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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Pukhto: A Code of Honour
The history of the North West Frontier of Pakistan, particularly the
Federally Administered Tribal Areas is full of romance and glorious
adventures and numerous legends are woven around the character of its
inhabitants. This land of patriotic, virile and hardy mountaineers
stood witness to countless historic events. It saw the caravans of
invaders passing through the mountains and celebrated passes on their
way to the rich and fertile plains of the South £sian sub­continent.
It witnessed the march of renowned conquerors and soldiers of
fortune, viewed with interest the progidies of valour and feats of
bravery and above all scenes of spirited battles. This part of
Pakistan had, perhaps, been involved in more foreign invasions than
any country of the world. Its charming valleys were echoing with the
cries of war and are still vibrating with the thuds of the horses of
Alexander, Mahmud, the idol breaker and other famous captains who
made this area their base of operations against the rulers of India .

The tribal area comprising the territories lying between the
administered districts of NWFP and the 'Ourand Line' is spread over
an area of 10510 square miles. In this mountainous tract live
25,07,000 sturdy, well built and self reliant Pathans who prefer to
be called Pukhtouns.

Tribal area, partly a land of dry ravines and rocky hills and partly
consisting of green plateaus, enchanting valleys and picturesque
landscape is full of natural beauty. At places the rugged hills,-
gushing streams, green fields and clusters of fortified hamlets among
the glens and dales present a fine and peculiarly attractive scenery.
The lush green valleys of Kurram Agency; the smiling dales of Bajaur
Agency; the picturesque valleys of North and South Waziristan
Agencies and heart-captivating scenery, lofty pine trees, groves and
patches of green fields of Tirah and Qrakzai Agency present, happly,
a scene unrivalled anywhere. Tirah, the queen of the Khyber Agency,
described as "Garden of Eden" can be compared to Switzerland and the
Kurram Agency can favourably compete with Kashmir in beauty and
scenic grandeur. A romantic halo, in short, surrounds this much-
talked but less understood area. These lovely hills and dales of
tourist attraction have not yet been fully opened up for tourists.

The historic Khyber Pass and the craftsmanship of the un-educated
tribesmen working in the arms manufacturing factories of Dara Adam
Khel ( Kohat Pass ), Illam Godar (Khyber Agency) and Kaniguram (South
Waziristan Agency) further add to the splendour of the tribal belt.

It is a tangle of difficult mountains intersected by long narrow
valleys, innumerable gorges and torrent beds interspersed with
patches of cultivable land. This huge mass of mountains varies in
elevation from 5,000 to 15,000 feet. The highest is the Sika Ram peak
in Sufaid Koh range which is 15,620 feet above the sea level.

The climatic conditions of the region vary from extreme cold in the
snow-clad mountains to hot and sultry in the plains. The rain-fall is
scanty, varying from 60 inches in the hills to 15 inches or less in
the plains in a year.

PASSES: The Khyber, the Nawa and the Gomal are the most important
passes of this mountainous region which provided communication
between the South Asian Sub-Continent and Central Asia , even in the
distant past. These passes, particularly Khyber, stand testimony to
countless events in the history of mankind and watched with great
interest the march of the Aryans descending on the fertile plains of
the Sub-Continent. Successive waves of Persians, Greeks, Bactrians,
Scythians, White Huns, Kushans, Mongols, Turks and Mughals rode
through these passes and changed the course of history in this part
of the world.

The Persian explorers and adventurers under Darius and the Greek
conquerors under Alexander the Great, passed through these passes
with an ambition to conquer the land known as "Repository of gold"
and thus assuage their thirst for gold and conquest. Free hooters
from Central Asia made use of these gate-ways, particularly the
Khyber Pass , to satisfy their lust for fame, wealth and power.
Muslim conquerors like the famous Mahmud of Ghazna, Shahabud Din
Mohammad Ghori and Zaheerud Din Babar traversed the celebrated Khyber
Pass several times which ultimately resulted in the setting up of a
mighty Muslim Empire in India.

The historic Khyber Pass which holds some of the most checqered and
fascinating romances of the past stands out prominently in recorded
history. Around its name gleams a halo un-rivalled in the history of
mankind. No othei pass in the world has, perhaps, enjoyed such
strategic importance and historic association.

there are three roads in the Khyber Pass , including the old caravan
route for mules and camels, the fascinating zig-zag road with many
bends and curves for vehicular traffic and the well engineered
railway extension, completed in 1925. The Railway line, considered to
be a feat of modern engineering, threads its circuitous way through
34 tunnels before terminating at Landi Khana, the last Railway
Station near the Pak Afghan border at Torkham.

The ancient caravan route of the Khyber Pass has been a passage of
destiny since times immemorial. Kings and conquerors troded this
route through the centuries and trade between the South Asian Sub-
Continent and Central Asia was carried on through it. Such, in short,
is the splendour of this gate-way to South Asia which is inhabited by
Afridis and Shinwaris, Wardens of the Marches of the North West
Frontier of Pakistan.

HOUSES: The Pukhtoons live in fortified villages and hamlets. Their
houses, in a village, lie close together in a compact block, only
streets separating them into Mahlats (Muhallahs). Usually made of
clay, wood and stone, the houses consist of two or three rooms with
no windows or ventilators (for security reasons), a courtyard
called "Gholay" and a Veranda. A Tanoor (Oven) for baking loaves, a
matting corn bin for storage of grains, a cattle pen or an enclosure
made of bushes called 'Shpol' for cattle and a hand mill
called 'Maichan' can also be seen in most of the houses. Every house
is thus built to shelter the family, cattle and poultry alike. The
outer sides of the walls of the houses are generally used for
plastering cow dung cakes for drying, which are used as fuel. The
charpaee (bedstead) is the most familiar piece of furniture in a
house for sleeping and for sitting.

Houses are decorated in oriental fashion and a clay shelf about three
feet high and two feet wide is constructed inside a residential room
for keeping crockery etc. Tables and chairs are also vised in the
houses of well-to-do families.

The tribal life has undergone a change since Independence . Blood
feuds and tribal hostilities have largely ceased to exist and
tranquil conditions prevail which have greatly benefited the
tribesmen. The comparatively peaceful conditions have ushered in an
era of peace, progress and prosperity and changed the face of the
hills and valleys. The old mud houses are now being replaced by pucca
houses with proper ventilation and other hygienic requirements.

FOOD: The food of an average Pukhtoon is simple. He has two principal
meals a day, taking lunch between 11 and 12 0' clock and supper at
sun-set. It consists of whole-meal bread called 'Dodai' or 'Teekala',
vegetables and meat. Bread is usually made of wheat or maize flour.
It is baked in an oven called 'Tanoor' or made into a loaf on a flat
iron pan called 'Tabakhay' or 'Taighna'.

Wheat is the staple food grain and it is in common use but maize is
also consumed, mostly by the poor in winter. The use of forks and
knives is alien to their nature and they partake of their meal with
the right hand,

Pukhtoons are fond of Chapli Kabab and Pullao is considered essential
on festive occasions. Supping Qahwa after delicious meal is also

The diet and other habits of the Pukhtoons are changing due to the
spread of education, rise in living standards and constant contacts
with the people of

urban areas. Now dinner and tea sets, chairs and tables have found
their way

into the houses of the well-off tribesmen.

AGRICULTURE: Agriculture is the main occupation of the tribesmen and
they support themselves by extensive cultivation of their lands in
the plains, river beds and mountain. It is supplemented by cattle
breeding. Incidentally Waziristan is famous for Sheep breeding. Wheat
and maize are the two principal crops but paddy, barley, mustard and
even poppies are grown as alternative crops. Cultivation is done by
conventional methods. Oxen are generally used for agricultural
purposes in the plough, thrashing ground and sometimes used as beasts
of burden.

Fruits are found in abundance and vegetables are also grown. The
Golden Delicious variety of apples of the Kurram Agency are well
known for their flavour and sweetness. Malakand Agency is famous for
its highly prized Malta and North and South Waziristan are known for
the good quality of plums and pine kernels (Chalghozas). Apricots,
pears, peaches, pomegranates and valnut trees are also grown in
Kurram, Tirah and other fertile tracts of the tribal areas.

The tribal area is rich in forest wealth. Timber is available in
abundance as Ilex, pine, deodar and the edible blue pines grow on the
mountains with altitude above 6,000 feet. The inner hills are thickly
wooded with olive, sloe gurgura and wild bushes like mazri which is
used for making bedsteads, mats, chaplis and baskets.

Since Independence there has been a steady increase in the cultivated
area. A great deal has been done to bring more and more land under
cultivation and a let more is in the process of accomplishment to
make the tribal area self sufficient in food.

ADMINISTRATION: The Federally Administered Tribal Areas are divided
into the following units:-

(i) Bajaur Agency

(ii) Mohmand Agency

|iii) Khyber Agency

(iv) Kurram Agency

(v) Orakzai Agency

(vi) North Waziristan Agency

Iviil South Waziristan Agency

(viii) Malakand Agency

(xi) Special areas (Frontier Regions)

attached to the districts ofPeshawar, Kohat, Bannu, Tank and Dera
Ismail Khan.

The administration in the Agencies is run by the Political Agents and
in the special areas attached to the districts by the respective
Deputy Commissioners. The Political Agent is the 'Kingpin' around
which revolves the entire Agency administration. He is accountable to
the provincial governor who also acts as an Agent to the President
for tribal areas. The Political Agent coordinates the functions of
nation building departments in the Agency and controls the tribesmen
through a system of tribal and territorial responsibility, which, of
course, is the key stone of the arch of political administration. The
Political Agent usually does not interfere in the affairs of the
tribesmen and intervenes only when a grave situation arises. He
exercises his benign influence in case of the outbreak of tribal
hostilities. The success of a Political Agent largely depends upon
his personal influence and ability to tackle a difficult situation.
He is assisted in his work by a small band of officers, including
Assistant Political Officers, Tehsildars and Naib Tehsildars.

The Agencies were set up by the British when the closed-door and
Forward Policy did not achieve the desired objectives. The Khyber was
created as a special Political Agency in 1878, Kurram in 1892 and
Malakand, North and South Waziristan Agencies came into existence in
1895-96. Mohmand Agency was added to the existing strength of the
Agencies in 1951 and two new Agencies, namely Bajaur and Orakzai were
created in December 1973 with headquarters at Knar and Hangu
respectively. The peculiar feature of the Agency administration is
that tribesmen have been left to be governed by their customs and
traditions. The British control too, was only confined to roads,
military installations and places of strategic importance.


TRIBES: The famous Pukhtoon tribes, to mention a few, are Yousafrais
of Bajaur and Malakand Agencies, Afridis of Khyber Agency, Kohat and
Peshawar, Mohmands of Mohmand Agency, Qrakzais of Orakzai Agency,
Turis and Bangash of Kurram Agency, Waziris of North Waziristan
Agency, Mahsuds and Urmars of South Waziristan Agency, and Bhittanis
and Sheranis attached to Tank and D.I. Khan Districts. The Khattak
tribe of the well known warrior-poet Khushal Khan Khattak is also one
of the well known tribes of Peshawar and Kohat border. There are
other smaller tribe such as Shinwaris, Mullagoris, Shilmanis, Safis,
Zaimukht, Muqbil, Mangal, Zadran, Para Chamkani, Kharoti, Jadoon and
Daur etc.


ETHNOLOGY: Different hypotheses have been suggested about the origin
of the Pukhtoons. Khawaja Niamatullah describes them as descendants
of Jews, connecting them with the lost ten tribes of Israel . This
theory of the Semitic origin of the Pukhtoons has been supported by
some Pukhtoon writers, including Hafiz Rahmat Khan, Afzal Khan
Khattak and Qazi Attaullah Khan. A number of orientalists like H.W.
Belfew, Sir William Jones and Major Raverty have also subscribed to
this view on the basis of Pukhtoon physiogonomy, and the striking
resemblance of facial features between Pukhtoons and Jews. They
believe that the prevalence of biblical names, certain customs and
superstitions, especially smearing of the door post and walls of the
house with blood of sacrificial animals, further substantiates this
theory. But these presumptions do not hold good in view of the fact
that resemblance in features and certain characteristics do not
provide a scientific criterion for the ethnology of a race or a
section of people. This can equally be said about the Kashmiris and
certain other tribes who can hardly be distinguished from Pukhtoons
in physique, colour and complexion. Similarly a scrutiny of the
social institutions of the Arabs of the Middle Ages and present day
Pukhtoons would lead one to believe that Pukhtoons are not different
from them in their social organisation.

Syed Bahadur Shah Zafar Kaka Khel in his well written book "PUKHTANA"
and Sir Olaf Caroe in his book "The Pathans" place little reliance on
Niamatullah's theory of the Semitic origin of the Pukhtoons and say
that his account of the Pukhtoons suffers from historical
inaccuracies. To disprove the assertion that the Pukhtoon tribes had
embraced Islam en-bloc after the return of Qais Abdul Rashid from
Medina , the accounts of AI-Beruni and Al-Utbi, the contemporary
historians of Mahmud of Ghazna, establish "that four centuries later
than the time of Qais the Province of Kabul had not been Islamized
and this was achieved under the Ghaznavides. The Hindu Shahiya
Kingdom of Jaipal extended almost to Kabul , Mahmud had to fight
against infidel Afghans of the Sulaiman mountains". Even Prithvi Raj
had a cavalry of Afghans in the battle of Tarian against Mohammad
Ghori. Other writers, after a careful examination of the physical
anthropology of the Pukhtoons say that difference in features of the
various Pukhtoons point to the fact that they must have "mingled with
races who passed through their territory to conquer Hindustan ".

Khawaja Niamatullah's theory has further been put to a serious test
by prominent linguists who maintain that Pushto bears no resemblance
to Hebrew or other Aramaic languages and the Pukhtoons' language,
Pashto, belongs to the family of the Eastern group of Iranian
languages. Mr. Ahmad Ali Kohzad and some other Afghan historians,
lending support to the Aryan origin of the Pukhtoons, say that the
Pakhat of the Rig Veda are the Pukhtoons of today. It is a fact that
the North West Frontier of Pakistan has, perhaps been involved with
more foreign invasions in the course of history than any other
country of Asia . Each horde seems to have left its mark on the
Pukhtoons who absorbed the traits of invading forces, "predominantly
of Turks, Iranians and Mongols",

According to Khawaja Niamatullah the Pukhtoons embraced Islam in the
first quarter of the 7th century when the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon
him) sent his emissaries in all directions to invite the people to
the fold of Islam. One such messenger is stated to have been sent to
Qais Abdur Rashid, who is claimed to be the ancestor of the
Pukhtoons, through Khalid bin Walid. In response to Khalid's
invitation, Qais himied to the Holy land and as a result of the
sublime teachings of the Holy Prophet IPeace be upon him) embraced
Islam in Medina. After his return to Ghore, his whole tribe fallowed
him in the Muslim faith. But due to weak evidence, missing links and
wide gaps this theory has aroused suspicion in the minds of scholars.

