notorious Russian harbored war-lord Masoud has been declared as an Afghan National Hero, while the great Ahmad Shah Baba is being debased. The dismantling of Ahmad Shah Baba’s giant concrete portrait and the erection of Ahmad Shah Masoud’s similar giant portrait at Ghazi Stadium at Kabul speak volume of the value of real Afghan heroes in today’s Afghanistan.

King Zahir Shah declared Pashto language as a national language in the Constitution of Afghanistan during his monarchy but practically it remained a relegated, second rate and fast losing language in Afghanistan. The so-called Pakhtun rulers were destitute themselves in their own language. The Afghan bureaucracy neither speaks Pashto nor writes Pashto and it has practically adopted Dari as the only national language. They shamelessly call the Pakhtuns a “majority without culture’ (Aksariat-e- be farhang).This alarming situation can be palped from the fact that though pakhtuns constitutes 62.83% of the Afghanistan’s population, however only 40% rural population speaks Pashto.

The United Nations Information DATA presents gruesome statistics which states that the hegemonial Tajik group in Afghanistan has been swallowing 8% pashtuns in the linguistic and cultural quagmire.

An eminent pakhtun intellectual Dr. Mian Sohail Insha laments in his book, “Pukhtanee Qaumi Jorakht”( National Composition Of the Pakhtuns), “The term “Afghan” met with such a mockery that all the alien writers use this name for all the residents of Afghanistan but the minorities inside Afghanistan, like Hazzraz, Uzbaks, Tajaks etc use it only for the pakhtuns”. But, ironically the government of Afghanistan and more lamentably the Pakhtun intellegensia inside Afghanistan also use it for all the citizens of Afghanistan. One of the Five Stars of Afghan literature, Ustad Abdual Hai Habibi, has vehemently advocated the use of “Afghan” name for all the Afghanistanis in his pamphlet, “Afghan ao Afghanistan”. This scribe wonders whether Khushal Baba had girded his lions for the honor of the Tajiks, Uzbaks etc, when he said his famous verse;

“Da Afghan Pa Nang Me O Tarala Toora”

Some disgruntled Parsiban may turn around and accuse me of being a “Paki Fatan” who is on a “mission” to sow the seeds of discord amoung the “Afghans” but let me clarify the position in the first instance in an unambiguous terms. I do neither see any destiny for the pakhtuns in a punjabized Pakistan, nor in a persianized Afghanistan.

Punjabis and Parsibans are equal usurpers and persecutors of the Pakhtuns and therefore pakhtuns ought to get rid of the two obvious enemies. Pakhtuns have been a formidable nation and its destiny lies in its own state, Pakhtunistan, where Pakhtuns are ruled by the Pakhtuns for the Pakhto and the pakhtuns. (After all Afghanistan has never advocated the merger of its lost territories in itself in any forum and only has offered lip-service to the Pakhtunistan movement as an eye-wash).

Any appellation, which due to prevailing political expediency, does not discriminate a Pakhtun from a Punjabi and a Parsiban, does not suit a pakhtun and therefore I would prefer to be called a Pakhtun than an Afghan, although my revenue record still shows me as an Afghan . This plea gets its further impetus from the present political corruption of the previous historical meaning of the name “Afghan” (which only denoted Pakhtuns in each and every corner of the world). We are, now left with the stark and harsh fact that all Pakhtuns are Afghans but all Afghans are not Pakhtuns, why, then we should not cling to our own undisputed and long-rooted identity of being “Pakhtuns” and “ Pakhtuns “ alone. A Pakhtun remains a Pakhtun in Pakhtunkhwa, Afghanistan, Europe and America fearing no political syndrome and power gimmicks which can disrobe them of their true title of being a Pakhtun.

In the words of Dr. Mian Sohail Insha,“When we have our own original, etymological, archaeological and particular name, “Pakhtun/Pashtun”, then we should not value and endear the names (Afghan, Pathan, etc) granted to us by the aliens. It is not sagacious to adopt and accept these names advertently or inadvertently. In our territory Pakhtun is a major nation, whose language is Pashto, whose code of life is “Pakhtunwali” and whose country is ‘Pakhtunkhwa’”

Pukhtoona! Raasha tamashe laa zalmee jang jorawee
Da azaday pa dolay jang zalmee pa nang jorawee

Ahmad shah Baba remembers Hameed lodhi and Farid khan ( Sher shah Suri) and pleads the “pakhtuns” to show their skills of sword;

Da hameed Ao da Fareed dawar ba bya shee
Che pa Tooro “pukhtana” kra guzaroona

Source:http://www.pakhtun.com/i

Roshina
03-10-2010, 12:12 AM
Pakhtun = Pukhtun = Pashtun = Pushtun (in Pashto, Pukhtaana = Pashtaana).

"Afghan" was once synonymous to "Pashtun," but that's not really the case anymore today because the term "Afghan" has become more a political term than an ethnic one. Afghans today include the non-Pukhtuns living in Afghanistan, whereas Pukhtuns/Pashtuns means only Pukhtuns (or the Pukhtuns of Afghanistan as well).

