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The Pashtuns

The Pashtuns are the mountain people who live in North West Pakistan and about half of Afghanistan. They are as tough a people as you could imagine and fiercely traditional.

Islam= here is as restrictive as it gets and the women are made to walk around in burkhas that cover them from head to toe. Women are moving bundles of cloth here, never speaking aloud in public unless they have to and never going out in public unless absolutely necessary.

The Pashtuns walk around with rifles like they were umbrellas and age is not seen as any limit as fire arms go. The communities are fiercely tribal and respect to the elders is absolute.

Yet they have a strong tradition of hospitality and they truly see the guest as ‘the face of God’, as the Koran says. Make a Pashtun friend and he will defend you to the death.

They are absolutely ruthless to their enemies, though and when the British army was fighting them in the 19th century if a soldier was lost behind enemy lines they made every possible attempt to get him back. They knew full well to what kind of treatment he would be subjected.

An observer once commented on this dichotomy of character:

“The Pashtun would remove the skin of an enemy with a razor blade without a moment’s remorse yet break into tears if his daughter grazed her knee outside.”

The Pashtuns hold little truck with national government and pretty much continue to live as they always have.

Road Junky

Road Junky specialises in provocative, off-the-cuff travel writing that isn't meant to be taken too seriously. Come and meet us in Morocco each winter for our Sahara Retreat.