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Pashtun, Southern in Afghanistan

Pashtun, Southern

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Pashtun, Southern in Afghanistan map
Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
8,933,000 Pashto, Southern Islam 0.02 % 0.02 % No No   

Pashtun, Southern in Afghanistan

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Introduction / History
Passionate is a word that well describes much about the Pashtun tribes of Afghanistan. They are said to love or hate with equal intensity, displaying fierce loyalty to friends, yet defending the right of badal - revenge or blood feuds where enemies are concerned. An old proverb reveals much, "He is no Pashtun who does not give a blow for a punch." Thus, it is no surprise that the infamous Taliban fighters originated among the Pashtun. But that presents an unfairly sensational - and lopsided - view of Afghanistan's largest people group. They are not the first to use tradition, disposition and numbers to attempt domination. Each coin has another side.

Interestingly, legend claims they originate from one of Israel's tribes, even descending from King Saul himself. Scholars tend to scoff at this but their "true" origin has not yet been determined. They are part of Central Asia's mystique although ethnic researchers have identified them with the Indo-Iranian Affinity Bloc, the Pashtun People Cluster and variously call them Pashtun, Pakhtun or Pushtun. Comprising less than half of Afghanistan's population, they currently number beyond 10.5 million there; 35.5 million world wide. Pashto is their traditional language, although possibly giving way to Dari (Eastern Farsi), the country's trade language.

Traditional Pashtun territory lies in the southern and eastern mountains where extended families dwell in tents or mud houses, amid typically unsanitary conditions due to lack of safe water sources. Such circumstances, coupled with lack of health care, contribute to limited life expectancy - about 46 years. Nomads may live in valleys during winter and move to mountain pastures during summer months - a harsh lifestyle either way on war-torn, landmine-pocked landscapes. In one of the world's poorest countries, many depend on raising livestock, limited farming and cultivating the notorious opium poppy for income. Others relocated to Kabul (the capital city) after the 2001 Allied invasion hoping for industry to develop and to supply jobs. Though some urban Pashtun are educated, most adults are illiterate, particularly women.

What are their lives like?
Pashtun culture adheres to a rigid, unwritten "code of ethics" - the Pushtunwali (the way of the Pashtun). Behavior expected without question includes hospitality and protection for guests, provision of refuge to a fugitive and acceptance of a sincere offer of peace, bravery, steadfastness, persistence, defense of property and family honor and protection of female relatives - values for which death is not too high a price to pay.

Hard lives, however, find joy and relaxation in music that includes folk songs or dancing accompanied by stringed instruments and tambourines. Poetry and storytelling have long been favorite pastimes, as are segregated gatherings just to visit or to have pleasant conversation with friends.

Clothing is simple. Men wear long-sleeved cotton shirts over loose pants with sleeveless vests, and turbans wound in a particular way with the end hanging to the shoulder. In some areas weapons complete this costume. Women must observe Purdah (meaning curtain) which requires wearing a full-length garment known as the burka that features a mesh opening over the eyes for navigation.

Women raise the children and prepare meals. The dietary staple is a flat bread called nan. The rare dish containing meat could include curry or garlic, perhaps accompanied by lentils, spinach, or onions, with cheese to complete the meal. Tea is the favored beverage - one always offered to guests. Living a limited life, women neither inherit property, appear publicly without a male escort nor expect advanced education. Her identity is linked to a male member of her family, that is, as the wife of (her husband) or the mother of (her eldest son). With increased exposure to the world beyond, however, and a new democratic-style government some Pashtun customs may eventually change.

What are their beliefs?
Since the time of Alexander the Great, Afghanistan has been the site of both Eastern and Western invasions. As a result, the Pashtun tribes have been influenced by Indian Buddhists as well as Central Asian Muslims. However, Islam has been the chief religion of Afghanistan since the 10th century. Presently the Pashtun people are nearly all Muslim.

