Pashto : پښتونوالی) or PAKHTUNWALI is a
non-written ethical code and traditional lifestyle which the
Pashtun people follow. It is a system of law and
governance that is preserved and still in use today, mostly in the
rural tribal areas. Its meaning may also be interpreted as "the way of
the Pashtuns" or "the code of life".
Pashtunwali is widely practiced
among Pashtuns, especially among the non-urbanized Pashtuns in the
countryside. In addition to being practiced by members of the Pashtun
diaspora , it has been adopted by some non-Pashtun Afghans and
Pakistanis that live in the Pashtun regions or close to the Pashtuns,
who have gradually become Pashtunized over time. During the
Pashtunwali was practiced throughout
Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in conjunction with the Taliban's
* 1 Overview
* 1.1 Main principles
* 2 See also
* 3 References
* 4 External links
Pashtun tribes , often described as fiercely independent
people, have inhabited the
Pashtunistan region (eastern Afghanistan
and north western
Pakistan ) since at least the 1st millennium BC.
During that period, much of their mountainous territory has remained
outside government rule or control. This is perhaps the main reason
why indigenous Pashtuns still follow Pashtunwali, which is a basic
common law of the land or "code of life".
Pashtunwali rules are accepted in
Pakistan (mainly in
and around the
Pashtunistan region), and also in some Pashtun
communities around the world. Some non-Pashtun Afghans and others have
also adopted its ideology or practices for their own benefit.
Conversely, many urbanized Pashtuns tend to ignore the rules of
Pashtunwali. Passed on from generation to generation, Pashtunwali
guides both individual and communal conduct. Practiced by the majority
of Pashtuns, it helps to promote
Ideal Pukhtun behaviour approximates the features Pukhtunwali, the
code of the Pukhtuns, which includes the following traditional
features: courage (tora), revenge (badal), hospitality (melmestia),
generosity to a defeated... — Maliha Zulfacar, 1999
Pashtuns embrace an ancient traditional, spiritual , and communal
identity tied to a set of moral codes and rules of behaviour, as well
as to a record of history spanning some seventeen hundred years.
Pashtunwali promotes self-respect , independence , justice ,
hospitality , love , forgiveness , revenge and tolerance toward all
(especially to strangers or guests). It is considered to be the
personal responsibility of every Pashtun to discover and rediscover
Pashtunwali's essence and meaning.
It is the way of the Pathans . We have melmestia, being a good host,
nanawatai, giving asylum, and badal, vengeance. Pashtuns live by these
things. — Abdur, A character in Morgen's War The Pathan
tribes are always engaged in private or public war. Every man is a
warrior, a politician and a theologian. Every large house is a real
feudal fortress....Every family cultivates its vendetta; every clan,
its feud.... Nothing is ever forgotten and very few debts are left
unpaid. Winston Churchill (My Early Life - Chapter 11: The Mahmund
From left to right:
Jamaluddin Badar , Nuristan governor,
Fazlullah Wahidi , Kunar governor,
Gul Agha Sherzai , Nangarhar
Lutfullah Mashal , Langhman governor, listen to speakers
during the first regional
Jirga to talk about peace , prosperity and
the rehabilitation of
Hamid Karzai appointed as
President of the Afghan Transitional Administration at the July 2002
Kabul , Afghanistan.
Although not exclusive, the following eleven principles form the
major components of Pashtunwali. They are headed with the words of the
Pashto language that signify individual or collective Pashtun tribal
* MELMASTIA (HOSPITALITY) - Showing hospitality and profound respect
to all visitors, regardless of race, religion, national affiliation or
economic status and doing so without any hope of remuneration or
favor. Pashtuns will go to great lengths to show their hospitality.
* NANAWATAI (FORGIVENESS OR ASYLUM) - Derived from the verb meaning
to go in, this refers to the protection given to a person against his
enemies. People are protected at all costs; even those running from
the law must be given refuge until the situation can be clarified.
Nanawatai can also be used when the vanquished party in a dispute is
prepared to go into the house of the victors and ask for their
forgiveness: this is a peculiar form of "chivalrous" surrender, in
which an enemy seeks "sanctuary" at the house of their foe. A notable
example is that of Navy Petty Officer First Class
Marcus Luttrell ,
the sole survivor of a
US Navy SEAL team ambushed by
Wounded, he evaded the enemy and was aided by members of the Sabray
tribe who took him to their village. The tribal chief protected him,
fending off attacking tribes until word was sent to nearby US forces.