If the origin of a race can be determined on the basis of customs and
traditions then Pukhtoon would be closer to Arabs. The study of
Arabian and Pukhloon society presents a remarkable resemblance
particularly in their tribal organisation and social usages. Both
possess the same virtues and characteristics. To both hospitality is
one of the finest virtues, retribution a sacred duty and bravery an
essential prerequisite for an honourable life. Love of independence,
courage, endurance, hospitality and revenge were the supreme virtues
of pre-lslamic Arabs. These very attributes also form the basis of
the Pukhtoon code of honour and anyone who repudiates them is looked
down by the society. A Pukhtoon is nearer to an Arab in his tribal
organisation. Like an Arab tent, every Pukhtoan's house represents a
family, an encampment of Arab tents forms a hay and a cluster of a
few houses constitute a village in tribal areas. Members of one hay
form a clan in Arabia and a Khel (which is an Arabic word meaning
association or company) is the basis of the Pukhtoon's tribal
organisation. A number of kindred clans grouped together make a
qabiia in Arabia and a tribe in the Pukhtoon borderland. Even the
Pashto script resembles the Arabic script in essence. The Arabs held
in great esteem four moral virtues, viz Ziyafah or hospitality
hamasah or fortitude, muruah or manliness and courage and ird or

The Pathans are brave, courageous, hospitable and generous and these
attributes are considered as pillars of the Pukhtoon code of honour
or Pukhtoonwali. The Pathans like the Arabs also believe in fire and
sword for all their adversaries. This was the reason that they fought
tooth and nail against the non-Muslim rulers of the sub-continent
whether Sikhs or Feringi as the Britishers were called.

The position of a tribal Malik who plays an important role in tribal
politics is similar to that of an Arabian Sheikh, The qualifications
of a tribal Malik, such as seniority in age, qualities of head and
heart and character as courage, wisdom and sagacity etc. are not
different from an Arab Sheikh. Like a Sheikh, a tribal Malik follows
the consensus of opinion. He is required to consult the heads of the
families or village council while making any decision with regard to
future relations with a village or tribe. Damn Nadwa was the centre
of activity of the pre-lslamic Arabs and the Pukhtoons' Hujra is also
not different from it in its functions. All matters relating to war,
peace, future relations with neighbouring tribes and day to day
problems used to be discussed in Damn Nadwa. Similarly, all tribal
affairs connected with the tribe are discussed in the Hujra.

Hospitality is one of the sublime features of the Pukhtoons and pre-
lslamic Arabs were also renowned for their hospitality and for
affording asylum to strangers. They would share the last crumb of
their bread with a guest and protect him from all harm so long as he
was under their roof. Similarly, Pukhtoons regard hospitality as
a "sacred duty and safety of the guest as inviolable". It is a
serious violation of their established norms to hurt a man who enters
their village as a guest. In the pre-independence days they provided
asylum to all and sundry, including the proclaimed offenders wanted
by the British Government in cases of a criminal nature in the
settled districts. Similarly the Arabs the right of asylum considered
sacred and was rigidly respected regardless of the crime of the

The spirit of revenge of the Pukhtoons is not different from that of
the Arabs. Blood according to the law of the desert called for blood
and no chastisement could satisfy an Arab other than wreaking
vengeance on his enemy. Similarly, the hills of the Pukhtoon
Highlanders vibrate with echoes of retribution till the insult is
avenged. As a matter of fact, the society of both the Arabs and the
Pukhtoons is inspired by a strong feeling of muruwwa, virility or a
quality to defend one's honour (ird). There are several anecdotes of
revenge resulting in long blood feuds for generations. The Basus war
between Banu Bakr and Banu Taghlib in Arabia lasted for about 40
years whereas tribal disputes between Gar and Samil factions of the
Pukhtoons continued for decades. Pukhtoons like Arabs are conscious
of their racial superiority. An Arab would boast of being a Quraish
and a Pukhtoon would assert his superiority by saying. Am I not a

The customs regarding giving protection to weaker neighbours is also
common between Arabs and Pukhtoons. A weaker tribe in Arabia would
seek the protection of a powerful tribe by means of Khuwah and a
weaker Pukhtoon tribe would ensure its security by offering "Lokhay"
to its strong neighbouring tribe. The custom of "Lokhay Warkawal" is
still prevalent among Afridi and Orakzai tribes of Tirah. A
similarity can also be found in their customs relating to birth,
marriage and death etc. Certain superstitions are also common between
the Arabs and the Pukhtoons. Both believe in all kinds of invisible
beings, wear amulets as a safeguard against the evil eye and believe
in sooth sayers and fortune tellers.


When Sindh and Multan were conquered by the Muslim army under the
inspiring leadership of the young General Mohammad bin Qasim, in 711
A.D. this part of the South Asian Sub-Continent was still ruled by a
Hindu Shahi dynasty. Subaktagin was the first Muslim ruler who
crossed swords with Jaipal, a powerful ruler of the Hindu Shahi
dynasty in 997. Later, the Muslims under the command of his
illustrious son Mahmud of Ghazna invaded the sub-continent as many as
seventeen times and fought fierce battles against Jaipal, his son
Anandpal and other Hindu rulers and Rajas of Northern India. He was
followed by Shahabud Din Mohammad Ghori, Qutb-ud-Din Aibak and other
sultans and finally the great Mughals who ruled the sub­continent for
centuries. Things, however, began to change after the death of
Aurangzeb Alamgir, the last powerful ruler of the Mi/ghal dynasty.
The internal disputes, court intrigues and feuds of rival factions
weakened the Mughal Central Government and the centrifugal tendencies
of the Mughai Governors sounded the death knell of the mighty Mughal

The way was thus paved for the rise of Ranjit Singh, who eventually
extended his military sway from Lahore upto the foothills of Khyber
in the first quarter of the 19th century. The Sikh advance was,
however, checked by the tribesmen who did not allow them to encroach
upon their independence. The Pukhtoons fought several battles against
them and finally measured their strength of arms with the militant
Sikhs in a battle fought within the environs of Jamrud in 1837. In
this pitched battle, the Sikhs sustained heavy casualties. It was
here that their famous General Hari Singh Malwa, was killed.

Twelve years later the superior and disciplined forces of the British
defeated the Sikhs in successive battles and annexed the whole of the
territory beyond the Indus river and ruled over the North West
Frontier for about a century.

The Pukhtoons resisted violently all attempts by the British to
subjugate or turn them into docile and obedient members of an
enslaved community. They offered stubborn resistance to the British
forces and Inspite of their meager means and resources, the Pukhtoons
carried on an un-ending war against them for the preservation of
their liberty. The British, . proud of their glory and might, sent
about one hundred expeditions one after the other against the
Pukhtoons to subdue them by force but they did not yield to the
enemy's military might. According to Col. H.C. Wylly 62 military
expeditions were despatched against the tribesmen between 1349-1908,
besides every day small skirmishes. These included the famous Ambela
campaign 1863, the Black Mountain expedition 1868, the Miranzai
expedition 1891, the Hassanzai expedition

1894. the Dir and Chitral expedition

1895. the Tirah campaign 1897, and the Mahsud-Waziri expeditions
1897. As a result of this aggressive policy the whole frontier, from
Malakand to Waziristan , flared up in revolt against the British in

The frontier rising of 1897 engaged about 98000 trained and well
equipped British Indian forces in a grim struggle. According to Col.
H.D. Hutchison, the approximate strength of the Tirah expeditionary
force alone was "1010 British Officers, 10,882 British troops, 491
native officers, 22,123 native troops, 197 hospital Assistants, 179
clerks, 19,558 followers, 8000 horses, 18,384 mules and ponies and
1440 hospital riding ponies". But to these figures, he says, "must he
added an enormous number of camels, carts, ponies etc working on the
long line of communication with Kohat and gradually brought into use
as needs increased and the roads were improved". The British forces
suffered 1150 casualties during the Tirah expedition. Similar was the
fate of other expeditions as well. The operations against Mohmand in
1915-16, and Wazirs and Mahsuds between 1917-1920 and 1936 Waziri
campaign also deserves special mention. In 1917 an arduous campaign
was undertaken against the Mahsuds and an aeroplane was made use of
for the first time in Waziristan . In 193G the dales and mountains of
Waziristan resounded with the echoes of Jehad. The main cause of the
war was the marriage of Islam Bibi (a Hindu Girl of Bannu who was
named Islam Bibi after conversion to Islam) with a Muslim. She was
later on returned to • her parents in accordance with the decision of
the British law court. The Government sent over 30,000 well equipped
army to curb the activities of the tribal lashkars in Waziristan but
it met with no or little success. "By December 1937", says Authur
Swinson, "when the 40,000 British and Indian troops pulled back on
Peshawar, the situation was no better than it had been in January,
and in 1938 more fighting was to ensue." The expenditure on the
Frontier war and "the burden on the Indian tax payer was enormous and
between 1924 and 1939 it totalled 11,2000,000 pounds". But the long
range heavy guns and air bombardment did not dishearten the tribesmen
and they continued their intermittent struggle against an imperialist
power till the dawn of Independence . "Throughout the hundred and odd
years of the British rule over the North West Frontier, Waziristan
was always one of the most heavily garrisoned areas anywhere in the
world. Seething with political unrest and ceaseless guerilla warfare,
this was the testing place - the crucible of valour and efficiency
for generations of British soldiers, statesmen and civil servants".
The British invariably deputed their ablest military and civil
officers to serve in these areas which had become the best training
ground for the British soldiers. In fact, the British soldiers had
never before experienced such tough and arduous life as on the
Frontier. This is well reflected from a stanza of Mr.
Kipling's "Frontier Arithmetic"

"A scrimmage in a Border Station A center down some dark defils. Two
thousand pounds of education Drops to a ten rupee Jezail",

As the freedom movement gained momentum in the Sub-Continent, the
tribesmen in general and the Pukhtoons of NWFP in particular rallied
round the dynamic leadership of the Guaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah
and under the green banner of the Muslim League for the establishment
of an independent Muslim State. They resisted the insidious
temptations of the Hindu Congress leaders. They gave vent to their
feelings of indignation at the time of Pandat Jawahar Lal Nehru's
visit to Khyber, Malakand and North Waziristan Agencies in autumn of
1946. They staged violent demonstrations against the visiting
Congress dignitary and the then Head of the Interim Government of
India and thereby proved to him their feelings of love for a Muslim
state and un-shakeable confidence in the able leadership of the Quaid-
e-Azam. Their efforts and sacrifices, in common with the rest of the
Mussalmans in the Sub-Continent to carve out a sovereign and
independent Islamic State for themselves were ultimately crowned with
success. Pakistan , their life­long dream, appeared on the map of the
world and as dedicated and patriotic citizens of Pakistan , the
tribesman pledged themselves to stand by the rest of theit brethren
in defending its integrity and the solidarity of its people.

The Pukhtoon's devotion to Pakistan - their homeland, was warmly
appreciated by the Quaid-e-Azam, who as the first Governor General of
Pakistan ordered a complete immediate withdrawal of all troops from
tribal areas hitherto stationed by an alien Government. The so called
ferocious warriors turned in no time into peaceful citizens as if by
a magic wand, passionately interested in their own progress and the
well being of Pakistan . The governance of the tribal bell is no
longer a problem for Pakistan ; on the contrary the government is
actively associating tribesmen in the progress and prosperity of the
country. It is one of the cherished goals of the Pakistan Government
to work for the socio-economic uplift of the tribesmen who had been
deliberately ignored by alien rulers. A number of public utility
schemes aiming at

socio-economic, educational and industrial uplift have already been
completed while many more are being speedily implemented.

The tribal area which was at one time a scene of wild affrays is now
completely peaceful, "At present", says lan Stephens, "the irritant
of the infidel Frontier is remarkably peaceful. During journeys,
since the withdrawal, along the Pakistan side of it, in 1948, 1951
and again this year (1961), I have been amazed-by the change. Within
my extensive zone of travel there were no hostilities, actual or
apprehended between the Frontier Corps or the Army or tribal
lashkars, as in former days. Nor did I see the least sign of
Pukhtoonistan activities". A similar opinion has been expressed by
Mr. H.C. Taussig in the 'Eastern World'. "There is no doubt" he
say "that the situation has vastly improved, at least in some areas
which it was unsafe to travel by day and impossible by
night 1 was able to move freely without escort, at any time".

Appreciating the pace of development in tribal areas in the wake of
peaceful conditions the world famous historian, Professor Arnold J.
Toynbee says "Pakistan does pursue a forward policy on the frontier
and a vigorous one, but its key instruments are not weaponsof war,
they are dispensaries, schools, sports, and, above all, economic
development. This last instrument is supremely important, because it
gives the tribesmen opportunities for finding alternate means of
livelihood to the raiding which has been their traditional tecourse".
The improvement in communication has revolutionized the means of
transportation as well. THE camels and donkeys ate gradually being
replaced by motorized conveyances. "In this northern world round
Peshawar", says Professor Toynbee, "times are changing. Not so long
ago the traveller through the Khyber Pass had to pay tribute to the
Afridis, or it would be the worse for him, Passing emperors have
defied the Afridis and have lived or sometimes not lived to regret
it. Today we can travel through the pass and back by the Afridi Bus
Service and the tribute has turned into a fare. In old days a tribe
used to measure its strength by the number of its rifles. Today it
measures it by the number of its buses and lorries".


The Pukhtoons are chiefly employed in agriculture but their
agricultural pursuits are limited owing to the lack of culturable
land. The patches of cultivable land in hilly tracts and some open
valleys do not produce sufficient food-grains to meet their food
requirements. In addition to tilling the available land, tribesmen
tend cattle, including herds of goats and sheep, camels and cows.

If, on the one hand, the tribesmen were economically dependent on the
British, on the other, all kinds of trade in trihal areas had been
monopolized by Hindus and Sikhs. They had opened shops in the
centrally located places and big villages and every tribesman was
their customer. A large number of tribesmen would go to Bombay in
search of employment while others would join the Border Military
Police (later called the Frontier Constabulary! and the army. Certain
sections of the tribesmen would sell firewood and timber to the
people of the cities, while others took up some other petty trade.
But among the tribesmen, the Adam Khal Afridis of the Kohat Pass had
a flare for trade. They were traders and carriers of salt at the time
of the advent of the British in the frontier. They used to carry salt
from the mines of Kohat District to Swat, Bajaur and other parts of
the NWFP.

