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Millatpal Noorzai
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Default Pashtunwali*****پښتونولی - 08-26-2010, 04:55 PM

Pashtunwali


Pashtunwali literally means the way of the Pashtuns, it’s the rules and regulations and laws of the Pashtun tribes which protected the world’s biggest tribal society. These rules are responsible for the survival of the Pashtun tribes for over 2000 years. Some of the rules go back to the days of Adam and eve and are still puritan today

NANEWATEI: Under Nanewatei a penitent enemy is forgiven and the feuding factions resume peaceful and friendly relations. Thus it creates a congenial atmosphere for peaceful co-existence and mutual understanding through eventual reconciliation.

TEEGA OR KANRAY: Teega or Kanray is cessation of bloodshed between contending parties. Teega (putting down of a stone) in other words means a temporary truce declared by a Jirga. The word stone is used figuratively as actually no stone is put at the time of the cessation of hostilities. Once the truce is enforced, no party dares violate it for fear of punitive measures.

BADAL: (Eye for an Eye) Self-respect and sensitivity to insult is another essential trait of Pashtun character. The poorest among them has his own sense of dignity and honor and he vehemently refuses to submit to any insult. In fact every Pashtun considers himself equal if not better than his fellow tribesmen and an insult is, therefore, taken as scurrilous reflection on his character. An insult is sure to evoke insult and murder is likely to lead to a murder.

MELMASTIA: Pashtun have been described as one of the most hospitable peoples of the world. They consider Melmastia or generous hospitality as one of the finest virtues and greet their guest warmly with a broad smile on their faces. A Pashtun feels delighted to receive a guest regardless of his past relations or acquaintance and prepares a delicious meal for him and offers up to their ability the finest meals available to them.

TOR: Pashtuns are sensitive about the honor of their women folk and slight touching of the women is at times considered a serious and an intolerable offence. The cases of adultery and illicit relations are put down with iron hand in and no quarter is given to culprits either male or female. Casting of an evil eye on woman is tantamount to imperil one's life. Both sexes, therefore, scrupulously avoid indulgence in immoral practices.

GHUNDI: Ghundi is a classic case of balance of power in tribal areas. It is derived from Pashto word Ghund, meaning a political party but it is used for an alliance. As modern states enter into bilateral agreements for promotion of trade, cultivation of friendly relations and mutual defense, similarly various sections of a tribe align themselves in blocs or Ghunds to safeguard their common interests. Ghundi is entered into defeat the aggressive and nefarious designs of a hostile neighbor. In tribal fighting the Ghundi members espouse their mutual interests against their common enemy and act as a corporate body with all the resources at their command.

LOKHAY WARKAWAL: Lokhay Warkawal literally means `giving of a pot' but it implies the protection of an individual or a tribe. A weaker tribe to a stronger one with the object of ensuring its safety and security generally gives Lokhay. It is accepted in the form of a sacrificial animal such as a goat or a sheep. When a tribe accepts a Lokhay from another tribe, it undertakes the responsibility of safeguarding the latter's interests against its enemies and protects it at all costs.

LASHKAR: Lashkar is an armed party, which goes out from a village or tribe for warlike purposes. The Lashkar may consist of a hundred to several thousand men. The Lashkar assembled for Jihad (Holy Struggle) is usually very large. The decisions of a Jirga, if violated by a party, are enforced through a tribal Lashkar. The Lashkar thus performs the functions of police in the event of a breach of tribal law.

CHIGHA: Chigha means a pursuit party. The Chigha party is formed or taken out in case armed bandits with the object of lifting cattle, looting property or abducting an inmate of the village, raid a village. Composed of armed persons, the Chigha party goes in pursuit of the raiders to affect the release of the cattle etc or recover the stolen property.

TARR: A mutual accord between two tribes or villagers themselves with regard to a certain matter is called Tarr. For instance, after sowing wheat or any other crop, the people of the village agree not to let loose their cattle to graze in the fields and thus damage the crop. The man whose cattle are found grazing in the fields in violation of this agreement has no right to claim compensation for an injury caused to his cattle by the owner of the field.

MLA TARR: Mla Tarr, which literally means `girding up of loins' denotes two things. Firstly it is used for all such members of a family who are capable of carrying and using firearms. Secondly, it means espousing the cause of a man against his enemies and providing him with an armed party. The tribesmen resort to Mla Tarr when a person belonging to their village or tribe is attacked, mal-treated or disgraced by their enemies.