* NYAW AW BADAL (JUSTICE AND REVENGE) - To seek justice or take
revenge against the wrongdoer. No time limit restricts the period in
which revenge can be taken.
Justice in Pashtun lore needs elaborating:
even a mere taunt (or "Peghor/پېغور") counts as an insult which
usually can only be redressed by shedding the taunter's blood. If he
is out of reach, his closest male relation must suffer the penalty
instead. Badal may lead to blood feuds that can last generations and
involve whole tribes with the loss of hundreds of lives. Normally
blood feuds in this male-dominated society are settled in a number of
* TURAH (BRAVERY) - A Pashtun must defend his land, property, and
family from incursions. He should always stand bravely against tyranny
and be able to defend the honour of his name. Death can follow if
anyone offends this principle.
* SABAT (LOYALTY) - Pashtuns owe loyalty to their family, friends
and tribe members. Pashtuns can never become disloyal as this would be
a matter of shame for their families and themselves.
* KHEGAṛA / SHEGAṛA (RIGHTEOUSNESS) - A Pashtun must always
strive for good in thought, word, and deed. Pashtuns must behave
respectfully to people, to animals, and to the environment around
them. Pollution of the environment or its destruction is against the
* GROH (FAITH) - Contains a wider notion of trust or faith in God
(known as "
Allah " in Arabic and "Khudai" in Pashto). The notion of
trusting in one Creator generally comports to the Islamic idea of
belief in only one
God (tawhid ).
* PAT, WYAAR AW MEṛAANA (RESPECT, PRIDE AND COURAGE) - Pashtuns
must demonstrate courage . Their pride , has great importance in
Pashtun society and must be preserved. They must respect themselves
and others in order to be able to do so, especially those they do not
know. Respect begins at home, among family members and relatives. If
one does not have these qualities they are not considered worthy of
being a Pashtun.
* NAAMUS (PROTECTION OF WOMEN) - A Pashtun must defend the honor of
women at all costs and must protect them from vocal and physical harm.
* NANG (HONOR) - A Pashtun must defend the weak around him.
* HEWAAD (COUNTRY) - A Pashtun is obliged to protect the land of the
Pashtuns. Defense of the nation means the defense of Pashtun culture
or "haśob" , countrymen or "hewaadwaal" , and of the self or "źaan"
. This principle is also interconnected to another principle denoting
the attachment a Pashtun feels with his land or źmaka .
* Culture portal
* ^ "Ethnic Groups".
Library of Congress Country Studies . 1997.
* ^ menl#1 "The People - The Pashtuns" Check url= value (help ).
Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL). June 30, 2002. Retrieved
* ^ A B C D E F G H I J K Banting, Erinn (2003).
People. Crabtree Publishing Company. p. 14. ISBN 0-7787-9335-4 .
* ^ Robert M Cassidy (2012). War, Will, and Warlords. Marine Corps
University Press. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-16-090300-7 .
* ^ Rashid,
* ^ "Why are Customary Pashtun Laws and Ethics Causes for
Concern?". Retrieved 15 October 2014.
Deobandi Islam: The Religion of the
Taliban U. S. Navy Chaplain
Corps, 15 October 2001
* ^ Shane, Scott (December 5, 2009). "The War in Pashtunistan".
Abdul Hai Habibi
Abdul Hai Habibi .
The New York Times
The New York Times . Retrieved 2010-10-29.
* ^ Nath, Samir (2002). Dictionary of Vedanta. Sarup & Sons. p.
273. ISBN 81-7890-056-4 . Retrieved 2010-09-10.
* ^ "The
History of Herodotus Chapter 7". Translated by George
Rawlinson . The
History Files. 440 BC. Retrieved 2007-01-10. Check
date values in: date= (help )
* ^ Houtsma, Martijn Theodoor (1987). E.J. Brill\'s first
encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913-1936. 2. BRILL. p. 150. ISBN
90-04-08265-4 . Retrieved 2010-09-24.
* ^ Zulfacar, Maliha (1998). Afghan Immigrants in the USA and
Germany: A Comparative Analysis of the Use of Ethnic Social Capital.