They also engaged themselves in a thriving and lucrative arms trade
and later started manufacturing fire-arms in their factories. Other
tribesmen emulated their example and set up arms factories at I Ham
Gudar (Khyber Agency), Nawagai IBajaur Agency) and Kaniguram (South
Waziristan Agency). The Adam Khel Afridis of the Kohat Pass showed
the most extraordinary ingenuity in devising, making and installing
different kinds of indigenous machines for turning out various
component parts of rifles. In the beginning of the 2Dth century there
were about half a dozen workshops in Darra but later this industry
rapidly expanded to every glen and village. They were also famous gun
runners and carried on arms trade with the Persian Gulf countries. In
this way they supplemented the arms pile of the tribesmen and
furnished them with the latest weapons at reasonable rates. At
present the Adam Khel Afridis are producing such fine specimen of
revolvers, pistols and rifles with their crude implements that they
can hardly be distinguished from those of European-make. It can be
confidently said that nowhere in the world has a similar feat been
performed by un-educated men with no training or experience of mass
production methods.

The arms manufacturing industry was the main source of the Afridis'
income during the British rule. But conditions have changed
considerably since the creation of Pakistan . The increased interest
of the national Government in the welfare of the tribesmen and the
growing communication and interaction between the tribesmen and the
people of other parts of Pakistan , have revolutionized their socio-
economic life. Soon after Independence the Pakistan Government
launched a number of schemes of public utility in the tribal areas to
ameliorate the lot of the people, provide them with amenities of
life, increase employment opportunities and make them equal partners
in progress and prosperity. The Government provided them with every
incentive to take to respectable pursuits. As a result of this
encouragement, the tribesmen took to commerce and soon commercial
centres sprang up at Sakha Kot, Batkhela (Malakand Agency), Yekka
Ghund (Mohmand Agency), Bara, Jamrud and Landi Kotal (Khyber Agency),
Parachinar, Sadda (Kurram Agency), Miran Shah (North Waziristan
Agency), Wana (South Waziristan Agency) and Darra Adam Khel {Frontier
Region Kohat) where business transactions of hundreds and thousands
of rupees are made every day.

While millions of rupees were being spent by the British on the
highways to' subjugate the tribesmen, nothing substantial was spent
on the improvement of their social condition. But the Pakistan
Government, fully aware of the problems of tribesmen, embarked upon a
programme to combat illiteracy, want, misery and disease. The Quaid-d-
Azam took a keen interest in the development of the tribal areas.
Addressing a historic tribal gathering at Peshawar , the Founder of
Pakistan declared " Pakistan wants to help you and make you as far as
it lies in our power, self reliant and self sufficient and to help
your educational, social and economic uplift and not to be left as
you are, depending on annual doles". The Government opened the doors
of employment to tribesmen in all spheres of national life. Quotas
were allocated for the tribal candidates in the services, and a
relaxation of three years was allowed to them in the age limit
prescribed for various services. The Frontier Constabulary and
Frontier Corps are now almost mainly manned by tribesmen and a
respectable share of employment has also been given to them in the
regular Armed Forces and other services. This liberal policy has
solved their economic problems to a considerable extent. Nowadays
scores of tribesmen are engaged in business, trade, commerce,
Government and private services and other respectable professions and
are serving the country with a spirit of devotion and dedication. In
short the tribesmen from Bajaur to Waziristan , with their energy and
inherent spirit of enterprise, are forging ahead in every activity of


"I despise the man who does not guide his life by honour The very
word honour drives me mad".


The Pukhtoon social structure, which has attracted the attention of
many a scholar is mainly governed by conventions and traditions and a
code of honour known as "Pukhtoonwali". This un­written code is the
keystone of the arch of the Pukhtoons' social fabric. It exercises a
great influence on their actions and has been held sacrosanct by them
generation after generation. The Pukhtoonwali or the Pukhtoon code of
honour embraces all the activities from the cradle to the grave. It
imposes upon the members of the Pukhtoon society four chief
obligations. Firstly Nanawatey or repentance over past hostility or
inimical attitude and grant of asylum, secondly Teega or a truce
declared by a Jirga to avoid bloodshed between two rival factions,
thirdly Badal or obligation to seek revenge by retaliation and
fourthly Melmastiya or an open hearted hospitality which is one of
the most sublime and noble features of Pukhtoon character. In a broad
sense hospitality, magnanimity, chivalry, honesty, uprightness,
patriotism, love and devotion for the country are the essential
features of Pukhtoonwali.

The history of Pukhtoonwali is as old as the history of the Pukhtoons
and every individual of Pukhtoon society is expected to abide by
these age old traditions. The non-observance of these customary laws
is considered disgraceful and may lead to expulsion of an individual
or even a whole family. Pukhtoonwali, Pukhto and Pukhtoon have become
almost synonymous terms.

NANAWATEY: Some European writers define Nanawatey as grant of asylum
to fugitives or extreme hospitality. An experienced British
administrator who served as a Political Officer on the Frontier for a
fairly long time describes it "an extension of the idea of Melmastia,
(Hospitality) in an extreme form, stepped up to the highest degree".
But the grant of asylum or sanctuary is only one aspect of Nanawatey
while its exact definition and true spirit seems to have been
ignored. As a matter of fact, it is a means to end longstanding
disputes and blood feuds and transform enmity into friendship. Under
Nanawatey a penitent enemy is forgiven and the feuding factions
resume peaceful and friandly "relations. Thus it creates a congenial
atmosphere for peaceful co-existence and mutual understanding through
eventual reconciliation.

When a person feels penitent over his past bellicose postures and
hostility and expresses a desire to open a new chapter of friendly
relations with his foe and live in peace and amity with him, he
approaches the tribal elders, Ulema and religious divines for
intercession on his behalf for a settlement. In this regard the
Jirga's efforts are always countenanced with favour and the very
presence of the suppliant in the enemy's Hujra creates a congenial
atmosphere for resumptions of friendly relations. The host, who used
to scan the neighbourhood in an effort to avenge his insult,
exercises patience and kindness and gently pardons his opponent for
his past misconduct. This is followed by slaughtering of a buffalo,
cow, or a few lambs or goats provided by the suppliant. A feast is
held in the Hujra and with it the enmity comes to an end.

The customs relating to Nanzwatey are more or less identical
throughout the Pukhtoon society. In some parts of the Iribal areas,
however, there was a custom according to which the suppliant used to
go before his enemy with grass in his mouth and a rope round his neck
as a mark of humility {this custom no longer exists). Sometimes women
bearing the Holy Quran over their heads would approach the enemy's
house to plead their

family members innocence in any given case. The tribesmen, like
Muslims all over the world, have a deep faith in the Holy Quran and
they, therefore, regard it as a sacrilegious act to deny the favour
asked for through the Holy Book. Besides, the women are held in high
esteem by Pukhtoons and therefore, a favour solicited through them is
seldom denied. Sometimes a man manages to reach his enemy's hearih
and stays there till his request for Nanawarey is acceded to.
However, if some obstacles lie in the way of acceptance of a
Nanawatey then the suppliant bides his time for an opportune occasion
such as occurance of a death in his enemy's family. He hurries to his
enemy's village, joins the funeral procession, tries to be one of the
pall­bearers and announces his desire for Nanawatey. This evokes a
spontaneous feeling of sympathy and the relatives of the deceased
readily concede to their erstwhile enemy's desire. It is, however
interesting-to note that no Nanawatey is accepted in which the honour
of the women is involved.

Any one who gains access to a Pukhtoon's house can claim asylum. He
is protected by the owner of the house even at the risk of his own
life. Under Panah which is a subsidiary element of Nanawatey one can
take shelter under the roof of a Pukhtoons' house irrespective of
caste, creed, status or previous relations. Though it would seem
paradoxical yet Pukhtoons on several occasions have provided
sanctuary to their deadly enemies. Panah is best illustrated by a
story which, according to Mr. Claud Field "is often told on the
Frontier". Once a quarrel between a creditor and a debtor resulted in
the death of the creditor near his village. The debtor made an un­
successful bid to run away, but he was hotly chased by the deceased's
relatives. Having failed to escape the assassin approached a village
tower and sought rafuge in "Allah's Name". The chieftain of ihe
tower, after enquiries from the fugitive realised that he had slain
his brother. Instead of avenging his brother's death an the spot, the
chieftain calmly said to the fugitive, "you have killed my own
brother, hut as you have asked for refuge in God's Name, in His name
I give it." He was forthwith admitted to the tower and the pursuers
sternly forbidden To approach. When ihev departed, the chieftain gave
the refugee an hour's grace to leave the premises and be gone. The
refugee made good use of the grace period and escaped death on that
occasion, at least.

Another example of asylum, as recorded in books, is that of an old
Pukhtoon woman. It is said that once a gang of dacoits raided a
village. The villagers, including the two sons of an old woman, came
out to challenge the dacoits. Soon a fierce fight ensued between the
two parties in which besides others both the sons of the old woman
were also killed. The dacoits having found all escape-routes blocked,
sought shelter in the house of the old woman. The pursuers, who were
close on their heels, felt delighted that the dacoits were now in
their grip. But on approaching the old woman's house, they were
deeply annoyed to find their way barred by her. Displaying
traditional Pukhtoon courage she determinedly said that she would not
allow any one to lay hands on them. "You don't know" the pursuers
angrily said, "they have killed v° ur two sons". "That may be so",
she calmly replied, "but they have come Nanawatey to my house and I
cannot see anyone laying his hands on them so long as they are under
my roof".

The obligation of asylum frequently brought the Pukhtoons into
conflict with the British during their one hundred years' rule on the
Frontier. The government, under various treaties and agreements
entered into by the tribesmen with the British and under the
principle of territorial responsibility, often insisted that
tribesmen should refrain from harbouring outlaws, but the Pukhtoons
considering it as an act against the canons of

Pukhtoonwali, often refused to oblige the authorities inspite of
threats of reprisals and severe punishment. The tribesmen's obduracy
in this connection, on many occasions, led to despatch of military
expeditions and economic blockades by the British. They braved all
sufferings, bore the brunt of the enemy's attack and suffered losses
both in men and material but gallantly refused to hand over the guest
outlaws. "In common with all Afghans", writes Claud Field, "the
Afridi exercise a rough hospitality and offer an asylum to any
fugitive endeavouring to escape from an avenger, or from the pursuit
of justice and they would undergo any punishment or suffer any
injuries rather then deliver up iheir guest". The denial of
protection, says Sir Dlaf Caroe, "is impossible for one who would
observe Pukhto, it cannot be refused even to an enemy who makes an
approach according to Nanawatey."

Ajab Khan Afridi, the hero of the famous Miss Ellis drama took refuge
with Mullah Mahmud Akhunzada, a religious divine of Tirah Orakzai
after the abduction of Miss Ellis. The British government brought
enormous pressure on the Akhunzada to surrender Ajab Khan and his
accomplices but he refused to deliver them on the ground that they
had taken asylum under his roof and it was contrary to the norms of
Pukhtoonwali to hand them over to the government.

Similarly a few outlaws took asylum with the Jowakis, a clan of the
Adam Khel Afridi tribe, in 1877. The government demanded their return
but the Jowakis refused to comply with such a request. Ultimately
their intransigence over this question brought them into armed clash
in which mote than 5000 combatants were engaged. According to George
B. Scott "every glen and valley of the clan was occupied, every tower
destroyed, many cattle died, the families suffered in the wintry
cold, only then did the chiefs come into camp and ask for terms.
These were a fine in cash, of course but a small fraction of what the
expedition had cost the surrender of a certain number of
rifles and other weapons in Peshawar and the surrender of two
noted outlaws for murderous raids. The chief of the tribe replied "we
will pay the fine, we will surrender our arms, but those two men have
taken refuge with us. We will not give them up. You are in possession
of our country. Keep it, we will seek a home elsewhere, but those men
we will not give up. Why will you blacken our faces"? Another example
of asylum has been quoted by Major Herbert B. Edwardes, who says
that "Raja Heera Singh, when Prime Minister of Lahore, sent an offer
of three thousand rupees or 30Q pound to Malik Sawab Khan Vezeeree,
if he would give up Malik Fatteh Khan Towannun, who had taken refuge
in his mountains, the offer was (ejected with indignation." KANRREY
OR TEEGA: Kanrrey or Teega is another custom among the Pukhtoons,
which stands for cessation of blood-shed between contending parties.
Teega (lit. 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.

When hostilities break out between two rival factions and firing
starts from house tops and surrounding hills, a tribal Jirga
intervenes to restore peace and prevent blood-shed. In case of
firing, there is no security of life and property and death hangs
over the feuding factions like the sword of Democles. The Jirga,

consisting of local tribal elders andreligious divines, declares a
Teega after full deliberations and in consultations with the parties
concerned and declares a truce for a specified period on pain of a
Nagha or fine. Nagha is paid by the party which violates the truce.
The objective underlying Teega is to restore normal conditions by"
holding the feelings of enmity in abeyance, cooling down tempers and
providing an opportunity to the two sides to settle their dispute
amicably ihrough tribal elders on the principles of justice and fair-
play. The parties generally, strictly adhere to the terms of the
truce. Any one of the contending parties which commits a breach of
the truce is punished with a heavy fine.

If the party guilty of violating the truce declines to pay the
prescribed amount of fine, the Jirga proceeds to recover it forcibly.
This may be in the farm of burning of the houses of the rebel group,
its expulsion from the locality or banishment from the tribe. This
task is accomplished with the help of a tribal lashkar, composed of
armed tribesmen. Mo one can, therefore, violate the truce because of
such stringent action. Here the Jirga's action resembles U.N. General
Assembly's action against any rebel government. The General Assembly
applies economic sanctions against a defiant government, which may be
in-effective because the General Assembly has no authority to enforce
it or compel member countries to abide by its decision, but orders of
a Jirga cannot be ignored or side-tracked in any form or manner.


To my mind death is better than life when life can no longer be held
with honour:

(Khushal Khan Khattak)

Self-respecl and sensitivity to insult is another essential trait of
Pukhtoon character. The poorest among them has his own sense of
dignity and honour and he vehemently refuses to submit to any insult.
In fact every Pukhtoon 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.