"Pathan" is the name that invaders and other outsiders gave us. It also seems to be the name we're most known by -- and I prefer "Pashtun," damnit.

tor_khan
03-13-2010, 07:51 AM
Pakhtun = Pukhtun = Pashtun = Pushtun (in Pashto, Pukhtaana = Pashtaana).

"Afghan" was once synonymous to "Pashtun," but that's not really the case anymore today because the term "Afghan" has become more a political term than an ethnic one. Afghans today include the non-Pukhtuns living in Afghanistan, whereas Pukhtuns/Pashtuns means only Pukhtuns (or the Pukhtuns of Afghanistan as well).

"Pathan" is the name that invaders and other outsiders gave us. It also seems to be the name we're most known by -- and I prefer "Pashtun," damnit.

A Tajik friend of a friend blah, blah, blah, over a meal conversation referred to Afghans as Pashtoons. He didn't want the label Afghan as it was a Pashtoon label.

Funny thing that I distinctly remember was that it was a shared meal (we all took something) and the chicken shorwa I took had a slightly thicker consistency and he said - "that's Afghan", compared to his regular dose of chicken soup shorwa.

I'm sure it's not true cause I know many Pashtoons who cook runny chicken, but now I always think of Tajiks as eating chicken soup.

tor_khan
03-13-2010, 12:50 PM
^Well, we Afghan(Pashtuns) are famous for our Shorwas.

Shorwas are fine. I like them.

The friend of a friend etc. wanted it even thinner. He kind of wanted diluted chicken.

tor_khan
03-13-2010, 01:27 PM
^Where do you presently reside if you dont mind me asking?

I'm a world citizen - currently in the UAE - check out the intro of my blog ... musings from a distance ... (http://torkhan.blogspot.com/2009/02/pa-khair-raghley.html) for more background.

Marwat
03-13-2010, 01:29 PM
^ever since you joined here in PF I have been reading your blogs =X

tor_khan
03-13-2010, 01:55 PM
^ever since you joined here in PF I have been reading your blogs =X

Dera manana - please feel free to add your thoughts ...

Palwasha
03-13-2010, 02:18 PM
I'm a world citizen - currently in the UAE - check out the intro of my blog ... musings from a distance ... (http://torkhan.blogspot.com/2009/02/pa-khair-raghley.html) for more background.

I've read you're blog and MashAllah it's great, but I haven't read the intro before. Yay for Yorkshire!

tor_khan
03-13-2010, 02:44 PM
I've read you're blog and MashAllah it's great, but I haven't read the intro before. Yay for Yorkshire!

Humble beginnings ...

Palwasha
03-13-2010, 02:47 PM
Do you miss it at all wrora, Yorkshire I mean..?

Master Khan
03-13-2010, 02:50 PM
they should be teaching this in NWFP and FATA Schools in Pakistan..but they are not

tor_khan
03-13-2010, 03:46 PM
Do you miss it at all wrora, Yorkshire I mean..?

Yorkshire ... You mean factory chimney's spewing out fumes, cobble-stone roads, little scruffy street urchins running around with coal-marked pink faces, split shoes and knicker-bocker trousers? Rows and rows of terrace houses, with Mavises and Betties, loose stockings, rollers and cap and broomsticks? Corned-beef sandwiches, packed in your lunch and Hovis bread?

Actually, I jest of course - that used to be what Yorkshire was like.

Nowadays its Kashmiri youth with iphones, sports cars and stretch limos that are paid for in cash. It's amazing what you can buy with your Saturday job money ... That and erm ... white trash who live on council estates with their rainbow children.

Do I miss Yorkshire? Quite honestly ... no ...

I love the countryside, mind. It's beautful, but the day-to-day grind, the wonderful grey weather and constant spitting rain, those long faces at the bus stops and the queues at the post office. No. The world isn't perfect; that you learn very quickly, but there's a whole world of travel experiences waiting ... there are so many wonderful places to see and without compromising your beliefs and culture, it's important to go out and see how other people live.

Palwasha
03-13-2010, 05:50 PM
Do you miss it at all wrora, Yorkshire I mean..?

Nowadays its Kashmiri youth with iphones, sports cars and stretch limos that are paid for in cash. It's amazing what you can buy with your Saturday job money ... That and erm ... white trash who live on council estates with their rainbow children.

I love the countryside, mind. It's beautful, but the day-to-day grind, the wonderful grey weather and constant spitting rain, those long faces at the bus stops and the queues at the post office. No. The world isn't perfect; that you learn very quickly, but there's a whole world of travel experiences waiting ... there are so many wonderful places to see and without compromising your beliefs and culture, it's important to go out and see how other people live.

I always enjoy reading what you have to say.

Yeah well that's Bradford for you, guess it depends on where in Yorkshire you live. ;)

I absolutely love it in summer...but you're right with the travel experiences, I've only done a fair bit and I've seen what the UAE has to offer, can't wait to see more the World InshAllah; I have a *huge* list of places I desire to visit.

You're very lucky MashAllah with the travelling you have already done.

(So sorry for the topic change)

Zulmay
03-13-2010, 11:18 PM
Good read

tor_khan
03-14-2010, 05:10 AM
I always enjoy reading what you have to say.

Dera Manana Khaney. ;)