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Pashtuns, sometimes spelled Pushtuns, or Pakhtuns, or Pukhtuns, (Urdu: Pathan, Persian: Afghan), are the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan and the second largest in Pakistan. Their mother language is Pashto, but many of them also speak neighboring Urdu, Hindko and Dari languages. They are the original or native people of the area south of the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan and west of the Indus River in Pakistan. However, in the modern period, they have spread to cities outside their native land. According to researchers, the total population of the group is estimated to be around 50 million.
Many Pashtuns believe that their ancestors were ancient Hebrews who arrived to what is now Afghanistan over 2,000 years ago and settled there.  They were first mentioned by a Greek historian in 500 BC, then by Alexander the Great, and in the 3rd century they are called "Abgans" ("Afghans") by the Persian rulers. In the army of the Ghaznavids and Ghurids, thousands of Afghans were reported to be serving. They ruled Delhi Sultanate in the past and also Persia between 1725 to 1729 until they established the last Afghan empire that became what is now Afghanistan.
The Pashtun people follow a strict code of honor, known as Pakhtunwali, that requires them to support the poor, the weak, and the challenged; to fight evil; to provide shelter to anyone who needs it and many more. Pashtun are also strict with obedience in their families and society. They are also known as the best at welcoming guests and taking good care of them. They really love to see respectful people in society, with great manners and obedience.
The Pashtuns are mostly farmers, herdsmen, and warriors but many of them are also businessmen and politicians. Most tribesmen are sedentary farmers, combining cultivation with animal husbandry; some are migratory herdsmen and caravaners. Large numbers of them have always been attracted to military service.
Populations in Afghanistan
In Afghanistan, Pashtun make up around 50% of the total population. They form about 60 tribes of different size and importance, each of which occupies a different territory. In Afghanistan, where Pashtun are the major ethnic group, the main tribes are the Durrani, who mostly live in the south and west, and the Ghilzai, who live in northern and eastern parts of the country.
Populations in Pakistan
They are over 15% of Pakistan's population, with Peshawar and Quetta being their principal cities. They predominate north of Quetta between the Sulaiman Range and the Indus River. Significant number of Pashtuns also live in most other major Pakistani cities, particularly Karachi, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, and Lahore. In the hill areas the main tribes are, from south to north: the Tarin, Kakaṛ, Sherani, and Ustarana south of the Gumal River; the Maḥsud, Darwesh Khel, Waziri, and Biṭani between the Gumal River and Thal; the Turi, Bangash, Orakzay, Afridi, and Shinwari from Thal to the Khyber Pass; and the Mahmand, Utman Khel, Tarklani, and Yusufzay to the north and northeast of the Khyber.
Notes and references
- Lewis, Paul M. (2009). "Pashto, Northern". SIL International. Dallas, Texas: Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=pbu. Retrieved 2012-06-30. "Ethnic population: 49,529,000 possibly total Pashto in all countries."
- "Pashtun." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2010.
- Houtsma, Martijn Theodoor (1987). E.J. Brill's first encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913–1936. 2. BRILL. p. 151 of 550. . https://books.google.com/books?id=GEl6N2tQeawC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA151#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved 24 September 2010.
- National Geographic, Travel, Countries, Afghanistan Quiz http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/afghanistan-quiz/
- "The World Factbok – Afghanistan". The World Factbook/Central Intelligence Agency. University of Missouri. October 15, 1991. http://www.umsl.edu/services/govdocs/wofact90/world12.txt. Retrieved 2011-03-20. "_#_Ethnic divisions: Pashtun 50%..."
- "Ethnic groups". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/in_depth/world/2001/war_on_terror/key_maps/ethnic_pashtun.stm. Retrieved 7 June 2013. "Pashtun: Estimated to comprise more than 45% of the population, the Pashtuns have been the dominant ethnic group in Afghanistan."
- "Afghan Population: 30,419,928 [Pashtun 42%"]. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). 2012. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2119.html?countryName=Afghanistan&countryCode=af®ionCode=sas&#af. Retrieved 2012-06-30.
- Janda, Kenneth; Jeffrey M. Berry and Jerry Goldman (2008). The Challenge of Democracy: Government in America (9 ed.). Cengage Learning. p. 46 of 647.
- "Afghanistan's complex ethnic patchwork". The Asian Wall Street Journal. Tehran Times. March 10, 2011. http://old.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=237210. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
- "Pathans". Faqs.org. 2003. http://www.faqs.org/minorities/South-Asia/Pathans.html. Retrieved 2010-09-20.
- "About Afghanistan - Ethnic Divisions". http://www.afghanistans.com/Information/defaulf.htm. Retrieved 2010-09-24.
- Christensen, Asger (1995). Aiding Afghanistan: the background and prospects for reconstruction in a fragmented society. NIAS Press. p. 46 of 170.
- Congressional Record. Government Printing Office. p. 10088. https://books.google.com/books?id=qImZpu07_UEC&lpg=PA9979&pg=PA10088#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved 2010-09-24.
- Taylor, William J. Jr.; Abraham Kim (2000). Asian Security to the Year 2000. DIANE Publishing. p. 58.
- Brown, Keith; Sarah Ogilvie (2009). Concise encyclopedia of languages of the world. Elsevie. p. 845 of 1283.
- Hawthorne, Susan; Bronwyn Winter (2002). 11 September 2001: feminist perspectives. Spinifex Press. p. 225 of 500.
- "The ethnic composition of afghanistan in different sources". http://www.hewad.com/ethnic.htm. Retrieved April 22, 2012.
- "Pakistan". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/pk.html. Retrieved 2013-12-24.