Badal (retaliation) and blood feuds generally emanate from intrigue
with women, murder of one of the family members or their hamsayas,
violation of Badragga, slight personal injury or insult or damage to
property. Any insult is generally resented and retaliation is exacted
in such cases.

A Pukhtoon believes and acts in accordance with the principles of
Islamic Law i.e. an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth and blood for
blood. He wipes out insult with insult regardless of cost or
consequence and vindicates his honour by wiping out disgrace with a
suitable action. But the urge for Badal Aoes not mean that he is
savage, blood thirsty or devoid of humane qualities. He is kind,
affectionate, friendly and magnanimous and forgives any one who kills
his relatives by a mistake but he will not allow any intentional
murder go unavenged. Proud of his descent, he becomes offensive only
when an insult is hurled at him or some injury is done to him
deliberately. He goes in search of his enemy, scans the surrounding
area and hills, lies in wait for months and years, undergoes all
hardships but does not feel content till his efforts of wreaking
vengeance on his enemy are crowned with success. Those who fail to
fulfil the obligations of Pukhto (self-respect) by wiping out insult
with insult, lose their prestige in the eyes of their compatriots,
render themselves liable to Paighors (reproach) and earn an unfair
name. According to Nang-e-Pakhto or code of honour an unavenged
injury is the deepest shame and the honour of the person can be
redeemed only by a similar action. It may, however, be noted
that "there is little if any random crime or violence" in the tribal
areas as the stakes are too high and the retribution too certain to

Many daring stories of Badal or retaliation are recorded by European
as well as Asian writers but one such story showing Pukhtoons' strong
urge for Badal has been related by Mrs Starr. She writes, "once an
old man with a white beard and hair and eyes filmy with cataract came
into the out patient hall and when his turn came to see the doctor,
he said "I am old but give me sight that I may use a gun again. 'To
the doctors' query he replied in quite a placid and natural
manner: 'I have not taken the exchange (revenge! for my sons' death
sixteen years ago."

Another famous story of revenge, as told by T.C. Pennell, is that a
Pathan girl who approached a court of law for justice but the judge
expressed his inability to prosecute the offender for his imputed
crime due to lack of ample evidence. This enraged the girl and she
said in fit of anger, "Very well, I must find my own way". She went
in search of the murderer of her brother "who had escaped the justice
of the !aw but not the hand of the avenger". She "concealed a
revolver on her person and coming up to her enemy in the crowded
bazar, shot him point blank".

Sometimes a Pukhtoon becomes so sentimental that he vows not to take
a meal with his right hand and sleep on ground instead of a charpaee
(bedstead) until he has avenged the wrong done to him. Pukhtoon
history is replete with many examples of Badal and there are
instances where a child born a few months even after the murder of
his father has, wreaked vengeance on his enemy after patiently
waiting tor many years.

The obligation of Badal rests with the aggrieved party and it can be
discharged only by action against the aggressor or his family. In
most cases the aggressor is paid in the same com. If no opportunity
presents itself "he may defer his revenge for years, but it is
disgraceful to neglect or abandon it entirely, and it is incumbent on
his relations, and sometimes on his tribe, to assist him in his
retaliation". When a Pukhtoon disorders that his dishonour is
generally known, he prefers to die an honourable death rather than
live a life of disgrace. He exercises the right of retribution with
scant regard for hanging and transportation and only feels contented
after avenging the insult, Badal resulted in blood feuds and vendetta
in the past, but now due to the prevalent peaceful conditions in the
tribal area and with the spread of education, the incidence of Badal
are few and far between.

MELMASTIYA (Hospitality)

"It goes waste if you feed yourself alone;

It gives satisfaction to have your meal in company"

IKhushal Khan Khsttakl

Pukhtoon have been described as one of the most hospitable peoples of
the world. They consider Melmastiya or generous hospitality as one of
the finest virtues and greel their guest warmly with a broad smile on
their faces. A Pukhtoon feels delighted to receive a guest regardless
of his past relations or acquaintance and prepares a delicious meal
for him. "Each house." says Mirza Agha Abbas of Shiraz, "subscribes a
vessel of water for the mosque and for strangers". Dilating on ihe
subject Mr. L. White King says that "Pathans regard dispensing of
hospitality as a sacred duly, and supply their guests with food
according to their means". Guests are usually entertained in a Hujra
(village meeting place), where guests are entertained and routine
meetings of the (ilders are held. Each village contains at least, one
Hujra. The host kills a fowl if he cannot afford to slaughter a lamb
or goat anrl prepares a sweet dish (Halwa) lo satisfy his sense of
hospitality. Guests are not only looked after but also respected. "A
rich chief", says T.L. Penall, "will be satisfied with nothing less
than the slaying of the sheep whan he receives a guest of
distinction. A poorer man will be satisfied with the slaying of a

Pukhtoons feel happy over the coming of ihe guests and greet them
with traditional slogans, "Har Kala Rasha" and "Pa Kbair Raghley"
and "Sterrey Mashey" i.e. may you often come, welcome and may you not
be tired. He also exchanges such courtesies with the guest as "Jorr
Yai" (are you welll "Kha Jorr Yai" (are you quite well) and "Takrra
Yai" (are you hale and hearty). The guest gratefully acknowledging
these forms of welcome by saying "Pa Khali Ossey", Imay you be
safe) "Khudai de mat sha" (May God be with you) "Khushat Ossey" (may
you be prosperous and happy! and "Ma Khwaraigey" (may you not be
destitute). This way of greeting full of friendly gestures reflects
the warmth with which the guests are received. The arrival of the
guest in Hujra is immediately followed by tea and later the guest is
setved with a rich meal consisting of Halwa (a special sweet dish),
Puliao (rice dish) and other seasonal dishes. When the guest sets aif
on his journey he is bade farewell in these words "Pa Makha De Kha"
(may your journey be safe and happy).

The guest of an individual is considered as the guest of all and he
is jointly entertained by the villagers in ihe Hujra, A variety of
dishes are prepared and the elders of the family lunch or dine with
the guest on a common piece of cloth {Dastarkhwan) spread over a
carpet, drugget or a main mat. It is one of the cardinal principles
of Pukhtoon's hospitality to request the guest to sup or take a few
morsels with the village folk even though the guest may have had his
meals but the etiquette enjoins upon the guest to oblige his hosts by
taking a few more morsels. After they have partaken of a meal the
company prays to Allah to give the host riches and prosperity and
power of entertaining more guests.

Giving a vivid description of Pukhtoon hospitality. Sir Olaf Caroe
writes "The giving of hospitality to ihe guest is a national point of
honour, so much so that the reproach to an inhospitable man is thai
he is devoid of Pakhto, a creature of contempt. It is ihe greatest of
affronts to a Pathan to carry off his guest, and his indignation will
be directed not against the guest who quits him but to the person who
prevails on him to leave. This, or something like it, was the
reception accorded to the outlaws from British justice who fled to
the hills."

Another example of Pukhtoon hospitality is recorded by Dr. Pennel who
served in Bannu and the adjoining tribal areas as a missionary doctor
for a number of years. He writes "on one occasion I came to a village
with my companion rather late in the evening. The chief himself was
away but his son received me with every mark of respect and killed a
fowl and cooked a savoury Puliao". He adds, "Late at night when the
Khan returned and found on enquiry thai the Bannu Padre Sahib was his
guest, he asked if he had been suitably entertained. To his dismay he
heard that only a chicken hat) been prepared for dinner. Immediately,
iherefore, he ordered a sheep to be killed and cooked, so that his
honour might be saved." To their minds, Says another English
writer, "hospitality is the finest of virtues. Any person who can
make his way into their dwellings will not only be safe, but will be
kindly received."


TOR: As has been suggested earlier that Pukhtoons are sensitive about
Ihe honour of their women folk and slight molestation of the women is
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 eithet 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.

If a Pukhtoon discovers that a particular person is carrying a
liaison with any female of his house, then he neither spares the life
of the female nor that of her seducer. This is called Tor in Pashto
{literally meaning black but used for public disgrace and defamation)
or stigmatization of both male and female who are found guilty of
illicit amour on sufficient evidence. Both the man and woman are put
to death according to the customary law and this type of notoriety,
abuse and slander is wiped out with the blood of the culprit. Besides
adultery, death penalty is also prescribed for elopement which also
falls under the purview of Tor. In cases of Tor murder is not
accounted for and the woman relatives are justified by Ihe tribal law
lo kill their female relation as well as her paramour. In case any of
the persons guilty of adultery succeeds in absconding, the heirs of
the female have every right to kill him/her whenever and wherever an
opportunity presents itself. Otherwise the matter remains Paighor

Tor has two aspects. If a woman is criminally assaulted and raped by
force by a man with whom she had no previous illicn relations: then
the woman is spared because of her innocence and the guilty man alone
is put to death. According to the tribal custom, the accused is
handed over id her parents, or her husband, if shB is married. If the
culprit's family refuses to hand him over to the Jirga or the
relatives of the violated woman, then the adulterer's family is
forced to abandon their village and seek refuge outside tribal
limits. In such cases the relatives of the woman have a right to wipe
out the insult by killing the accused himself or his brother or
father. Not only the husbands but even brothers consider themselves
bound to wipe out the insult.

The second aspect of Tor is that if the infidelity of a woman or the
alleged involvement of adultery of both male and female is proved,
then both are put to death. It is because of such deterrent
punishment and ignominous death that both the sexes dare not indulge
in fornication.

GUNDI: Gundi is a classic case of balance of power in tribal areas.
It is derived from Pashto word Gund, 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 defence, similarly various sections of a tribe align
themselves in blocs or Gundis to safeguard their common interests.
Gundi is entered into defeat the aggressive and nefarious designs of
a hostile neighbour. In tribal fighting the Gundi members espouse
their mutual interests against their common enemy and act as a
corporate body with all the resources at their command.

The history of the Pukhtoons provide many instances of long blood
feuds spreading over several years. To quote an example, a quarrel of
a few blacksmiths split up the Zarghun Khel section of the Adam Khel
tribe into two warring factions in 1922 and the hostilities continued
for over five years in which the tribesmen of different villages
arrayed themselves on one or the other side. The member of a Gundi
maintain constant liaison with each other, exchange views on matters
of common interest and hold mutual consultations to meet critical
situations. They invite each other on festive occasions, help each
other in the hour of need and share each other's joys and sorrows.


Warkawal literally means 'giving of a pot' but it implies the
protection of an individual or a tribe. Lokhay is generally given by
a weaker tribe to a stronger one with the object of ensuring its
safety and security. 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.
The custom of Lokhay is common among the Afridi tribes of Khyber
Agency and Orakzai tribes of Tirah.

LAKHKAR: Lakhkar (widely known as Lashkar) is an armed party which
goes out from a village or tribe for warlike purposes. The Lakhkar
may consist of a hundred to several thousand men. The Lakhkar
assembled for Jehad IHoly War) is usually very large. The decisions
of a Jirga, if violated by a party, are enforced through a tribal
Lakhkar. The Lakhkar 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 a village is raided by armed bandits with the
object of lifting cattle, looting property or abducting an inmate of
the village. Composed of armed persons, the Chigha party goes in
pursuit of the raiders to effect 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 Tan. 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. If for
instance, some one says that "A" has a Mla Tarr of ten men, it would
mean that "A" can furnish an armed party of ten men usually
consisting of his sons grandsons or close relatives. 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, mal­treated or
disgraced by their enemies.

BADRAGGA: An armed party escorting a fugitive or a visitor to his
destination, is called Badragga. Badragga is a guarantee for the
safety of a man who is either hotly pursued ay his enemies or there
is an apprehension of his being killed on his way home. An armed
parly accompanies such a man as Badragga or 'escort' to ensure his
safe return to the place of his abode. Badragga 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 Badragga convoy can
be depended upon only within its own geographical limits; beyond it,
the people of other tribes take the charge to convoy the traveller.

BADNARR: Badnarr which means the imposition of a ban closely
resembles Tarr both in spirit and essence. The only difference
between the two is that the scope of Tarr is vast and it includes any
matter unanimously agreed upon whereas Badnarr is specifically used
for a ban on cutting wood from hills. Anyone violating Badnarr
renders himself liable to the payment of a specific amount of fine.
Tribesmen immediately approach him for extraction of fine and he is
obliged by this tribal custom to pay Nagha [fine).

BILGA: The word Bilga is used for stolen property. According to
tribal custom, a man is held responsible for a dacoity, 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 realised or the debtor lias 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 Pukhtoons consider it an
act against their sense of honour and contrary to the principles of
Pukhtoonwali to lay their hands on dependent classes such as
blacksmiths, tailors, barbers and butchers etc belonging to the
debtor's village.

Bota and Baramta in the tribal areas have often given rise to inter-
tribal disputes and blood feuds. The British Government in India
often resorted to Baramta in the event of hostilities with the
tribesmen. When the Government failed to cow the tribesmen by force,
it used to resort to this coercive method by seizing cattle,
property, men and women in Baramta wherever they happened to be in
settled districts.

BALANDRA OR ASHAR: Balandra or Ashar can be best described as a
village aid programme 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 honour in the evening.

MEERATA: Maerata 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 abject of removing them
from the line of inheritance and gaining forcible possession of their
lands, houses and other property. This kind of cold blooded murder is
seriously viewed by the tribal law and persons responsible for such
an in-human and ghastly act cannot escape the wrath of Pukhtoons, 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

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: ttbar 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 dishonourable act, un­becoming of gentleman and
contrary to the norms of Pukhtoonwaii. HAMS AY A: The word Hamsaya in
Persian and Urdu stands for a neighbour but in Pashto it applies 1o 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, tt is, therefore, incumbent upon
the protector to save his Hamsaya from insult or injury from any

In some cases the Hamsayas till the lands of their protectors and
render them help in other vocations. But it has no marked bearing on
the Hamsayas' social status and they are traated at par with the
other inhabitants of the village. Barbers, cobblers, butchers,
blacksmiths, carpenters etc can live as Hamsaya.


FAMILY: An attractive feature of the Pukhtoon way of life is the
joint family system which signifies their deep love for the family's
solidarity and welfare. The desire of communal life emanates from a
consideration of economic security and integrity. All the family
members, even the married sons, live jointly in a house large enough
to separately accommodate each married couple under the authority of
the father who. as head nf the family, manages the family affairs and
exercises an immense influence in his own domain.