BADRAGHA: An armed party escorting a fugitive or a visitor to his destination is called Badragha. Badragha is a guarantee for the safety of a man who is either hotly pursued by his enemies or there is an apprehension of his being killed on his way home. An armed party accompanies such a man as Badragha or `escort' to ensure his safe return to the place of his abode. Badragha is never attacked by the second party because of fear of reprisals and the blood feud that is sure to follow if an attack is made on it. The Badragha convoy can be depended upon only within its own geographical limits; beyond it, the people of other tribes take the charge to convoy the traveler.

BILGA: The word Bilga is used for stolen property. A man is held responsible for theft or burglary if any of the stolen articles are recovered from his house. In such a case he is obliged to make good the loss sustained by the afflicted person. He, however, stands absolved of Bilga if he discloses the source or the persons from whom he had purchased the stolen articles.

BOTA: Bota means carrying away. It is a sort of retaliatory action against an aggressor. For instance, if a creditor fails to recover his debt from the debtor, he resorts to Bota by seizing his cattle or one of his kith and kin. The creditor keeps them as hostages till his dues are fully realized or the debtor has furnished a security to make payment within a specified period to the creditor.

BARAMTA: Baramta like Bota is resorted to when the grievances of a party are not redressed or a debtor adopts delaying tactics in respect of payment of a debt to the creditor. The word Baramta is derived from Persian word Baramad, which means recovery or restitution of property etc. Under Baramta hostages are held to ransom till the accused returns the claimed property. The Pashtuns consider it an act against their sense of honor and contrary to the principles of Pashtunwali to lay their hands on dependent classes such as blacksmiths, tailors, barbers and butchers etc belonging to the debtor's village.

BALANDRA OR ASHAR: Balandra or Ashar can be best described as a village aid program under which a particular task is accomplished on the basis of mutual cooperation and assistance. At the time of sowing or harvesting, the villagers lend a helping hand to the man who seeks their help. They take out their pair of bullocks to plough his fields at sowing time and assist him in reaping his crops at the time of harvest. The man, thus obliged, by the fellow villagers holds a feast in their honor in the evening.

MEERATA: Meerata means complete annihilation of the male members of a family by brutal assassination. This is not a custom but a criminal act. Under Meerata, the stronger member of family used to assassinate their weak but near relatives with the sole object of removing them from the line of inheritance and gaining forcible possession of their lands, houses and other property. The tribal law seriously views this kind of cold-blooded murder and persons responsible for such an inhumane and ghastly act cannot escape the wrath of Pashtuns. The Jirga immediately assembles to take suitable action against the culprits. The penalty is usually in the form of setting on fire their houses and other property and expulsion of the culprits from their area.

SAZ: The word Saz is used for blood money or compensation in lieu of killing. Under the custom of Saz a person who feels penitent after committing a deliberate murder, approaches the deceased's family through a Jirga and offers to make payment of blood money to end enmity between them. All hostilities come to an end between the parties after acceptance of Saz. Sometimes the payment of compensation takes the form of giving a girl in marriage to the aggrieved party. It is also called Swarah, which binds together the two parties in blood relations and thus helps in eradicating ill will and feelings of enmity.

ITBAR: Itbar, which means trust, or guaranteed assurance or is the arch of society, which is governed by un-written laws or conventions. All business including contracts relating to sale and mortgage or disposal of property, is transacted on the basis of trust or Itbar. Such transactions are verbal and are entered into in the presence of the village elders or a few witnesses. The violation of Itbar is considered to be dishonorable act, un-becoming of gentleman and contrary to the norms of Pashtunwali.

HAMSAYA: The word Hamsaya stands for a neighbor but in Pashto it applies to a man who abandons his home either due to poverty or blood feud and seeks protection of an elder of another village. In this way the latter becomes his client or vassal. It is, therefore, incumbent upon the protector to save his Hamsaya from insult or injury from any source.

Last edited by Millatpal Noorzai; 08-26-2010 at 05:00 PM.
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Default 08-26-2010, 05:15 PM

Thanx for sharing Millatpal!
Yet there is some misunderstanding regarding the " corrupted traits" which people mistake for Pashtunwali.It is like " Biddat", which has mutialated Islam, can not be called Islam. People on this forum, are erred to consider, for example that Swara or Walwaar also stem out from Pashtunwali.In fact these and other such later entrants in Pashtunwali, are late fabrications in Pashtunwali, which are not in resonance with true Pashtunwali.We should pin point such immoral and farce traits under this Thread, which are generally mistaken for Pashtunwali. Giving hand of one's sister or daughter in wedding for money, is another shameful act, which is repugnant to true Pashtunwali.
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Default 08-26-2010, 08:39 PM

Yousafzaya i am glad you brought "Walwar" up,i couldn't have explained it better.

