Total population
c. 50 million
Regions with significant populations
 Pakistan32,804,913 (2018)[1]
 Afghanistan14,675,151 (2018)[2]
 UAE338,315 (2009)[4]
 United States138,554 (2010)[5]
 Iran110,000 (1993)[6]
 United Kingdom100,000 (2009)[7]
 Germany37,800 (2012)[8]
 Canada26,000 (2006)[9]
 Russia9,800 (2002)[10]
 Australia8,154 (2006)[11]
 Malaysia5,500 (2008)
 Tajikistan4,000 (1970)[6]
Minor: Dari (in Afghanistan), Urdu (in Pakistan and India), Punjabi (in Pakistan), Hindko (in Pakistan), Ormuri (in parts of Waziristan, Pakistan), Dardic, Balochi
Islam (Sunni)
with small Twelver Shia and Hindu minorities[12][13][disputed ]

The Pashtuns (z/, z/ or z/; Pashto: پښتانه‎, Pax̌tānə; singular masculine: پښتون, Pax̌tūn, feminine: پښتنه, Pax̌tana; also Pukhtuns), historically known as ethnic Afghans (Persian: افغان‎, Afğān)[14][15][16] and Pathans (Hindustani: پٹھان, पठान, Paṭhān),[17][18] are an Iranian ethnic group[19] who mainly live in Pakistan and Afghanistan in South-Central Asia.[20] They speak the Pashto language and adhere to Pashtunwali, which is a traditional set of ethics guiding individual and communal conduct. The ethnogenesis of the Pashtun ethnic group is unclear but historians have come across references to various ancient peoples called Pakthas (Pactyans) between the 2nd and the 1st millennium BC,[21][22] who may be their early ancestors. Their history is mostly spread amongst the present-day countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan, centred on their traditional seat of power in that region.

Pashtun men from southern Afghanistan

Globally, the Pashtuns are estimated to number around 50 million,[23] but an accurate count remains elusive due to the lack of an official census in Afghanistan since 1979. The majority of the Pashtuns live in the region regarded as Pashtunistan, which has been split between the two countries since the Durand Line border was formed after the Second Anglo-Afghan War.[24] There are also significant Pashtun diaspora communities in the provinces of Sindh and Punjab in Pakistan, in particular in the cities of Karachi and Lahore. A recent Pashtun diaspora has also developed in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, primarily in the United Arab Emirates. The Pashtuns are a significant minority group in Pakistan, where they constitute the second-largest ethnic group or about 15% of the population. As the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan (anywhere between 42 and 60 percent of the population), Pashtuns have been the dominant ethno-linguistic group for over 300 years. During the Delhi Sultanate era, the 15th–16th century Lodi dynasty briefly replaced the preexisting rulers in North India until Babur completely deposed the Lodi dynasty. Other Pashtuns fought the Safavids and Mughals before obtaining an independent state in the early 18th century,[25] which began with a successful revolution by Mirwais Hotak followed by conquests of Ahmad Shah Durrani.[26] The Barakzai dynasty played a vital role during the Great Game from the 19th century to the 20th century as they were caught between the imperialist designs of the British and Russian empires.

The Pashtuns are the world's largest segmentary lineage ethnic group. Estimates of the number of Pashtun tribes and clans range from about 350 to over 400.[25][27] There have been many notable Pashtun people throughout history: Ahmad Shah Durrani is regarded as the founder of the modern state of Afghanistan, while Bacha Khan was a Pashtun independence activist against the rule of the British Raj. Some others include Malala Yousafzai, Shah Rukh Khan, Zarine Khan, Imran Khan, Farhad Darya, Abdul Ahad Mohmand, Naghma, Ahmad Zahir, Zakir Husain, Hamid Karzai, Ashraf Ghani, and Mullah Mohammed Omar.

Geographic distribution

The vast majority of the Pashtuns are found in the traditional Pashtun homeland, located in an area south of the Amu Darya in Afghanistan and west of the Indus River in Pakistan, which includes Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the northern part of Balochistan. Additional Pashtun communities are located in Western and Northern Afghanistan, the Gilgit–Baltistan and Kashmir regions and northwestern Punjab province (Mianwali and Attock), Pakistan. There are also sizeable Muslim communities in India, which are of largely Pashtun ancestry.[28][29] Throughout the Indian subcontinent, they are often referred to as Pathans.[30] Smaller Pashtun communities are found in the countries of the Middle East, such as in the Khorasan Province of Iran, the Arabian Peninsula, Europe, North America and Australia.