AH the earning hands of the family, married as well as mi married
sons, contribute their share of income to the common pool of
resources. All expenses

an food, clothing, education, health, birth, marriages and deaths are
defrayed from this common fund, The mantle of authority falls on the
aldest son's shoulders after the death of the father or when old age
renders him unable to discharge his functions efficiently. The system
nt Nikat (ancestral line) which regulates the shares of losses and
gains, debts and liabilities of each family, is the mainstay of
Pukhtoon society. The internal management of the household rests with
the mother who exercises her authority within her own sphere of
influence. The joint family system, however, is gradually giving way
to individualistic trends under the impact of modern influences. It
is losing its hold, particularly on educated classes and well off


The Pukhtoon children are taught to show a great degree of respect to
their parents and elders. Senior members of the family, particularly
elders, command great respect. Parents are properly and reverently
looked after in old age and every effort is made lo provide them with
all possible comforts. There is a famous Pashto maxim that " Paradise
lies under the feet of the parents" and Pukhtoons

true to their faith leave no stnne nn turned in obtaining their
blessings. It is

generally believed that parents' curses bring sorrows, miseries and
hardships. Sons and daughters, therefore, refrain from incurring the
displeasure and curses of their fathers and mothers.

The elder's opinion prevails in all important matters. Kashars or
youngsters of the community rise from their seats as a mark of
respect when an elderly person enters the Hujra. Youngsters are
normally not expected to talk or laugh loudly or smoke a cigarette or
huqqa in the presence of their elders. Even in tribal Jirgas the
younger members of the village are not allowed to speak. Everything
is left to the discretion of their elders.

MANNERS: The Pukhtoons have several ways of greeting and salutation.
Strangers passing on a road or thoroughfare exchange courtesies such
as "Starrey ma shey" (May you not be tired) and "Pa khair raghley"
(welcome). This is answered by "Khutfai de mal sha" (May God be with
you), "Pa khair ossey" IMay you live in peace) and "Ma khwaraigey"
[May you not be poor]. The Pukhtoons usually embrace their friends
and relatives when they meet them after a long absence and warmly
receive each other by a hearty handshake. This is followed by a train
of questions about each others' welfare like "Jorr yey" [Are you
alright?), "Khushal yey" (Are you happy?), "Takkrra yey" (Are you
hale and hearty?) "Warra Zagga Jorr di" (Are your family members hale
and hearty?) and "Pa Kor key Khairyat de" |ls every body well at

A visitor entering a village Hujra is greeted with the traditional
slogan of "Hat Kala Rasha" IMay you always cornel and he replies "Har
ksla ossey" (May you always abide). Friends while parting commit each
other to the care of God by saying "Pa makha de kha" (May you reach
your destination safely), and "Da khudai pa aman" (To the protection
of God).

When meeting a pious or an elderly person, a Pukhtoon bows a little
and keeps his hands on his chest as a mark of veneration. When
talking about a deceased person, they often say "Khudai de obakhi"
|May God forgive him). If a man suddenly appears at the time of
conversation between some or more persons about him, they immediately
exclaim "Qmar de ziyat da, Oss mo yadawalay" (You have a long life,
we were just talking about youl. The Pukhtoons very often use the
word "inshaallah" (God Willing! "Ka Khudai ta mamura wee" "Ka K/ia/r
Wee" |if all goes well) when they promise to accomplish a task at a
particular time.


One of the outstanding characteristics of the Pukhtoons, as gleaned
from their record, is their passionate love for freedom and violent
opposition to any infringement of their liberty. They have preserved
their liberty by the force of arms despite heavy odds. Inspile of
their ignorance of military science, modern techniques of warfare,
lack of sophisticated weapons and material resources, they held their
own against every invader, including the British who were one of the
most powerful empire builders of their time.

Though at times Pukhtoons were temporarily subdued, they could never
be held in permanent subjugation or tied in the shackles of bondage.
They offered staunch resistance to any one who ventured to encroach
upon their liberty and refused to submit tamely to the position of
the vanquished. "Their character, organisation and instincts" says
David Ditcher, "have made them independent and strongly democratic,
so much so that even their own leaders havelittle real control over

It is one of the striking features of Pukhtoons in general and
Afridis in particular that they give up their individual disputes and
tribal feuds, sink their differences temporarily according to the
exigencies of the time, form a Sarishta or take a unanimous decision
for collective action and fight shoulder to shoulder against their
common foe. This most remarkable trait was duly noticed by Edward E.
Oliver. "The most democratic and dis-united people among themselves",
he says, "on-controlled and often un­controllable even by their own
chiefs, ail the clans have uniformly joined in hostility to us
whenever opportunity offered".

The Pukhtoons are fond of firearms which they possess for their
personal protection, honour and defence of their homeland. "They are
never without weapon when grazing their cattle, while driving beasts
of burden; when tilling the soil, only their dots. The love of
firearms is a trait in their character, they will enlist or work in
order to get the wherewithal and buy matchlock or rifle, the latter
being preferred; and if an Afridi at the end of his service has not
sufficient to buy one, he makes no scruples of walking off with his
rifle and ammunition". Being gallant and courageous they love to join
the army principally to show their mettle on the battle field.

Unsurpassed in vigil and marksmanship every Pukhtoon is almost an
army in himself. The writings of many British officers bear testimony
to their magnificent fighting qualities, especially of the Afridis,
Mahsuds and Waziris who are described by them as "careful
Skirmishers" and the best guerilla force of the world in their own
hills. The Frontier, as a matter of-fact, became the best training
ground and an excellent school of soldiering for the British Officers
for about a century. It was on account of their martial qualities
that they are looked upon as the "Sword arm of Pakistan ".

Among redoubtable Pukhtoon adventurers stand out in bold relief the
names of Ajab Khan Afridi. Multan Khan, Kamal Khan, Ajab Khan
Yousafzai. Diiasa Khan, Chakkai and Jaggar,


By and large the Pukhtoons are deeply religious. The land of these
highlanders has experienced the influence of religious leaders for a
long time, who, after making their way into the mountains aroused the
religious sentiments of the local people and rallied them under the
banner of Islam against the enemies of their religion. Besides less
known divines, who occasionally sprang up and played their short but
spectacular part on the stormy stage of the Frontier, the names of
Akhund of Swat, Hadda Mullah, Haji Sahib of Turangzai, Mullah
Powindah, Faqeer of Ipi, Mullah Syed Akbar or Aka Khel Mullah, Gud
Mullah, Lewaney (mad) Mullah, Karbogha Mullah, Faqir of Alingar and
Chaknawar Mullah also figure prominently in the religio political
history of the Frontier. Saints and divines exercised immense
spiritual and political influence over their minds and it was on
account of their religious zeal and fervour that they proclaimed a
holy war {Jehad) against infidels. They fought a number of battles
against the Sikhs under the leadership of Syed Ahmed Barelvi Shaheed
and Syed Ismael Shaheed and later under the influence of the above
noted religious divines and stalwarts.

Owing to their strong religious feelings for their brethren-in-faith,
the Turks, a large number of Pukhtoons, especially the Afridis,
deserted in large number from British army in France , Mesopotamia
and Egypt in the First World War. They were averse to fighting
against their co-religionists and that was why the General Officer
Commanding in Chief, Egyptian Expeditionary Force, was compelled in
November, 1917 to repatriate three Indian officers and 202 other
ranks and all Frontier Pukhtoons of 68th Rifles from Egypt and
recommended ban on their recruitment on account of their "bad

The Pukhtoons are punctilious in offering their daily prayers and
observance of fast during the month of Ramazan. Writing about the
devotion of Pukhtoons to their religion, Major fi. B. Edwards
says, "whatever occupation they might be engaged in, whether business
or pleasure, it was always interrupted at the hour of

prayers". He adds, "in mv tent, which was always full of people
concerned in some case or other, they would break off the
conversation, and ask to be excused for a moment; then take a scarf
and spreading it in the corner towards Mecca , devoutly commence
their genuflections". Each Pukhtoon village has a mosque in which a
Mullah or Pesh-lmam leads the daily prayers and imparts religious
education to the village children. The Mullah is served free meals
and he receives Zakat and alms from village folk.

Alms giving and Zakat is common and Haj is performed by men of means.
Alms giving is especially resorted during adversities and food is
also served to the poor. On the occasion of Eid, Barawafat, Muharram,
Shab-e-Barat and certain other religious day rich food is prepared to
invoke the blessings of Allah.

The holy men, Saints, Sayyids and Mians are held in deep reverence.
They give amulets and charms to the people which are considered to be
antidote to illness, disease, calamity and evil influences. They are
shown utmost respect and their hands are kissed in acknowledgement of
their priety. The practice of Piri-Murid (Teacher student relation in
suphism) is also common. A Pit or religious preceptor guides his
Murid or disciple in his spiritual progress. For this purpose he
takes a Bai'at (affiliates himself) at the hands of the Pir who
enjoys the reputation of holy man and has the ability to guide him in
establishing commission with God. Sometimes lunatics and impostors
are also mistaken for saintly persons. But the younger generation
equipped with modern education and imbued with the spirit of
enlightenment, is immune from such influences.

SHRINES: Being orthodox Muslims with strong religious
susceptibilities the Pukhtoons hold holy men and their shrines in
high esteem. The devotees pay frequent visits to shrines and enter
the presincts bare-footed and entreat the saint's blessings for the
restoration ul falling health, wealth and success in certain other
ventures. The more a saint enjoys reputation, the more his tomb
attracts devotees. Certain liarats (shrines) have a special
reputation for the cure of specific ailments and are credited with
certain other virtues. For example prayers are offered for the birth
of a male child at Ziarat Kaka Sahib and Pir Baba and visits to
several other shrines are considered effective for curing of madness,
rheumatism, dog bites, hysteria and certain other ailments. The
visitors and devotees, particularly women bring back a handful of
salt or gar which is believed to be a cure for illness. For Muslims,
Friday is a sacred day and visits to the shrines are paid on Thursday
or the night preceding Friday. Pukhtoons, like all goad and devout
Muslims, raise their hands and offer Fatsha while passing by a

Shrines are the safest places in tribal areas and the tribesmen keep
their articles in them without any fear of pilfering. No one dares to
lay hands on any article kept in a shrine due to the sanctity of the
place and possible wrath of the buried saint. Reputable shrines are
often under the charge of a care-taker (known as Munjawar in Pashto
and Mtitawaii in Urdu) or a fakir who lives on the premises and
collects donations both in cash and kind from the devotees to provide
water and food to future visitors Hangar). The trees around a shrine
are never cut and the birds enjoy complete safety. The observance of
Urs or annual festival at various Ziarats is also common. The
devotees attend these gatherings annually for two days in large
number and engage themselves in Zikar or religious meditation.

Eid-ul-Fitr or Kamkay Akhtar and Eid-ui-Azha or Loe or Star Akhtar
are the two main festivals which are observed with great zeal. In
some places a fair is held on the Eid day while at others on the day
following the Eid. The boys make large bonfires called Katamirs and
kindle them on a hid top in the evening, preceding the Eid Day. Young
and old alike, wear new clothes on Eid Day, and the entire area wears
a festive look just as Christmas is celebrated by the Christians.

Moharram and Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi or 'Bara Wafat' are also observed
with deep reverence and due solemnity. Pious men among the Pukhloons
engage themselves in prayers particularly during Lailatul Qadar
or "the night of power". On this nigh! the Holy Quran was revealed to
the Holy Prophet of Islam. The night of Lailatul Qadar has been
described in the Holy Quran as better than a thousand months. Muslim
jurists differ in their opinion regarding the date of its occurrence.
Some of them are of the opinion that this night falls on 21st or 23rd
of Ramadan while others believe that it falls on 27th or 29th.
However, all the doctors of Mohammadan Law agree that Lailatul Qadar
falls during the last ten days of the holy month nf Ramazan and every
prayer is accepted on this auspicious occasion.

TOBAY WESTAL: After a persistent dry spell when drought conditions
prevail, the people of the villages headed by the Mullahs come out to
the fields and offer prayers, at least for three consecutive days.
This is called "Tobhay Westal" or supplicating God for rain. Besides,
children of the village come out in streets and collect wheat, maize
and barley from the houses of the village. While collecting grain the
children chant in a chorus:- Ka cha r$ karruloo ghanam -Khudai ha war
kerri sra zarnan (God in turn will give sons to anyone who gives
wheat!, Ka cha ra karraloo joowar, Khudai ha war karri war pa war
(God in turn will give sons one after another who gives maizel Ka cha
ra Karralay Qrbashey • Khudaya ta war Sara Kha shey IMay God bless
those who give us barley). After the collection of grain the children
cook it and after serving it to the poor they pray for rains. They
also go to the nearby graveyard and sprinkle water on graves.

SUPERSTITIONS: Doud Dastoor or customs and traditions are in fact the
product of historical, geographical and economic conditions. Evolved
in process of time, social usages become the guiding principles of
day lo day life and all individuals living in a particular society
feel bound to abide by them.

It is a common phenomenon that customary laws of the masses are not
free from religious and even superstitious influences. In Pukhtoan
customs at least some of them are also not immune from such
influences. The use of amulets and talismans has already been
mentioned. Besides, strange ways and means are devised by them to
protect themselves from the evil eye and evil effects of Jinni and
demons. Pukhtoan women believe that evil spirits cannot come near a
newly born infant if a knife or a dagger is put near its pillow or at
its head. Therefore, they always keep a sharp edged weapon besides
the infant's pillow to ward off evil spirits. The child may be sick
and suffering from diarrhoea, dyspepsia or any other malaise, but the
old grandmother will ascribe it to the influence of some evil
spirits. Instead of taking him to a doctor's clinic for treatment,
she mutters charms and throws red hot metal in cold water to scare
away the evil spirit or a possible evil eye. This, she believes, is
the only remedy to cure the infant's illness. And if these charms do
not work, she is convinced that the child is suffering from throat
trouble. She takes him to some experienced man or woman of the
locality for raising its uvula. This, in Pashto called is Jabai Porta

The raising of uvula is common all over the tribal areas. Some raise
it by putting the index finger inside the child's mouth while otners
put a handkerchief around child's neck and give him a few jolts after
muttering of charms. Not contented with this the mother will put
amulets (Tawiz) round the child's neck as a protection against the
evil eye or Bad Natar. The amulets written by a pious man and woven
in a string are suspended round the child's neck. Some of these
amulets are sewn in a cloth, some are wrapped in a leather or silver
leaf inset with costly stones, depending on the financial position of
the child's parents. Sometimes a black spot (Kalakl is put on the
child's forehead in an attempt to protect him against the evil eye.
In certain clans a child is deliberately kept dirty and ill clad for
warding off the evil spirits. The claws of a leopard or a lion are
also sometimes hung around their necks. The old grandmother also
believes in charms. She takes a handful of wild rue (called Spailanay
in Pashto) which is considered a panacea for warding off a malignant
eye. She puts some wild rue on red hot coals and starts revolving the
bowl round the ailing child while chanting some magic'al
incantations. This is called "Nazar' Matawal" or removing effects of
the evil eye. After the wild rue is burnt it is kept in the door way
of the house with smoke emitting from it. Sometimes an old woman
takes a few red chillies, revolves them round a sick persons's head
and then puts the pods in the fire. There is a famous maxim in Pashto
that the Da ran; ranzoor raghaigee, Da stargo ranzoor na raghaigee",
i.e. 'an ailing person may recover from illness but ailment caused by
an evil eye cannot be cured'. On other occasions a goat or lamb is
slaughtered and the blood of the sacrificed animal is sprinkled on
the door or wall of the house to ward off possible natural
calamities. But as a result of the general rise in education, the
educated tribesmen no longer believe in such superstitions. They take
their children straight to a doctor's clinic in case of illness.