Giving a sister or daughter as an exchange for another woman is called "Mukhai" in Kandhar and surrounding provinces,which as you said is also a shameful practice.
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Default 08-26-2010, 08:55 PM

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Originally Posted by Jasmine View Post
Millatpal how active is that process?
The practice of Mukhai is not as much in practice as it used to be but in rural parts of Afghanistan and Pashtunkhwa,it still exists.

Another shameful custom that we had adapted over the years was giving away a woman in Nikaah to settle a dispute of murder or debt.

If A would kill B and the B side would vow to kill A and avenge the murder,the A side would then give one of their unmarried woman in a Nikah to one of B's brother or cousin for the settlement of dispute.

Taliban officially banned this practice in Afghanistan and some parts of Pashtunkhwa (FATA) during their reign which proved to be a good initiative and the centuries long practice is dimming day by day.
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Default 08-26-2010, 10:28 PM

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Originally Posted by Millatpal Noorzai View Post
The practice of Mukhai is not as much in practice as it used to be but in rural parts of Afghanistan and Pashtunkhwa,it still exists.

Another shameful custom that we had adapted over the years was giving away a woman in Nikaah to settle a dispute of murder or debt.

If A would kill B and the B side would vow to kill A and avenge the murder,the A side would then give one of their unmarried woman in a Nikah to one of B's brother or cousin for the settlement of dispute.

Taliban officially banned this practice in Afghanistan and some parts of Pashtunkhwa (FATA) during their reign which proved to be a good initiative and the centuries long practice is dimming day by day.
I know it has been practiced by a few Laghmanis and Paktiawals.

One man from one tribe killed another man from another tribe. In order for the tribes not to fight and to settle the dispute, the man's family that committed the murder, gives a daughter/sister away to that other family, brother or cousin.
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Default 08-26-2010, 11:02 PM

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Originally Posted by Laila View Post
I know it has been practiced by a few Laghmanis and Paktiawals.

One man from one tribe killed another man from another tribe. In order for the tribes not to fight and to settle the dispute, the man's family that committed the murder, gives a daughter/sister away to that other family, brother or cousin.
Thats the run of the mill swara...terrible terrible custom. Not because they are settling disputes, but what happens to the girl when she is married. The males and the females in the family take out their anger on her. Sakth zulmm. It should be eradicated entirely along with walwar.
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Default 08-27-2010, 12:57 AM

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Originally Posted by BLS_1919v2.0 View Post
Thats the run of the mill swara...terrible terrible custom. Not because they are settling disputes, but what happens to the girl when she is married. The males and the females in the family take out their anger on her. Sakth zulmm. It should be eradicated entirely along with walwar.
Yes. I agree. The lady from Paktia whom i know happened to her. She does not have much of a relationship with her husband. She was 13 years old when she was given away. Her elder brother had killed another man from another village. In order to settle the dispute, he gave his sister away to the dead mans brother.

She didnt have a bad marriage, its just hard to think about an innocent young girl has been given away to a random guy just because her brother committed something on his part.

In this practice, how in pashtunwali families have ghairat and namoos towards their females....so where is the honor in this?

I totally hate this practice, i despise it. I am not sure if today it is commonly practiced or not. It may not be common in the cities, but in rural areas where many people are besawad and have been led to desperate measures. I know it has happened in Laghman so many times, within my relatives.
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Default 08-27-2010, 02:35 PM

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Originally Posted by rihana View Post
So since the Taliban have left the ban has been lifted up?
People just don't practice it anymore,haven't heard of one in a long time,even though i belong to a rural family.
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Default 08-27-2010, 02:43 PM

At the end of the Day we can reform Pashtunwali to suit the modern era.
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Default 08-27-2010, 05:03 PM

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Originally Posted by Laila View Post
Yes. I agree. The lady from Paktia whom i know happened to her. She does not have much of a relationship with her husband. She was 13 years old when she was given away. Her elder brother had killed another man from another village. In order to settle the dispute, he gave his sister away to the dead mans brother.

She didnt have a bad marriage, its just hard to think about an innocent young girl has been given away to a random guy just because her brother committed something on his part.

In this practice, how in pashtunwali families have ghairat and namoos towards their females....so where is the honor in this?

I totally hate this practice, i despise it. I am not sure if today it is commonly practiced or not. It may not be common in the cities, but in rural areas where many people are besawad and have been led to desperate measures. I know it has happened in Laghman so many times, within my relatives.
The logic is that the marriage brings families closer together you know an alternative to settle disputes that go on for a long long time. The tragedy of it is that instead of bridging gaps, they take it out on the lady. It is one of those weird contradictions.
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