Pashtunwali (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
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 Pashtun-dominated
Pashtunwali was practiced throughout the Islamic Emirate of
Afghanistan in conjunction with the Taliban's interpretation of
1.1 Main principles
2 See also
4 External links
Further information: Pashtun people
The native 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 Pashtunization.
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
— Abdur, A character in Morgen's War
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 Valley")
From left to right: Jamaluddin Badar, Nuristan governor, Fazlullah
Wahidi, Kunar governor, Gul Agha Sherzai, Nangarhar governor, and
Lutfullah Mashal, Langhman governor, listen to speakers during the
Jirga to talk about peace, prosperity and the
rehabilitation of Afghanistan.
Hamid Karzai appointed as President of the Afghan Transitional
Administration at the July 2002 Loya
Jirga in 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
Pashtuns will go to great lengths to show their
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
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
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 Pashtunwali.
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
Pat, Wyaar aw Meṛaana (respect, pride and courage) -
demonstrate courage [مېړانه]. Their pride [وياړ], 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
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" [هڅوب], countrymen or "hewaadwaal" [هيوادوال],
and of the self or "źaan" [ځان]. This principle is also
interconnected to another principle denoting the attachment a Pashtun
feels with his land or źmaka [ځمکه].
^ "Ethnic Groups". Library of Congress Country Studies. 1997.
^ "The People - The Pashtuns".
Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL).
June 30, 2002. Archived from the original on January 27, 2010.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k Banting, Erinn (2003).
Afghanistan the 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.
^ "Why are Customary Pashtun Laws and Ethics Causes for Concern?".
Archived from the original on 21 October 2014. Retrieved 15 October
Deobandi Islam: The Religion of the
Taliban U. S. Navy Chaplain
Corps, 15 October 2001
^ Shane, Scott (December 5, 2009). "The War in Pashtunistan". 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.
History of Herodotus Chapter 7". Translated by George
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.
^ Zulfacar, Maliha (1998). Afghan Immigrants in the USA and Germany: A
Comparative Analysis of the Use of Ethnic Social Capital. Kulturelle
Identitat und politische Selbstbestimmung in der Weltgesellschaft. LIT
Verlag. p. 33. ISBN 9783825836504.
^ "Afghan and Afghanistan". Abdul Hai Habibi. alamahabibi.com. 1969.
^ Yassari, Nadjma (2005). The Sharīʻa in the Constitutions of
Afghanistan, Iran, and Egypt. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. p. 49.
^ Leonard Schonberg, Morgen's War (2005) p. 218.
^ Schultheis, Rob (2008). Hunting Bin Laden: How Al-Qaeda Is Winning
the War on Terror. New York: Skyhorse. p. 14.
^ Hussain, Rizwan (2005).
Pakistan and the Emergence of Islamic
Militancy in Afghanistan. Aldershot: Ashgate. p. 221.
^ "Pakhtunwali from Wiki". Archived from the original on 6 October
2014. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
Pashtunwali by Wahid Momand
Special report on
Pashtunwali by U.S. Army Major, John H. Cathell
Law School - Tribal
Pashtunwali and Women’s
The Economist - The Pushtuns' tribal code
Pashto Language & Identity Formation in Pakistan
Sher Shah Suri
Ahmad Shah Khan
Ahmad Shah Durrani
Dost Mohammad Khan
Malalai of Maiwand
Abdur Rahman Khan
Mohammed Nadir Shah
Abdul Samad Khan Achakzai
Abdul Ahad Mohmand
Ghulam Ishaq Khan
Asfandyar Wali Khan
Mohammad Ashraf Ghani
Abdur Rab Nishtar
Abdul Waheed Kakar
Ayub Khan (President of Pakistan)
Karnal Sher Khan
Adam Khan and Durkhanai
Yusuf Khan and Sherbano
Amir Kror Suri
Abdul Hamid Baba
Ahmad Shah Durrani
Names of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
First Battle of Panipat
Battle of Gulnabad
Third Battle of Panipat
Battle of Attock
Battle of Multan
Battle of Shopian
Battle of Nowshera
Battle of Jamrud
Siege of Malakand
Battle of Maiwand
Battle of Saragarhi
War in North-West Pakistan
War in Afghanista