When a baby is carried out of the house, a veil is placed over tts
face to protect it against the possible affect of an evil eye. Some
men and women are notorious for a malignant or evil eye. It is
generally believed that their looks can break even a hard stone into
pieces. Similarly mothers desist from carrying infants while visiting
a house where death has occurred because of fear of Bad Ghag or evil
voice. They also have recourse to some other expedients to guard the
child against evil spirits.

Besides this, several other superstitions are prevalent in Pukhtoan
society. For example, the cawing of the crow on a house wall or top
of a nearby tree is considered as a sign of (he impending arrival of
some guests. Similarly, falling of flour on the ground at the time of
kneading is interpreted to mean that some guests or visitors can be
expected. The howling of dogs at night is considered a bad omen,
indicating the coming sickness or death of some one in the family.

The winking of the right eye lid is taken to mean a happy tiding and
throbbing of a left eye lid as a bad omen. In case of a hiccup, it is
generally believed that an absent friend or relative is remembering.
While removing shoes, if Perchance, one shoe lands on top of the
other, it is thought that the person would undertake a journey in the
near future. If the right palm starts itching, it is believed that
monev will come into his hands. On the contrary if the left hand
itches it is generally believed that the person will lose some money.
Tha crowing of a hen, which is quite un-usual, is considered a bad
omen and it is killed the moment it crows.

The sight of a dirty man or a sweeper early in the morning is
considered un-tuckv. Similarly a distinction is made between
fortunate and unfortunate days. Certain days are considered lucky for
journeys while others are believed to be un-lucky. If a person dies
at a place other than his village or home town, a black hen is
slaughtered before the engine of a car or bus at the time of taking
the corpse to its native place for burial. Similarly a black hen is
slaughtered in between the fore-legs of the horse or mare of the
tonga in which the corpse is carried. The tribal Pukhtoons refrain
from incurring the ill-will of Pirs and Fakirs and even men possessed
with an evil tongue called Tor Jabay. The speech of Tor Jabay is
considered more deadly than a lethal weapon and his curses may become
harbingers of misfortune.

The Pukhtoons generally rely on dreams. The sight of a white or green
object, in a dream, is considered auspicious while black objects,
fire and floods etc are considered inauspicious. They have a strong
belief in destiny. Fate is considered as absolute and un­changeable.

Some strange notions are found among Pukhtoons about the "Whirlwind
of dust which spins abut in autumn;1. It is generally believed that
the whirlwind is caused by a jin. Similarly when a storm blows for
two or three days, the Pukhtoons are heard saying that some innocent
man might have been brutally assassinated somewhere. A child born
feet first is called "Sakki". It is generally believed that "a few
gentle kicks from one, so born", can relieve pain in the back. During
the winter when it rains continuously for a week or so, the children
erect dolls made of flour clay called "Ganjyan". The ganjyan are
considered a means of stopping the rain. The taking of fal or omen
from some religions book is commonly believed and practiced. On Shab-
e-Barat the village women assemble in a house. Each woman puts a
ring, comb or some other object in an empty pitcher and a small hoy
or girl is deputed to take them out one by one. At the time of taking
out an article, a woman recites a few verses such as "Ma jagh kawa ma
spara, Ktwdai ba dar karri pa tayyara" i.e. God will provide you with
food evan without ploughing fields. The belter the verse in
composition, the more it is considered auspicious. In matters
pertaining to superstitions Pukhtoons now do not believe much in
fabulous tales due to the general rise in education. But the
illiterate, particularly those who live in inaccessible hilly tracts,
are comparatively more superstitious than the people living in the
plains. Charms ant) omens are

generally believed in by the un-educated masses, especially the

Though there are several references to the existence of spirits in
the Holy Quran and Ahadilh. yet belief in genii is considered as a
superstition by almost all the European writers. It would not be
without interest for the readers to know some thing about Pukhtoon's
belief in jms. The Pukhtoons believe in genii, evil spirits and
Churail etc. The genii, it is believed, can assume the form of a
human being, beast, animal or of anything they want to. The genii are
stated to be of two kinds believers and non-believers and good and
bad. If a good tempered jin takes a fancy to a person, it will attend
upon him like a faithful and devoted friend, ready to render him any
service even at odd hours. The genii or fairies called Khapairay in
Pashto are particularly known for their friendliness and there are
innumerable tales of fairies sincerely devoted to their male friends.
These creatures, which are described as resplendently handsome, help
their friends in making fortunes. It has almost become proverbial
about a poor man prospering in life that he has drunk a fairy's milk.
Any person possessed by a Jin is believed to have the power of
discovering stolen articles and predicting the future. When asked to
give information about a certain object, he or she will excite
himself or herself in a state of hysteria or induce a trance to make
the predictions.

A man acting like a lunatic is believed to have been possessed by a
Jin. It is a common belief that the Jin possesses the victim's tongue
and controls all his actions. When it occurs, a Sayyid, Mian or a
learned Mullah credited with the power of exorcising the evil spirits
is immediately sent for. He recites a few verses from the Holy Quran
and conjures the jin to depart. The exorcist addresses the jin in a
threatening language to leave, if soft words and entreaty prove of no
avail. When the battle of hot words does not produce the desired
effect, then the exorcist writes a charm on a piece of paper and
burns it under the afflicted man's nose. Recourse is also made to
certain other methods to force the jin to depart. Sometimes the
afflicted person's hand is held in a firm grip by a strong man. He
presses it as hard as he can till the patient starts crying out in
agony and pain and appeals for mercy. It is believed that the jin
speaks through the patient's tongue. The exorcist, therefore, asks it
to leave and swear by Prophet Sulaiman (Solomon], who is believed to
be the king of all genii, not to come again. Sometimes short wooden
sticks are put in between the patient's fingers and his hand is
pressed hard. If this device also fails then the exorcist places a
frying pan on the fire with some ghee (melted butter! in it and
throws a charm in the boiling ghee to make the jin flee or die.

CHIILA: it is a common belief that a man can obtain the services of
genii by means of talismans or certain invocations. For this purpose
he undergoes the rigours of a chilla for a period of forty days.
Chil/a is of two kinds spiritual and temporal. The spiritual
chills is practiced for the purification of the soul whereas the
temporal chilla aims at making wordily gains by means of controlling
genii. During the period when anybody is undergoing the arduous task
of chilla. he remains in a state of meditation, keeps himself aloof
from the people and chooses an un­inhabited or deserted place, for
self-mortification. He follows his Pir's instructions both in letter
and spirit. By sitting within a circle ('Hisar'l drawn around himself
he remains vigilant and contfiiits himself with little food and water
barely able to sustain him. There is the possibility of his becoming
mad, if he moves nut of the circle contrary to his Pir's instructions
or frightened out by the resisting jin. It is said that during the
last few days of Chilla genii appear before the probationer in
horribly hideous shapes to frighten and lurs him out of the circle.
If he, succeeds in completing the prescribed course without fading a
prey to the genii's insidious temptations, he gains control over them
and the leader of the genii appears in person before the man for
carrying ant his orders and all the genii nld and young alike, follow

CHARACTER: "The Pathan has been dubbed cruel, treacherous, miserly
and, in fact, every epithet of an opprobrious nature has been
showered on his devoted head at one time or another by men who were
either incapable of seeing things from the Pathan point of view, and
of making allowances for his short comings, or who ware so hidebound
by the humanity mongering sentimentality, which passes today for the
hall mark of liberal mind that they shudderingly dismissed the Pathan
from their thoughts (presumably with pious ejaculations! as an un-
reclaimable savage".

(The Hon. Arnold Keppel]

The character of the Pukhtoons has always been a favourite theme of
writers. The detractors of Pukhtoons have painted them in the darkest
colours by describing them as savages, brutes, uncouth, cruel and
treacherous, while the sympathetic writers have praised their manly
bearing, open-heartedness and inherent dignity. To the latter set of
historians they are not as barbarous as depicted. Their otherwise
black character is studded with many noble virtues and their vices
are the "Vices common to the whole of the community". Mr. Temple
described them as noble savages "not without some tincture of virtue
and generosity".

The spirit of adventure and enterprise is characteristic o! this
hardy race of hillmen. They have their own sense of dignity and would
not submit to injustice or insult even at the risk of their own life.
The reason of blood feuds is not tlieir vindictive nature or blood
thirstiness but a spirit of liberty and the will to uphold justice,
defend the right and avenge the wrong. Pride of race, consciousness
of natural rights and intolerance of injustice are the remarkable
traits of the Pukhtoon character. "The pride", says H.W. Bellew, "of
the Afghans Is a marked feature of their national character. They
eternally boast of their descent, their prowess in arms and their
independence and cap it all by "am I not a Pukhtoon"."

Tall, muscular and healthy, Pukhtoons are fond of sports and war
alike. Edward E. Oliver's evidence of Pukhtoon character is worth
quoting. "He is", he says "undoubtedly brave to rashness, sets no
value upon life, either his own or anyone alse's. Trained from youth
to feats of strength, endowed with wonderful power of endurance, he
commands the admiration of most Englishmen".

Summing up tha character of Pukhtoons the Hon Mountstuart Elphinstone
wrote, "they are fond of liberty, faithful to their friends, kind to
their dependents, hospitable, brave, hardy, frugal, laborious and

STATUS OF WOMEN: Pukhtoon women do not observe the customary purdah
but they do wear Burqa while paying visits to cities or distant
places beyond their locality. In their outdoor functions, they
however, cover the face and body with a Chaddar (sheet) or Dopalta.
Why the tribal women do not wear burgs or observe purda as invogue in
urban areas, is easy to explain.

Firstly the people of one stock bound together by common ties of
flesh and blood dwell in villages. Secondly, the standard of morality
is very high in Pukhtoon society and cases of moral turpitude are
almost mi-heard of. Moreover, the Pukhtoons are so jealous of the
modesty and sanctity of thair women that they cannot tolerate even
appreciation of the beauty or other attributes of their women by an
outsider or stranger. They consider such an admiration as an insult
to their sense of honour. Immoral practices, especially adultery,
elopement, amorous advances, infidelity and illicit liaison between
man and woman are put down with a heavy hand and death is a normal
penalty in such cases. The guilty pair is generally killed if caught
flagrante delicto. It is because of such deterrent punishment that no
one dare cast an evil eye on a Pukhtoon woman without peril to his

According to the Pukhtoons code of ethics, strangers refrain from
loitering about un-necessarily when women set out for fetching water
or bringing in grass or wood etc. They also desist from speaking to a
woman and similarly it is considered indecent on the part of a woman
to talk to a stranger except when she is in dire need of his help. "A
woman or girl above ten years old", says Robert Warburton who served
as Political Agent in Khyber Agency for eighteen years "is never
permitted to address any male not connected with her by relationship.
A stranger has always to be avoided, and if by any chance a woman
comes across one in a narrow lane or road, she generally cavers Up
her face and stands with her back towards him until he has passed".
It is also one of the etiquettes of the Pukhtoons to lower their
eyes, gaze at the ground and step aside from the path when a woman
comes across their way.

Respect for women is also evident from the fact that she is not
interfered with in case at tribal hostilities, blood feuds, village
affrays or brawls. During the prosecution of feuds women are exempt
from reprisals. It is considered below the dignity of a Pukhtoon to
fire at women and according to tribal customs they are at liberty to
supply food, water and ammunition to their men engaged in firing at a
hill top or entrenchments outside the village. "During the
prosecution of feud," says L. White King, "it is generally understood
that women and children under 12 are exempt from reprisals and are
free to pursue their ordinary avocations without interference." In
this connection Mark remarks that "during the blood feuds it is the
first aim of each party tn gain possession of the water supply of its
opponents, and if it is under fire of the enemy, women who are
theoretically never fired at, have to undertake the dangerous task of
bringing water to the beleaguered garrison". In the words of
Mountstuart Elphinston "no quarter is given to men in the wars, it is
said that the Vizeerees would even kill a male child that falls into
their hands, but they never molest women, and if one of the sex
wanders from her caravan, they treat her with kindness, and send
guides to escort her to her tribe".

Though soma writers have described tribal women as hewers of wood and
drawers of water or only an 'economic asset', they are not socially
as inferior as depicted. No doubt, they work hard but it is only a
division of labour between man and woman. Though the husband plays a
dominant role and the wife a subordinate one in a tribal society,
this does not mean that women do not enjoy any respect. They duly
exercise authority and influence in their own spheres. As a daughter
she is loved, as a wife respected and as a mother venerated. There is
a famous saying of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him] that heaven
lies under the feet of mother, and Pukhtoon hold his mother in high
esteem. She has a great deal of say in her domestic affairs. She
controls the household finances and wields an over-whelming influence
over her sons, daughters and daughters-in-laws.

Besides household work and superintendence of children, the Pukhtoon
code of ethics enjoins upon women not to burst into laughter in the
presence of strangers or persons with whom they are not closely
related; not to address their husbands by name, nor to speak loudly,
and avoid being heard beyond the four walls of the house. The wives
were required in the past to show the utmost regard for their
husbands, remain in attendance while the husband was taking his meals
and walk a few paces behind the husband while he went out of the
house. There is a famous saying that there are two places eminetly
suited for a woman, oen is her own house and the other the grave. But
all this does not hold good any more. The status of woman has
undergone a remarkable change during the past five decades,
principally due to education and economic prosperity. Thanks to the
efforts of Pakistan government, big strides have been taken in the
field of education. At present more than three thousand educational
institutions are functioning in the length and breath of tribal areas
with 2,42,862 students on roll. These include 2,13,021 male and
29,841 female students. The spread of education has immensely
broadened their outlook. Women are no longer considered inferior and
they enjoy the privilege of exerting their healthy and loving
influence in domestic spheres.

