Afghans in India

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Afghans in India
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Hindi · Urdu · others
Hinduism · Sikhism · Islam
Related ethnic groups

Afghan diaspora, Pashtun diaspora, Rohilla, Pathans of Uttar Pradesh, Pathans of Gujarat and

several Pathan communities in India.

Afghan refugees in India are a community numbering up to 10,000.[1] Most are recent Hindu and Sikh refugees who fled the Taliban regime and political instability in Afghanistan; they are concentrated in and around Delhi. Muslim families account for about 10% of Afghan nationals in India, although recent migration has seen a boost in numbers.

Apart from citizens and expatriates, there are hundreds of Muslim communities in India who trace their ancestries back to Pashtun forefathers. Before the creation of the modern state of Afghanistan, the term Afghan was used synonymously with Pashtun, and there has been much history of Pashtuns that have lived in India. There are an estimate of 11.3 million Pashtuns in India.[citation needed] Several of Pashtun descent Indians migrated to Pakistan after the partition.

Currently, there are no or very few ethnic Afghans that retained their culture in India. There's a sizable number Pashtuns in Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.The North-Western Frontier Province (now called Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) was incorporated into British India in the late 19th century. Pashtuns were known as Afghans of British India.


The earliest record of Afghans in India is during the late 13th century when the Khilji dynasty formed an empire in Northern India. They belonged to a Turkic tribe but were treated by Indians as ethnic Afghans due to their adoption of some Afghan habits and customs.[2][3] The Lodi dynasty was made up of local ethnic Afghans. They ruled Northern India until the invasion of Babur in 1526, at which point the Mughal Empire was created. During this period Afghans from Kabulistan began arriving to India for business and pleasure. The Sur Empire replaced the Mughal Empire from 1540 to 1557. Rulers of Sur Empire were also Afghans. Other Afghans began invading India until the Sikh Empire came to power with the help of the British Empire. This formed a barrier between Afghanistan (Durrani Empire) and British India. Afghans were required visas to enter India after this period.

During the 20th century, small number of Afghans immigrated to India whos children became involved in Bollywood film making industry. This includes, Feroz Khan, Kader Khan, Salman Khan and others. After the start of the Soviet war in Afghanistan in 1979, a number of Afghans immigrated to India. Most of them were Hindu and Sikh Afghans. Thousands of Afghan refugees that have been living in India have since become Indian citizens.[4][5][1]

Pashto-speaking Communities of Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere[edit]

There are a large number of Pashto-speaking Pakhtuns in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.[6] Although their exact numbers are hard to determine, it is at least in excess of 100,000 for it is known that in 1954 over 100,000 nomadic Pakhtuns living in Kashmir Valley were granted Indian citizenship.[7] Today jirgas are frequently held.[8] Those settled and living in the Kashmir Valley speak Pashto, and are found chiefly in the southwest of the valley, where Pashtun colonies have from time to time been founded. The most interesting are the Kukikhel Afridis of Dramghaihama, who retain all the old customs and speak Pashto. They wear colorful dress and carry swords and shields. The Afridis and the Machipurians, who belong to the Yusufzai tribe, are liable to military service, in return for which they hold certain villages free of revenue. The Pashtuns chiefly came in under the Durranis, but many were brought by Maharajah Gulab Singh for service on the frontier.[9] Pashto is also spoken in two villages, Dhakki and Changnar (Chaknot), located on the Line of Control in Kupwara District.[10] In response to demand by the Pashtun community living in the state, Kashir TV has recently launched a series of Pushto-language programs.[11]

Many Afghans in India from Afghanistan happen to be ethnic Pashtuns.

Despite really good relations between Afghanistan, the government of India does not recognize Pathans ethnicity being synonymous with Afghan nationality (an ongoing contentious issue within Afghanistan and it's relation with Pakistan over control of KPK and FATA.).If India annexed or rejoined with Pakistan, then the good relations between Afghanistan and India may rapidly deteriorate, with India taking Pakistan's place.

Indians of putative ethnic Afghan descent[edit]

List of Indians of Afghan descent[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c UNHCR
  2. ^ Chaurasia, Radhey Shyam (2002). History of medieval India: from 1000 A.D. to 1707 A.D.. Atlantic Publishers & Distributors. p. 337. ISBN 81-269-0123-3. Retrieved 2010-08-23. The Khiljis were a Central Asian Turkic dynasty but having been long domiciled in Afghanistan, and adopted some Afghan habits and customs. They were treated as Afghans in Delhi Court. 
  3. ^ Cavendish, Marshall (2006). World and Its Peoples: The Middle East, Western Asia, and Northern Africa. Marshall Cavendish. p. 320. ISBN 0-7614-7571-0. Retrieved 2010-08-23. The sultans of the Slave Dynasty were Turkic Central Asians, but the members of the new dynasty, although they were also Turkic, had settled in Afghanistan and brought a new set of customs and culture to Delhi. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ 2013 UNHCR regional operations profile - South Asia
  6. ^ "Special focus on Gujjars, Paharis: CM". Daily Excelsior. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  7. ^ "Pakhtoons in Kashmir". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 20 July 1954. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  8. ^ "Justice rolls in Kashmir, Afghan-style". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  9. ^ "Saiyids, Mughals, Pashtuns and Galawans". OPF. Archived from the original on 15 May 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-07. 
  10. ^ "A First Look at the Language of Kundal Shahi in Azad Kashmir". SIL International. Retrieved 2009-06-11. 
  11. ^