Safi Pashtun girl

There is a story which goes about Pashtuns, more importantly about Safi Pashtuns. This story infact became the focal point for Pashtun nationalism and led to the creation of present day Afghanistan (the more appropriate word would be, this story or this event implanted the seeds for independence for Pashtuns).

The story goes as following:

During the time of Aurangzeb (6th Mughal Ruler), Revolt was triggered when soldiers under the orders of the Mughal Governor Amir Khan allegedly attempted to molest women of the Safi tribe in modern day Kunar. The Safi tribemen retaliated and killed the soldiers. This attack provoked a reprisal, which triggered a general revolt of the most of the tribes. When news reached Aurangzeb that his general was killed, he appealed to the tribe to hand over the killers , but the naturally elders refused and challenged the Emperor. This was owing to their stance of Pashtunwali.

To be Noted:  I wonder how he would have reacted if his wife or daughter might have been subjected to such a treatment. Aurangzeb would have subjected such men to inhuman torture, a torture which would have been invented for those men only. Aurangzeb was a hypocrite, this event adds significance to those voices against him.

Soon Aurangzeb set out with a large force against the Safi and their allies from other Pashtun clans namely Khattak, Afridis, Shinwari, and Mohmands in the command of Khushal Khan Khattak which was at that time the tribal chief of Khattak tribe. Afghan sources claim that Aurangzeb suffered a humiliating defeat, with a reported loss of 40,000 Mughal soldiers who were killed in the battle and with only four men, including the Governor managing to escape. These events occurred during 1672. This story stands out precisely because it shows the culture of Pashtunwali in it, where Honour for a Pashtun is supreme. Violating that Honour means death, especially if violating the honour of Pashtun women (An ideology also incorporated among many north-Indian warrior communities).

khushal Khan Khattak

Now the most interesting factor in all this was that Aurangzeb himself was married to a Pashtun woman named Rabia-ud-Durrani, also known as Dilras Banu Begum, though “official” accounts state that she was a decendant of Safavid dynasty. Pashtuns have Indo-Iranian origination, so things are hazy when the writers are writing what “master” wants. I say this because such reports have been made about other guys also.This is done to show “higher breed” of the person concerned. Thereby validating his/her rule or authority much like an irrepressible power and propelling feudal command. Liaquat Ali Khan is mentioned as descendant of King in Iran well infact he was a muslim Jat, whose forefathers were given enormous land by AurangzebRabia-ud-Durrani died in child birth in 1657; Aurangzeb had married her as a child in 1637. I am sure that she must have told Aurangzeb about Pashtunwali and Pashtun code of conduct. Though what fails me is that Aurangzeb’s insensitive nature towards the Pashtun men who fight for honour of their women (and more importantly those alike Pashtuns whom he butchered). It seems in this case he was more inclined towards making Pashtuns submit rather than hear them out. This nature of his is seen while dealing with Jats, Rajputs, Sikhs and Marathas too, which eventually led to crumbling of his Mughal empire.

Currently the Safi tribe is well known for resistance to the Taliban regime, and many fierce clashes have broken out between the two.

 Ancestry of Safi Pashtuns:

The ancestry of the Safis reaches back to the inhabitants of the ancient kingdom of Gandhara, and they are related to the neighboring Nuristanis. Besides Pashto, some clans of the Safis speak a Kohistani Pashayi dialect. More could be found after performing genetic test and DNA analysis but given the current state of Afghanistan it might not be possible. They basically reside in the region of Kunar Province is in the northeastern part of the country. The capital of the province is Asadabad. It is one of the four “N2KL” provinces (Nangarhar Province, Nuristan Province, Kunar Province and Laghman Province).

Kunar province

Pashtuns Genealogy:

There have been constant fights between many scholars who claim Pashtuns as the descendants of their respective races/ communities naturally so given fierce warrior independent nature of Pashtun. Though there might be possibility of mixing of races in Pashtun and formation of new clans which came into being during 5-10 Century AD.

Following are the people who lay claim on Pashtuns:

  1. Indo-Aryans/Indo-Europeans/Indo-Iranians or South Asians of Northern region.
  2. Jews more importantly Israelis
  3. Arabs: This one some Pashtun tribe claims decent from Arabs.
  4. Greeks: The Pashtuns of Peshawar region show genetic similarities with Indo-Greek traits as many claims that they are descendants of Alexander‘s army.

Politics behind Pashtuns Genealogy and Genetics:

Now any sane and logical person can understand that political significance of it.

  1. If Israel (Jews) justifies their claim, they can inspire Pashtuns to fight Arabs and Iranians. Not to mention pacify them from fighting Jews and turning against Palestine.
  2. If Iran justifies the claim then it is simple that Wahabbi ( Saudi ideology) will be pumped out and Shia Ideology could be brought in or any sunni Ideology which is not anti-Iran.
  3. If Indo-Aryans justify the claim they can stop Pashtuns from being a tool in the hands of Wahabbi and Salafi elements whose main job is get more land and more people in their religion (Not to mention kill infidels and take their women ,violate these women to be precise).
  4. If Arabs justify their claim or as some Pashtun tribes want to claim, then they could become an asset in the hands of Wahabbi or Salafis. The puritan form of Islamist who preach Islamic supremacy (The fundamentalist Arabs then infuse Wahhabi and Salafi ideology in Pashtun youth and brain wash them to perform suicide attacks ).

Whatever may be the outcome of this “political”  struggle, following words hold true for non-Pashtun people in the region who have watched Pashtuns for thousands of years.Sometimes in amazement, sometimes with respect and sometimes in form of an enemy.

The words could be best summed up are:

You will never find more noble, honorable and loyal friend

And neither will you find more honest and fierce enemy.