It may be recalled that there was a strong prejudice against female
education, particularly in rural areas before the creation of
Pakistan . The conservative and orthodox sections of the society,
felt shy of sending their daughters to schools. It was considered
disgraceful to send daughters out of doors, and there was a growing
feeling that education other than religious, would have a baneful
influence on the mind of the young girls. The parents were
apprehensive that female education would provide an opportunity to
young girls to write amatory letters to young men. But these
prejudices against female education no longer exist. Times have
greatly changed after Independence and a pleasant revolution has
taken place in the ideas of the Pukhtoons about female education.

Tribal women are hardy, industrious, devoted and trust-worthy. They
do the entire household work and also help their husbands in the
fields. They faithfully stand by their husbands both in weal and woe
and resist every foul temptation. "Neither would [ have it inferred
from the anecdote" says Lt. Arthur Conolfy, "that the Afghans ill
treat their women; on the contrary, they are both proud and fond of
them. Those who dwell in the country have such confidence in their
women that if they absent themselves from their homes, they leave
their wives in charge of their establishment and a married woman may
without a shadow of scandal entertain a traveller who happens to
arrive at her husband's tent during his absence".

Toora (literally Sword, but means bravery! and Marrana {chivalry and
courage! are considered essential traits of Pukhtoon character and
women feel proud of husbands possessing such laudable attributes.
They possess courage themselves and admire such qualities in others.
Even in their folk songs they exhort their lovers to display bravery
and courage on the field instead of running away like cowards. The
following Pashto couplet and hundred others best illustrate their
earnest desire that their near and dear ones should perform acts of
valour and heroism on the battlefield: Translation:

May you come riddled with bullets, The news of your dishonour,
cowardice may not reach my ears.

Writing about the courage of Pukhtoon women Mrs Starr who served as a
staff nurse in Mission Hospital for a number of years says, "the
women are not a bit behind the men in pluck. I remember one, typical
of many, who, though unable to move and unlikely to live owing to a
severe bullet wound, invariably replied to any enquiry on my part "I
am well; 1 am all right". See, she is an Afridi, said her man
proudly." Pukhtoons go to any length in defence of their women folk
and their history is replete with many daring examples. One such
example was furnished by Ajab Khan Afridi, the hero of the famous
Miss Ellis drama on the Frontier. In March 1923, the Frontier
Constabulary, with the help of regular British troops, raided Ajab
Khan's village in Dara Adam Khel. The troops with scant regard for
the sanctity of women, searched his house and according to certain
reports women were subjected to search and insult. This news beat
across his mind like a thunder-bolt and Ajab Khan's anger knew no
bounds. Infuriated by the alleged insulting behaviour of the British
troops, he vowed to wipe out the insult with insult and retrieve his
honour by a similar action. He raided the enemy's houses and
succeeded in lifting Miss Ellis from the heart of Kohat cantonment.
He, however, treated the girl honourably and released her after
redemption of his honour.

Pukhtoon women wear simple dress. It consists of a Partoog
(Trousers), Qamees (Shirt) and a Dupatta (chaddar or scarf). Old
women prefer loose and baggy trousers, long shirts with wirier
sleeves and coloured clothes. Fashionable clothes and footwear are
now becoming popular among the new generation owing to constant
intermingling of the tribesmen with the inhabitants of cities. New
dresses are becoming common, as tribal girls are not averse to modern
comforts and fashions. With the march of time, old heavy silver
ornaments have been discarded and replaced by modern and delicate
ones. Pukhtoon women use a variety of jewellery such as pendants,
bracelets and necklaces. The pendants include Paizwan, Nata or Natkai
(large nose rings), Ohargul, Peeia and Maikhakay (small nose
ornaments), Wallai. Jarmootey, Dewadi and Duroona [large ear rings),
and Taek worn on the forehead. The bracelets comprise of Wakhi,
Bavoo, Karrey and Bangri or bangles. Haar and Tawaazoona may be
mentioned among necklaces. Besides the use of silver ornaments called
Sangley {Pazaibj worn round feet near ankle, Qgey or neclet, Zanzeer
or chain and finger rings, are also in common use.

The Paizwan is suspended below the nostril edge. Chaegut and fl/ata
are worn on the right side of the outer part of the nose and
Maikhakai and Peeta, comparatively smaller ornaments, are worn on the
left side of the nose. Haar and Taweezoona consist of three to five
flat silver pieces about one and half inch square each, are worn over
the breast. The ZanzBBt, a silver ornament about ten inches in length
and imbedded with shining stones, is also suspended from the shirt
collar on the breast.


HUJRA: The Hujra which represents the sociable character of the
Pukhtoons is a useful institution and it plays a pivotal role in
their daily life. It serves as a club, "dormitory, guest house and a
place for ritual and feastings". It is a centre for social activities
as well as a Council Hall for the settlement of family and inter-
tribal disputes. It is used as a male dormitory where bachelors of
the village sleep. It is a guest house where guests are jointly
entertained by village folk and a community centre for betrothals,
marriages and social functions. Even condolences are offered in the
Hujra on the demise of a person and here sympathy is expressed with
the bereaved family. It is a place of public resort where village
elders and youngsters get-together in their leisure hours to discuss
tribal, national and international affairs and matters of mutual
interest. "The guests and strangers are fed and sheltered free of all
charges in the village Hujras".

The Hujra and Jirga are inter related. It is not only a meeting place
of the villagers but it is also used as a platform for the Jirga's
meetings where important decisions are made and family quarrels and
tribal disputes are amicably resoived. In some places the Hujra
happens to be the property of one man but in tribal areas it is a
common property. Hujra, bubble bubble ICheelamj and Rabab (String
instrument) and an earthen pitcher are inseparable and areconsidered
its part and parcel. Though the bubble bubble still retains its old
placa yet the music of Rabab with the accompaniment of the pitcher is
vanishing and their place is being taken up by radio, transistor and
television sets.

The Hujras are generally well fortified. They have one or two towers
with a loopholed parapet for the purpose of defence of the village
and firing down and along the wall in case of an outbreak of
hostilities. The youngsters of the village in general and bachelors
in particular sleep in the Hujra to guard the village in case of
blood feuds. The Htijra usually consists of two 01 three rooms with
adjacent veranda and a courtyard. A number of bedsteads or charpaees,
pillows and quilts and praying rugs available in Hujra for the

JIRGA: "A mass meeting of the elders of the whole of the Afridi
tribe, for instance, would correspond very much to the
old 'Shiremote' of the Saxon heptarchy; and, indeed, there is more in
the simile than one would expect at first glance, for the democratic
spirit that is so characteristic a feature in the gradual growth of
English customs finds its counterpart in the spirit of liberty and
right of free action that is one of the most cherished prerogatives
of the Pathan tribesmen, be he ever so humble".

(The Hon. Arnold Kepple).

Democracy is not alien to the rjenius of the Pukhtoons, as they
arecarrying on their typical and rudimentary form of government on
democratic principles since times immemorial. A unique feature of
tribal life is the Jirga system, a council or assembly of tribal
elders which closely resembles the Athenian democracy of the City
States of ancient Greece . This participatory sort of democracy was
practiced by the Pukhtoons long before Locks, Rouseau and other
eminent philosophers expounded their theories about democracy.

Pukhtoonwali is the code of ethics of the Pukhtoons, the Jirga their
Parliament or National Assembly and intrepidity and frankness an
essential trait of their character. An atmosphere of equality
pervades in tribal area and even a poor man dressed in rags considers
himself equal to his adversary or his rich compatriot. This spirit is
well reflected in their Jirga system, which, like the ancient Greek
democratic institutions signifies their love for democracy.

The Jirga of today also plays an important and constructive role in
solving the tribal matters. It is an authority for settling disputes
and dispensing even-handed justice to all and sundry irrespective of
their social status, influence and wealth. All matters including the
question of peace and war within tribal limits, fall within the
purview of the Jirga. It consists of the leading Maliks and tribal
elders. There are no hard and fast rules for the selection of Jirga
members. All tribal elders Speen Geeri or (grey-bedrdsj are
considered eligible for its membership and each one of them has a
right to speak and freely express his opinion. However, Jirgas
generally consist of persons known for their honesty and integrity.
The Jirga exercises both executive and judicial roles and settles all
disputes pertaining to the distribution of land, property, blood
feuds, blood money and other important inter-tribal affairs an the
basis of tribal conventions, traditions and principles of justice. It
performs judicial functions while settling a dispute and discharges
police functions when a threat to peace and tranquility or danger to
the life and property exists within tribal limits.

The Jirga usually deals with inter- tribal affairs and serves as an
instrument for dispensing speedy and cheap justice. After careful
consideration, the Jirga decides the disputes on the basis at
available evidence.

The Jirga assembles in a Hujra or a village mosque or in an open
field outside the village under a shady tree. The Jirga members
usually sit in a circle without any presiding officer. This Round
Table Conference like a meeting without a chaiiman deafly reflects
their love of democracy and principle of equality irrespective of
birth, wealth etc.

The Jirga conducts its proceedings in a simple manner. It interviews
both the parties, gives them a patient hearing and examines witnesses
to ascertain the facts of the case. After searching enquiries, the
Jirga makes every possible endeavour to find an impartial and
acceptable solution of the problem. The Jirga's decision is generally
based on Shariat, local traditions, justice and fair play. In serious
cases the Jirga asks a party to clear itself of the imputed charge by
an oath on the Holy Quran. This seals the issue once for all, as the
religion is an extremely strong a force. It announces its decision
only when the majority of its members reach an agreement. But Jirga
members deem it prudent to obtain the consent of both the parties
before making its verdict public. This practice is known as WAAK or
IKHTIAR IPower of attorney). It is through the instrument of Waak or
Ikhtiar that the Jirga commits both the parties to abide by its
decision. The Waak also gives a binding force or some sort of legal
cover to the Jirga's verdict and it becomes incumbent upon the
parties concerned to honour its verdict.

The Jirga reprimands the party which refuses to accept its award. En
popular parlance this refusal to abide by the verdict of Jirga is
called MAKH ARAWAL (lit, turning of face) or expression of
disapproval over the party's behaviour. In such a case the Jirga also
resorts to punitive measures for enforcement of its decision which
includes fine in money and burning of the houses of the recalcitrant
members. It is because of such stringent action that no one dares
violate a Jirga's decision after customary approval in the form of
Waak or Ikhtiar. The Jirga does not interfere in small and petty
family disputes until a formal request is made by a party to
intercede on its behalf. Moreover in cases of grave concern and
serious nature, the Jirga assembles on its own and persuades the
parties concerned to submit to its award.

The Jirga meeting usually lasts for a day or two, but in some
complicated cases, its deliberations are prolonged to three or four
days. It remains, however, the utmost endeavour of the Jirga to
settle the dispute amicably as early as passible.

It is also one of the functions of the Jirga to ensure law and order .

Customs relating to Birth, Marriage & Death

BIRTH: The expected advent of the child is kept secret as far as
possible. The expectant mother is kept secluded and only an old woman
proficient in midwifery or one or two female relatives are allowed to
attend to her. The birth of a female child generally passes un-
noticed but the birth of a male child is a gayful event; an occasion
of rejoicing and festivity. This is because of the fact that the very
existence of an individual under a tribal system, largely depends
upon the strength of arms and man power. Secondly the tribal society
is patriarchies in structure where the law of inheritance rests with
the male line. Far more importance is, therefore, attached to sons as
compared to daughters. This, however, does not mean that daughters
are deprived of paternal affection.

The news of a male child's bitth is a happy tiding for parents as
well as for near relatives. The news spreads like wild fire in the
neighbourhood and messengers hasten to distant places to break the
happy tidings to paternal and maternal uncles etc. This is called
Zaitsy. The parson who breaks the good news first to a near relative
receives a handsome reward in cash. Relatives and friends felicitate
the proud parents and let off their guns as a mark of jubilation. The
father warmly receives the guests, slaughters a ram or goat and
serves a sumptuous lunch to the visiting guests. Sweetmeats are also
distributed among the young and old alike.

Female relatives also hurry to the house to offer congratulations to
the child's parents. They bring presents, including clothes for the
infant and also offer some money. A record of the money, so
proffered, is kept for repayment on a similar occasion. All women who
offer money are given Loopatas (Scarfs) in addition to sweetmeats.

The first important ceremony in the child's life is performed by the
village Mullah or priest or an old pious man. The Mullah whispers
Azaan (call to prayers or profession of faith] in his or her ears.
The village Mullah receives some money for this religious service.
The child is also given a dose of indigenous medicine called Ghotti.
This liquid compound is administered to the child by a pious woman,
preferably mother of several sons. Within seven days of the birth,
the child is named as Ayub, Ali, Ishaq, Yaqoob, Aisha, Fatima etc as
the custom of naming children after the Prophets, particularly
Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him! and his companions, is very common.

The infant is wrapped in swaddling clothes with his hands tied to his
body. This binding practice continues for over six months. The idea
behind the binding of infants from shoulders to toes seems to be to
prevent him from exhaustion or causing an injury to himself. For most
of the time during the day, the child is kept in a swinging cradle
which is in common use all over the sub-continent. At night the child
is laid beside its mother. The child entirely belongs to the mother,

feeds it, at least, for two years and makes every possible endeavour
to protect it from the malignant eye or the glance of evil spirits.

Those women who have no male issue pay visits to they holy shrines on
Thursday nights and beseech the favours of the holy saints for a male
child. They offer alms and sometimes bind a stone to one of the flags
hanging beside a wall or tree near the saint's mazar. They add one
more flag to the existing numbers when their cherished desire is
realised. Those women who give birth to females in succession without
any male issue, curse their misfortune and shed tears of remorse on
the birth of a female child.

After the child's birth, precautionary measures are taken to protect
the mother from evil spirits and genii. She does not take a bath, at
least, for a fortnight after the birth of the child. The mother is
never left alone in the house at least for forty days in succession
for fear of evil spirits. It is generally believed that both mother
and child are susceptible to the influence of genii etc during the
first forty days.

The mother refrains from doing any work for a week and she resumes
her usual occupations after a lapse of 40 days.

SAP KALAI (Head-Shaving): The second important ceremony in a child's
life is Sar Kalai or hair cutting. When the child is about 40 days
old, his or her hairs are shaved by a village barber. The barber is
given some money for this service. This event is also celebrated with
the slaughter of a goat or sheep for guests,

SOONAT (Circumcision): The third important ceremony is know as Soonal
i.e. Circumcision of a male child. The Circumcision ceremony is again
performed by the village barber when the boy is over one year old. On
this occasion the boy is made to sit on an earthen platter called
Khanak in the compound of the house duly attended by his relatives.
They also offer some money to the child. This ceremony is observed by
well-to-do persons with pomp and sumptuous feast.

