Anti-Pashtun sentiment

Anti-Pashtun sentiment refers to fear, dislike, or hostility towards Pashtun people or anything related to Pashtun culture in general. It can sometimes be broadly construed as a subcategory of anti-Pakistan sentiment or anti-Afghan sentiment as Pashtuns are the second largest ethnic group in Pakistan. Anti-Pashtun sentiment has been present in South-Central Asia at various points in history among different non-Pashtun groups, for various political and historical reasons.


The traditional rivalry for power and influence between the Pashtun majority and the minority Persian (Dari)-speaking ethnic groups of Afghanistan such as the Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks and Turkmen, has often stirred anti-Pashtun sentiments among the latter. In 1975, an uprising broke out in Panjsher Valley against the rule of Afghan prime minister and Pashtun nationalist Daoud Khan, which was believed to have been "sparked by anti-Pashtun frustrations."[1] The Settam-e-Melli, led by Uzbek activist Tahir Badakhshi, has been described as "an anti-Pashtun leftist mutation."[1] According to Nabi Misdaq, the Settem-e-Melli "had an internal programme of provoking minorities to armed resurrection to stand up to Pashtuns."[2] The Shalleh-ye Javiyd, a Maoist political party founded in the 1960s that predominantly drew support from Shi'a Muslims and Hazaras, was also similarly opposed to Pashtun rule in Afghanistan.[2]

However, Misdaq notes that these anti-Pashtun stances were usually engraved more in a "Shi'a-versus-Sunni Afghan", "Dari-speaking-intellectuals-versus-Pashtun-rulers" and "majority-versus-minority" context rather than resentment on misrule or mistreatment by Pashtun kings and dynasties.[2] This could be because Afghan dynasties such as the Durrani Empire, although Pashtun by origin, had been considerably Persianised and had even adopted the Dari language over Pashto; this cultural assimilation made the Durranis culturally familiar to Dari-speaking non-Pashtuns and neutralised any ethnic hegemony.[2]

The Rabanni government which ruled Afghanistan in the early and mid-1990s was viewed by the Taliban as corrupt, anti-Pashtun and responsible for civil war.[3]


Following independence, one of the factors of resentment among Pashtun nationalists such as Bacha Khan was the British-inherited name of the North-West Frontier Province, which did not represent Pashtuns as compared to other provinces e.g. Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan which were all named after their resident ethnic groups. Rajmohan Gandhi mentions that "persisting with the imperial name for a former empire's frontier province was nothing but anti-Pathan discrimination."[4]

During the 1980s, anti-Pashtun sentiments were present in Karachi among some sections of the Urdu-speaking Muhajir community. These sentiments became manifested in the form of anti-Pathan riots in Karachi in 1986.[5] One of the factors which may have contributed to this was the growing economic influence of Pashtuns in the city, with the "blessing of the Zia regime."[6] According to Maya Chadda, increased Pashtun migration to Karachi, which included Pashtun migrants from neighbouring Afghanistan due to the Soviet war, disturbed Karachi's sensitive demographics and brought about an "increasingly violent competition for land, jobs, and economic control of the city."[7]

See also


  1. 1 2 Arnold, Anthony (1983). Afghanistan's Two-Party Communism: Parcham and Khalq. Hoover Press. p. 39. ISBN 978-0817977924.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Misdaq, Nabi (2006). Afghanistan: Political Frailty And External Interference. Taylor & Francis. pp. 105, 106. ISBN 978-0415702058.
  3. Katzman, Kenneth (2010). Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U. S. Policy. DIANE Publishing. p. 5. ISBN 978-1437927528.
  4. Gandhi, Rajmohan (2008). Ghaffar Khan: nonviolent Badshah of the Pakhtuns. Penguin Books India. p. 243. ISBN 978-0143065197.
  5. Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (1992). The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, Volume 16. p. 87.
  6. Rais, Rasul Bux (1997). State, society, and democratic change in Pakistan. Oxford University Press. p. 122.
  7. Chadda, Maya (2000). Building Democracy in South Asia: India, Nepal, Pakistan / Maya Chadda. Lynne Rienner Publishers. p. 100. ISBN 978-1555878597.
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