Pathan - History and Cultural Relations

The origin of the Pathan is debated. Linguistic evidence indicates Indo-European ancestry, while some tribal genealogies claim Semitic links. The regions of Afghanistan, eastern Iran, and western India have been some of the most heavily invaded in history and so the Pathan of today are probably a heterogeneous group. Among the invaders who have entered and established empires in the area have been Iranians, Greeks, Hindus, Turks, Mongols, Uzbeks, Sikhs, British, and Russians. The first historical reference to the Pathan (AD. 982) refers to Afghans living in the Sulaiman Mountains. The first significant impact they had outside of that area was as troops in the armies of Mahmud of Ghazni, a Muslim Turk, who led a number of invasions against the Hindu kings in north India around the year 1000. Nearly 300 years later Afghan kings themselves took power in Delhi. The Pathan Khaljis and later Lodhis ruled there until displaced by Babur, the first of the Mogul emperors, in the early sixteenth Century. It is ironic that Pathan kings ruled India before they ruled the mountainous areas to the west that are their Homelands. That feat was not accomplished until 1747 when, from a base in Qandahar, Ahmed Shah Abdali fused together an empire that encompassed parts of Iran and India as well as Afghanistan. Members of his tribe ruled a more truncated Afghanistan until 1973. British involvement in Pathan areas was a consequence of efforts to protect the western borders of their Indian empire and check the southern advance of the Russians. In 1879, following the Second Anglo-Afghan War, the Afghan government conceded control of all the passes into India to the British and in 1893 the Durand Line was established, delineating the spheres of responsibility of the two governments. It is now the international border dividing the Pathan between two nation-states.

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