SCHOOLING: In the fourth stage the child, generally is sent to a
Mullah in the village mosque for religious education, including
learning by heart of Namat and reading of the Holy Quran. He is first
taught Kalma Tayyaba and later other tenets of Islam. He also starts
going to school at the age of five to six years. Along with spiritual
and temporal education he makes a debut in sports of masculine
nature, including wrestling called Parzawal. Later he adopts shooting
as his hobby. After school hours he goes on shooting excursions and
shoots down birds. He uses a catapult like weapon called Ghulail \ohunting. In this stage of life he develops an aptitude for sporting
excursions such as target shooting and finally starts going round
with a rifle slung over his shoulder for self protection. At that
time he begins helping his father in his work. The young girl on the
other hand assists her mother in household work and shares the
domestic duties with her.

Pulchtoons are fond of rifles and young boys can be seen carrying
rifles under their arms. Seldom will they be seen un-armed. Their
fondness for arms is evident from a Pashto proverb that though they
might not have good food they must ibe in possession- of fine arms.

VUAOAH (Marriage): Wadah as a general rule, is arranged by parents in
Pukhtoon society and the boy and the' girl themselves do not play any
role in the negotiations. This is because of the fact that Pukhtoons
are conservative by nature. Their conservatism coupled with strict
segregation of sexes makes it impossible for a suitor to select a
girl of his own choice even though they may have soft feelings for
each other. "The Pathan, in sentiment, will sympathise with lovers in
poetry and fiction, but lovers in real life pay for it with their
lives". The

Pukhtoon society frowns upon any one, who expresses his likeness for
any particular girl. But now ihis trend is gradually undergoing a

In the 19th and early 20th centuries several peculiar customs were
prevalent among the Pukhtoons, particularly the Afridi, about
betrothals. Some of them are:-

1. iaman Shlawal: (literally 4earing skirt!. Any woman who was
first in tearing the swaddling cloth of the newly born girl could
establish her claims on the infant. However, marriages under "Laman
Shlawal" used to take place among the relatives, but with the spread
of education this old custom is fast vanishing,

2: Neewaka [literally to catch or lay claim) can be interpreted
as an assertion of claims. This is another custom underwhich marriage
can be solemnized even against the wishes of the girl's parents.
Public claim through Neewaka debars others from making overtures to
the girl's family for her hand. Marriages under 'Neewaka' often take
place among relatives, especially the first cousins. This custom is
also disappearing with the passage of time.

3. Kweihdan (Betrothal): As is common everywhere, the parents
cherish a desire to gel their sons married to pretty and virtuous
girls of respectable families. But in the tribal areas more
importance was attached to the strength of arms and family influence
of a girl's parents than beauty or othsr attainments of the bride-to-
be. With the ushering in of an era of peace and tranguility this
trend has however, undergone'a drastic change. The boy is now also
consulted while selecting a girl and his views are given due weight
in educated families.

.Customary overtures, for betrothal commence with a visit by the
mother or sisters of the boy, to the girl's parents. Negotiations for
matrimony are undertaken either by the parents themselves or by
friends and relatives. As a precautionary measure the girl's parents
make searching enquiries about the character, education, occupation
and other attributes of the prospective son-in-law. After an informal
agreement has been reached, the boy's parents approach the girl's
parents in a formal way i.e. a Jirga consisting of relatives and
village elders calls on the father or elder member of the girl's
family. Similarly a female party calls on her mother on the day of
public proposal. The Jirga settles terms and conditions regarding
ornaments, clothes, Mehr (dowryl and Sar (bride's price or head
money). The ceremony is rounded off with distribution of sweats among
the people in the Hujra.

WALWAR: Wa/war or head-money, which forms part of the negotiations,
is also determined at the time of engagement. In accordance with the
Jirga's decision the suitor's parents agree to pay in cash the
stipulated amount to the girl's parents on the day of marriage. A
part of the payment, is made on the spot. The rest of the money is
paid on the marriage day. The dowry is usually meagra.

The practice of head-money or bride's price has sometimes been
criticized as a sort of business Transaction or selling out of the
girl. This criticism is based on ignorance of problems of the
tribesmen. The head-money does not mean that the girl is sold out
like a marketable commodity or she is an "economic asset". The idea
underlying is to provide some financial relief 10 the girl's parents
while purchasing gold or silver ornaments, clothes, house-hold
utensils etc far their daughters. If viewed from the Pukhtoon point
of view, the head-money is a matter of honour for them. The more the
bride's price the more she commands respect in her husband's family.
Even wealthy and prosperous parents, who otherwise do not stand in
need of the head money, reluctantly have to accept this for
preservation of honour of their daughters in her in-law's circles.

Inspite of the medical opinion that marriages among close relatives
have the risk of congenital defects in the off spring, the practice
of consanguineousmarriages, particularly with first cousins is a
common phenomenon. An exchange of betrothals, particularly cousins is
also generally effected. The Pukhtoons feel reluctant to marry their
daughters outside the family or tribe and they, therefore, prefer
marriages among blood relations. Preference is given to girls of
one's own tribe or sub-tribe, in case no girl is available within the
family. There is no fixed age for betrothals and they usually take
place a year or two before the marriage. In some cases engagements
are contracted in childhood.

PAKHA AZADA: Pakha Azada or Pkhay Artha means free visits between the
fiancee and fiance's families. These calls upon each other begin a
few days after the betrothal. The prospective bridegroom's parents
pay a visit to the girl's house and present her with a gold ring or a
pair of silken clothes. They also send her presents on Eid and other
auspicious occasions. This is called Barkha or the girl's share. Once
the girl is engaged, she starts observing purdah from her would be in-
laws, both men and women.

WAOAH (Marriage): Marriage ceremonies usually take place on Thursday
and Fridays. Marriage festivities commence three days before the
scheduled date of the actual marriage. At night village maidens
assemble in the bridegroom's house and sing epithalamia called
Sandaras to the beat of drums and tambourine. Three or four
respectable but elderly women' visit the house of the bride a night
before the marriage for dying her hands and feet with henna and for
braiding her hair into three or more plaits. The braiding of hair is
generally entrusted to a woman with several male children. The
bride's Jorra or special bridal dress and ornaments etc are normally
sent a day before the marriage. The bridegroom serves two meals to
his own guests as well as the bride's villagers. Usually the feast is
given on the wedding day.

' JANJ (Marriage Party): The bridal procession is called Janj. On
the day of a marriage, the village of the bridegroom wears a happy
look. Old and young alike, wear their best clothes. The marriage
party or Janj generally starts for the bride's village at noon time
with musicians leading the procession. The Wra or female marriage
party starts from the village to the sound of drums and the male
participants let off their guns.

NAKHA WEESHTAL (Target Shooting}: The Pukhtoons are fine shots.
Target shooting is one of their favourite games and a fascinating
feature of the marriage ceremonies. The bride's villagers invite the
bridegroom's party to target shooting competition. The challenge is
accepted by the others to show their mettle. The target is generally
placed in a cliff, a rocky defile or at a place where it hardly comes
in the range of the bullet. It is also one of the tribal customs that
the Janj does not leave the village without hitting the target. The
man who hits the target first receives a Lungi (a turban) as a prize
for his accurate marksmanship.

NIKAH (Wedlock): The target shooting over, friends and relatives of
the bridegroom assemble in the village mosque for Nikah, by the Pesh-
lmam or the religious leader. On this occasion the bride proposes the
name of bridegroom's brother, uncle or any other near relative as her
ftlikah Father (Attorney). It becomes the moral duty of NikahVather
to give paternal love and affection to the bride and treat her at par
with his own children.

The Pesh-lmam repeats the names of the bride and bridegroom three
times and seeks the approval of the bridegroom in the presence of two
witnesses and some village elders. After this he recites a few verses
from the Holy Quran and declares the couple wedded to each other. The
Imam is given some money for this religious service.

NAINDRA: At the time of Nikah, friends and relatives of the
bridegroom contribute money to lighten his financial burden. This is
called Naindra. It can be likened to a debt of honour or some sort of
financial help repayable to the donors on a similar occasion. A
proper record of the subscriptions is maintained and the names of the
subscribers are entered into a note book for future reference.

RUKHSATI: While men remain busy in target shooting, the female party
gives a display of its skill in singing and folk

dances. Divided into two groups they sing in the form of a duet.
Sometimes they form a circle and dance and sing in a chorus. This is
called Balbala. After this the parents bid farewell to the bride.

The bride is handed over to the bridegroom's relatives in a solemn
ceremony. One of her younger brothers conducts her to a /to//or a
palanquin and a handful of money is showered over the Deli. The bride
accompanied by the marriage party is led to a car or bus. The doli is
carried on the shoulders if the distance is less than a mile. On the
way back home one can witness scenes of merry making. The female
party sings happy songs and men fire crackers and volleys of shots in
the air.

On arrival at the village, the village youths carry the doli to the
bridegroom's house. They do not place the doli on the ground till
they are rewarded. After this the bride is made to sit on a decorated
cot. All the women hasten to see her face. The mother-in-law or
sister-in-law take the lead in un veiling her face and other female
relatives follow suit. This is called Makh Katal. The bride is
presented with some money on this occasion. The record of such
donations is also kept for re-payment on a similar occasion. Thus the
marriage ceremony conies to an end with the transfer of the bride
from her natal to marital house and distribution of sweats both in
the Htijra and the house.

Wealthy people make a display of pomp and show at the time of
marriage. The services of dancing girls and musicians are acquired to
entertain the guests. However, such a display of extravagance is now

The Pukhtoons in general feel reluctant to give their daughters in
marriage to non-Pukhtoons but they are not averse to marrying girls
of respectable non-Pukhtoon families. It is not usual for a Pukhtoon
to take spouse from another tribe. They also disapprove of overtures
for the hand of a younger daughter in the presence of an un-betrothed
elder daughter.

Marriages with widowed sisters-in-law are common and a brother
considers it his bounden duty to marry the widow of his deceased
brother. The widow, however, is not compelled to marry her brother-in-
law or anyone else for that matter against her wishes. In most cases
widowed Ptikhtoon women prefer not to marry after the death of their
husbands. If she has children, it is thought mast becoming to remain

Child marriages are un-common. Polygamy is practiced on a limited
scale. A Pukhtoon takes a second wife only when the first one is
issueless or differences between the husband and wife assume
proportions beyond compromise. Divorces are not common as the
Pukhtoons abhor the very idea of a Talaq ar divorce. The word
Zanlalaq lone who has divorced his wife) is considered an abuse and
against the Pukhtaon's sense of honour. Such an abuse sometimes
results in murders and blood feuds.

DEATH: The Pukhtoons are very social, humane and friendly. They share
each other's joys and sorrows. Their sympathetic behaviour can be
judged from the fact that they give more importance to participation
in funeral processions than festive occasions like marriages etc.

At the time of someone's death, the elders of the surrounding
villages come to the village Hujra to express their sense of grief
and sympathy with the bereaved family and the youngsters hasten to
the graveyard for digging a grave and making necessary funeral
arrangements. The women of the neighbourhood also go to the house of
the bereaved family carrying articles of daily use such as sugar,
gut, wheat, rice etc and to offer condolences.

The moment any one expires, his eyes are closed, toes tied, face
turned towards KaSba and placed on a cot Icharpaeel in the courtyard.
Women sit around the dead body in a circle and weep over it in
unison. The lamentation is generally joined by the females of lire
neighbourhood. Embracing the wife, mother and sisters of the deceased
and wailing over the passing away of their dear ones, is the
traditional way of lamentation and expression of sorrow. The wailing
also includes words in praise of the deceased. Such praise
assumes "the form of the chanting of short rhythmical phrases of
rhymed prose or verse". This presents such a sad spectacle that it

makes even the onlookers burst into tears. Some women, in a stats of
deep anguish, resort to Weer i.e. beating of face and chest with both
hands and with loud sobs, The burial takes place on the day of death,
if the death occurs in the morning, otherwise on the following day.

Weeping in the house continues for at least three days but it
sometimes continues intermittently for a fortnight or even forty
days. No marriages take place among the deceased's near relatives
till the first anniversary of the deceased is observed.

FUNERAL: Before burial, the corpse is bathed by the village Mullah or
some other old man. The dead body is usually washed in the veranda or
in a corner of the house. A few candles or a lamp is lighted at this
place in the evening for at least three nights to scare away the evil
spirits, and people avoid passing over the spot. After the bath the
dead body is wrapped in a shroud, placed on a bier, a sheet thrown
over it and then taken to the village graveyard in a funeral
procession. The funeral procession is preceded by a Mullah and three
or four persons, carrying the Holy Quran on their heads. Friends and
relatives join the funeral procession and carry the bier turn by
turn. Even passers-by become the pal-bearers and accompany the
procession for some distance for the attainment of Sawab (pious act).
The Janaza prayers (recitation of the burial service by an Imam]
joined by mourners from all over the area, are offered in the
community graveyard and then the body is lowered into the grave which
is always dug north to south with iis face turned towards the

Kaaba. Later special prayers are offered for the eternal peace of the
departed soul. After the burial, alms are distributed among the poor
and indigent at the graveyard. This is called /skat. The Pukhtoons
consider the payment of Iskat as an essential part of the religious
service and a question of their prestige.

DRAIMA: The third day of the death is called Draima in Pashto or
Ou/'m Urdu. The day is observed with due solemnity. The women of the
vicinity assemble in the deceased's house on that day. They pay a
visit to the graveyard in the morning, lay a floral wreath on the
grave and offer Faiaha. Meanwhile, friends and relatives continue
pouring into the village Hujra for offering condolences. This
practice continues at least for seven days.

SALWEKHTI: The 40th day of the death is called Salwekhti in Pashto.
The day is rounded off with Khatm-e-Quran, Khairat and distribution
of alms. It is observed on a Thursday, five or seven weeks after the
day of death.

One laudable custom among the Pukhtoons is that the villagers take
upon themselves to supply meals and tea to the bereaved family for
three consecutive days after the death. They also look after the
guests of the family in the village Hujra. In certain cases the food
is continuously supplied for seven days.

The Pukhtoons have an immense love for their motherland. They cherish
a desire to be buried in their ancestral graveyards beside their near
and dear ones. In case they die in a foreign land their bodies are
brought home for burial

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