Pashtun tribal structure
Pashtun tribes are divided into four tribal groups: Sarbans, Batani, Gharghasht and Karlanri or Karans. The oral tradition of the Pashtuns holds that these are descended from the four sons of Qais Abdur Rashid, the mythical ancestor of the Pashtun people.
There are several levels of organisation of Pashtun tribes: the ṭabar (tribe) is subdivided into kinship groups, each of which is a khel. Khel subtribes are further divided into plārina or plārganəi, each of which consists of several extended families or kahol.
"A large tribe often has dozens of sub-tribes whose members may see themselves as belonging to each, some, or all of the sub-tribes" in their family tree depending upon the social situation: co-operative, competitive, or confrontational.
- Ṭabar splits the tribe into two or more, made of more than one tribes. The tribes then are divided into sub tribes also called khel or zai. Zai in Pashto means descendant, and in Avestan it is similar with zoi, "offspring", which is related to the English word "son".
- William Crooke said that khel is from an Arabic word meaning "association" or "company". However, it is suggested that khel comes from the Avestan khuail, meaning "uncountable" or "over populated" such as counting of stars or counting grain of rice. In Persian dictionary, the word has been recorded as kheleh meaning "lots" or "too much". In usage the word khel is placed after the name of the common ancestor or leader; thus, "Piya Khel" would be the followers or descendants of Piya. Similarly, subtribes have also given their names to settlements; thus, "Haidar Khel" is not only the name of a subtribe, but also of a settlement. A khel is often based in a single village, but it may also be based on a larger area including several villages, or part of a town.
- Plārina is related to the Bactrian impression of Plār, which derives from Old Iranian piðar (in Bactrianand Pashto, Old Iranian /ð/ usually yields /l/), and is related to Sanskrit pidar and English "father". The plural form of plār is plārina. A Plārina is considered only when the 7th offspring is born, meaning the father of many layers (kahol). Usually the 7th forefather is assumed to take from one and a half century to two centuries. The Plārina is considered to have 10,000 to 15,000 offsprings.
- Kahol is the smallest group of Afghan tribal system, meaning father of 1. zāmən (children), 2. lmasi (grandchildren), 3. kaṛwasi (great grandchildren), and 4. kawdi (great great grandchildren). Once the third offspring is born, it would be labelled as family, or kahol in Pashtun tribal organifgation. Their number may be from 70–100 depending on number of children.
- Wardak, A. (2003) "Jirga – A Traditional Mechanism of Conflict Resolution in Afghanistan" p. 7, online at UNPAN (the United Nations Online Network in Public Administration and Finance), accessed 10 January 2009
- Wardak, A. (2003) "Jirga – A Traditional Mechanism of Conflict Resolution in Afghanistan" p. 10, online at UNPAN (the United Nations Online Network in Public Administration and Finance), accessed 10 January 2009
- Crooke, William (1896) The Tribes and Castes of the North-western Provinces and Oudh Office of the Superintendent of Government Printing, Calcutta, p. 158, OCLC 4770515
- Wardak, A. (2003) "Jirga – A Traditional Mechanism of Conflict Resolution in Afghanistan" p. 6, online at UNPAN (the United Nations Online Network in Public Administration and Finance), accessed 10 January 2009
- Albrecht, Hans-Jörg (2006) Conflicts and Conflict Resolution in Middle Eastern Societies: Between Tradition and Modernity Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, p. 358, ISBN 3-428-12220-8
- Wardak, A. (2004) "The Tribal and Ethnic Composition of Afghan Society" in Girardet, Edward and Walter, Jonathan (2004) Afghanistan: Essential Field Guides to Humanitarian and Conflict Zones (2nd ed.) Crosslines Ltd., Geneva, ISBN 2-9700176-1-X
- Pashtun Tribe, Clan, & Ethnic Genealogies, US Naval Postgraduate School