Pashtunwali is an unwritten democratic, socio-political culture, law and ideology of the Pashtoon society, inherited from their forefathers and carrier on to the present generation as a legal and moral code that determines social order and responsibilities.
It is an ancient “code of honor” that belongs to Pashtuns of Afghanistan and Pakistan, including the Pashtun communities around the world. Pashtuns embrace an ancient traditional, spiritual, and communal identity tied to a set of moral codes and rules of behavior that is flexible and dynamic, containing modern and ancient principles.
This system has managed all social and internal affairs of the Pashtoon society before and after Islam. It has created small and large local governments in Central and South Asia and it is socially practiced by the majority.
Pashtunwali promotes self-respect, independence, justice, hospitality, love, forgiveness, revenge and tolerance toward all, especially to strangers and guests. All these codes of conduct are helpful in maintaining social and moral checks and balances within Pashtun society. It is considered a personal responsibility of every Pashtun to discover and rediscover Pashtunwali essence and meaning.
For 8 centuries’ the Pashtoon nationalism formed a political central government for the first time in the 12th century and then established a strong centralized government in the mid 18th century.
All small and large tribes and ethnic groups participated in the reform and improvement of the government administration and in its various economic, social and cultural aspects. With the strengthening of relations among these ethnic groups in socio-economic affairs, Pashtoon nationalism was transformed into Afghan nationalism.
Pashtunwali is the first foundation stone, Pashtoon nationalism is second and afghan nationalism is the third and evolutionary phase of political structure.
The codes are;
- Faith – trust in God (known as “Allah”)The notion of trusting in the one creator.
- Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds – A Pashtun must always strive towards thinking good thoughts, speaking good words and doing good deeds.
- Behavior – Pashtuns must behave respectfully towards all creations including people, animals and the environment around them. Pollution of the environment and/or its destruction is against the Pashtunwali.
- Unity – above the languages they speak, above the blood they keep, above the amount of money they make, Pashtunwali unites the Pashtuns as one people across the world. Where there is true unity, every effort to disunite them will only serve to strengthen the unity they have. What happens to one – happens to all.
- Equality – Every man is equal. Every man wants a say in his future and he will fight for his right to have his opinions heard. All people must therefore deal with each other, with the proper civility or respect and no one may impose their will on to another.
- Hospitality and sanctuary – Being hospitable to everybody, and specially to guests, even the most hostile of enemies may (if asked for) be provided sanctuary, asylum or protection as well as food and other aid.
- Justice and forgiveness – If one intentionally wrongs another, the victim has the right, even an obligation, to avenge this injustice in equal proportion. If one has intentionally wronged you, and you did not seek justice nor did the wrongdoer ask you for his/her forgiveness, then a debt, is owed to you by him/her, which can only be fulfilled once justice (through an act of revenge or the decision of the Jirga council) has been provided to recompense the wrong done.
- Brotherhood and trust – the belief that fellow Pashtun brothers or sisters should be trusted and assisted to the greatest extent possible.
- Honour – Pashtuns must maintain their independence and human dignity. Honour has great importance in Pashtun society and its very important to maintain one’s honour or pride.
- Self respect – Individuals must respect themselves and others in order to be able to do so, especially those they do not know. Respect begins at home, among family members and relatives.
- Compassion and cooperation – The poor, the weak, and the challenged must be supported. Inclusion must be preferred to exclusion. To defend against tyranny, fascism and overzealous groups and to work smart first and then hard.
- Family – The family must be glorified under a sacred conviction of responsibility and duty with respect for wives, daughters, elders, parents, sons, and husbands.
- We are one family – Fellow Pashtun must be cared for. There may be hundreds of tribes, but they have one destiny in union with each other.
- Knowledge – Pashtuns seek objective knowledge in life, art, science, and culture, which are considered fruits granted by God.
- Pashtun history – Great value is placed in Pashtun history, tragedies and victories. It teaches Pashtuns “to keep the mind open, to continue the search for the truth, much of which has vanished under history itself”.
- Fight evil – Evil is at constant war with good. Evil must be fought and good must prevail over evil. It is a Pashtuns duty to fight evil when he/she comes face to face with it.
- Honesty and Promise – A Pashtun is known for keeping their promises and being honest at all situations and times. A true Pashtun will never break their promise.
- Hospitality– Pashtuns treat all guests and people who enter their houses with great respect and always go by one saying. “Mailma de khudai milgareh deh” (A guest is God’s friend…)