The Islamic religion is very difficult to influence. Converts to Christianity will more than likely be banished from their families. Consequently, there has been very little growth of Christianity among the Pashtun. Most of the work by various missions agencies has ended due to unrest in the country. More recently, some of the "freedom fighters" have attacked Western relief agencies, causing them to flee from Afghanistan. Christian radio and television broadcasts are strictly forbidden by the government.

Prayer Points
* Pray for peace in the land of the Pashtun peoples.
* Ask God to call those who are willing to go to Afghanistan and share Christ with the Pashtun.
* Pray that God will encourage and protect the small number of Pashtun believers.
* Ask God to soften the hearts of the Pashtun towards Christians so that they will be open to the Gospel.
* Pray for the Afghani children who grow up in fear and hatred of outsiders.
* Ask God to once again open the doors for Christian agencies desiring to work among the Pashtun.
* Pray for completion of Bible translation in this people group's primary language.
* Pray for the availability of the Jesus Film in the primary language of this people.

View Pashtun, Southern in all countries.

Prayer Links
Global Prayer Digest: 2006-10-27
Global Prayer Digest: 2007-11-17
Global Prayer Digest: 2008-05-24
Global Prayer Digest: 2013-11-05
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Country: Afghanistan
Continent: Asia
Region: Asia, Central
Persecution Rank:2 (Only top 50 ranked, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
10/40 Window: Yes
Total Provinces on file:19
Location in Country:Kandahar area; Badghis, Farah, Helmand, Herat, Kandahar, Nimroz, Uruzgan, and Zabul provinces.
(Source: Ethnologue 2016)
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Country Map:Political map
Ethnolinguistic Map:University of Texas or other map
  Peoples [3]
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People Name in Country: Pashtun, Southern
People Name General: Pashtun, Southern
Alternate People Names:
AfghanAfghan Pathan
ROP3 Code: 109502
Joshua Project People ID: 14327
Indigenous: Yes
Population in Country: 8,933,000
Population all Countries: 9,146,000
Least-Reached: Yes
Affinity Bloc: Persian-Median
People Cluster: Pashtun
People Name General: Pashtun, Southern
Ethnic Code: CNT24a
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Pashto, Southern (8,933,000 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): pbt    Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Islam
Religion Sub-division:Sunni
Major Religions:
Buddhism0.00 % 
Christianity0.02 %(Evangelical: 0.02 %)
Ethnic Religions0.00 % 
Hinduism0.00 % 
Islam99.98 % 
Non-Religious0.00 % 
Other / Small0.00 % 
Unknown0.00 % 
Christianity Segments:
Anglican0.00 %
Independent100.00 %
Protestant0.00 %
Orthodox0.00 %
Other Christian0.00 %
Roman Catholic0.00 %
(Evangelicals distributed across Christianity segments)
Progress Indicators [5]
Progress Scale[6]   Few evangelicals and few who claim to be Christians. Little, if any, history of Christianity.
Least-Reached: Yes
GSEC Status:Level 2   Less than 2% Evangelical. Initial (localized) church planting within past 2 years
Bible Translation Status
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Bible Portions: 2011
New Testament: None Reported
Complete Bible: None Reported
Possible Bible Sources: Forum of Bible Agencies
 World Bible Finder
 World Christian Resource Directory
 Gospel Go
Ministry Resources [7]
Audio RecordingsMegaVoice Audio Bible and Stories
Audio RecordingsAudio Bible teaching (GRN)
Audio RecordingsGeneral Ministry Resources
Audio RecordingsPashto Radio
Ministry Activity
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Networking: Visit for networking possibilities.
Description: Register your ministry activity among this people group. Contact the Adopt-A-People Clearinghouse and Unleashed for the Unreached to learn about others that might be focused on this people group.
Data Notes
Data Sources

Pashtun, Southern in Afghanistan

Global                 Global
  Affinity Bloc             Global  
People Cluster
    Pashtun     Asia, Central    
      Pashtun, Southern Afghanistan    
            People-by-Country (Profile)          
            Pashtun, Southern in Afghanistan          
      Religion Language  
      Islam     Pashto, Southern  
    All Religions                              

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