Important metropolitan centres of Pashtun culture include Peshawar, Kabul, Quetta, Kandahar, Mardan, Mingora and Jalalabad. In Pakistan, the city of Karachi in Sindh province has the largest Pashtun diaspora communities in the world, with as much as 7 million Pashtuns living in Karachi according to some estimates.[31][32] Several cities in Pakistan's Punjab province also have sizeable Pashtun populations, in particular Lahore.

About 15%[33][34] of Pakistan's nearly 200 million population is Pashtun. In Afghanistan, they are the largest ethnic group and make up between 42–60% of the 32.5 million population.[35][36] The exact figure remains uncertain in Afghanistan, which is also affected by the 1.3 million or more Afghan refugees that remain in Pakistan, a majority of which are Pashtuns. Another one million or more Afghans live in Iran. A cumulative population assessment suggests a total of around 49 million individuals all across the world.[23]


A prominent institution of the Pashtun people is the intricate system of tribes. The Pashtuns remain a predominantly tribal people, but the trend of urbanisation has begun to alter Pashtun society as cities such as Kandahar, Peshawar, Quetta and Kabul have grown rapidly due to the influx of rural Pashtuns. Despite this, many people still identify themselves with various clans.

The tribal system has several levels of organisation: the tribe, tabar, is divided into kinship groups called khels, in turn divided into smaller groups (pllarina or plarganey), each consisting of several extended families called kahols.[37] Pashtun tribes are divided into four 'greater' tribal groups: the Sarbani, the Bettani, the Gharghashti, and the Karlani.

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Pasjtoene
العربية: بشتون
aragonés: Paixtuns
asturianu: Etnia pashtu
azərbaycanca: Puştunlar
تۆرکجه: پوشتون‌لار
Bân-lâm-gú: Pashtun-lâng
беларуская: Пуштуны
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Пуштуны
български: Пущуни
bosanski: Paštuni
català: Paixtus
Чӑвашла: Пуштунсем
čeština: Paštunové
Cymraeg: Pashtun
dansk: Pashtunere
Deutsch: Paschtunen
eesti: Puštud
Ελληνικά: Παστούν
español: Pastún
Esperanto: Paŝtunoj
euskara: Paxtun
فارسی: پشتون‌ها
français: Pachtounes
Gaeilge: Paistiúnaigh
galego: Pobo paxto
ગુજરાતી: પશ્તૂન લોકો
한국어: 파슈툰인
հայերեն: Աֆղաններ
हिन्दी: पठान
hrvatski: Paštunci
Bahasa Indonesia: Pashtun
Interlingue: Pashtunes
italiano: Pashtun
עברית: פתאנים
ქართული: პუშტუნები
қазақша: Пуштундар
لۊری شومالی: پٱشتونیٛا
latviešu: Puštuni
lietuvių: Puštūnai
magyar: Pastuk
മലയാളം: പഷ്തൂൺ
मराठी: पठाण
Bahasa Melayu: Pashtun
Nederlands: Pathanen
नेपाली: पठान
нохчийн: Пуштунаш
norsk: Pashtun
norsk nynorsk: Pathanarar
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Pushtunlar
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਪਠਾਣ
پنجابی: پٹھان
پښتو: پښتانه
polski: Pasztuni
português: Pachtuns
русский: Пуштуны
Scots: Pashtuns
shqip: Pashtunët
Simple English: Pashtun people
سنڌي: پٺاڻ
slovenčina: Paštuni
српски / srpski: Паштуни
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Paštuni
suomi: Paštut
svenska: Pashtuner
Tagalog: Pashtun
Taqbaylit: Pactun
татарча/tatarça: Пуштуннар
тоҷикӣ: Афғонҳо
Türkçe: Peştunlar
українська: Пуштуни
اردو: پشتون
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: پۇشتۇ مىللىتى
Tiếng Việt: Người Pashtun
粵語: 普什圖人
Zazaki: Peştun
中文: 普什圖人