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Group of Afridis at Jamrūd, 1866 WDL11469, crop.png
Afridis at Jamrūd Fort which was located at the eastern entrance to Khyber Pass in present-day Pakistan; photo by C. Shepherd (1866)
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Pashto Urdu
Sunni Islam
Related ethnic groups
Khattaks · Orakzais · Wazirs · Mehsuds
and other Karlani Pashtun tribes

The Afridi (Pashto: اپريدی، افریدی‎; also spelled Apridi) are a tribe of Pashtuns. Their traditional homeland is in Khyber and Darra Adam Khel in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.[2]

Most Afridis speak a northern variety of Pashto known as Afridi Pashto.

The Afridis are historically known for the strategic location they inhabit and their belligerence against outside forces.[1] Under the leadership of Darya Khan Afridi, the Afridis fought deadly wars against the Mughal Army in the 1670s.[3] The later clashes against British expeditions comprised the most savage fighting of the Anglo-Afghan Wars.[4] Ajab Khan Afridi was a famous independence activist against the rule of the British Raj.

The British frequently classified the peoples that they conquered with fixed personality or "racial" traits and regarded the Pashtun Afridi tribesmen as "warlike" peoples and one of the martial races. Different Afridi clans cooperated with the British forces in exchange for subsidies, and some even served with the Khyber Rifles, an auxiliary force of the British Indian Army.[citation needed]

After the creation of Pakistan, Afridi tribesmen also helped attack Jammu and Kashmir for Pakistan during the Indo-Pakistani war of 1947.[5] Today, Afridis make use of their dominant social position in areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by controlling transport and various businesses, including trade in arms, munitions and goods.[1]

Etymology and origins[edit]

The Afridis, classically called the Abaörteans (/ˌæbə.ɔːrˈtənz/; Latin: Abaortae), have their original homeland in Tirah, Khyber Agency.

A tribe of ancient Pashtuns[edit]

Herodotus mentions a tribe of Aryans as Aparytai (Ἀπαρύται).[6] Scholars Grierson, Stein and Olaf Caroe equate these with modern Afridis on the basis of linguistic and geographic analysis.[7]

Theory of Afridi descent from Israelites[edit]

The Afridis, Yusufzais and other Pashtuns of Afghanistan and Pakistan have also been alleged to be the descendants of the lost Jewish tribes such as the Efraim.[citation needed] However, DNA and other research towards validating such claims has been inconclusive.[8][9][10]


The Afridi Tribe is subclassified into eight sub-tribes listed below.

All Afridi clans have their own areas in the Tirah Valley, and most of them extend down into the Khyber Pass over which they have always exercised the right of toll. The Malikdin Khel live in the centre of the Tirah and hold Bagh, the traditional meeting place of Afridi jirgas or assemblies. The Aka Khel are scattered in the hills south of Jamrud. All of this area is included in the Khyber Agency. The Adam Khel live in the hills between Peshawar and Kohat. Their preserve is the Kohat Pass in which several of the most important Afridi gun factories are located.


All Afridis follow Islam Sunni by sect. Their conversion to Islam is attributed to Sultan (Emperor) Mahmud of Ghazni by Ibbetson[11] and Haroon Rashid.[12]


Resistance against the Mughals[edit]

The Afridis and their allies Khalils were first mentioned in the memoirs of Mughal Emperor Babar as violent tribes in need of subduing.[13] The Afridi tribes controlled the Khyber Pass, which has served as a corridor connecting the Indian subcontinent with Afghanistan and Central Asia. Its strategic value was not lost on the Mughals to whom the Afridis were implacably hostile.[14]

Over the course of Mughal rule, Emperors Akbar and Jahangir both dispatched punitive expeditions to suppress the Afridis, to little success.[15]

The Afridis once destroyed two large Mughal armies of Emperor Aurangzeb: in 1672, in a surprise attack between Peshawar and Kabul, and in the winter of 1673, in an ambush in the mountain passes.[16] The emperor sent his Rajpoot general Rai Tulsidas with reinforcements into the mountains to suffocate the revolt and liberate the mountain.[16][17]

Allegedly, only five Afridis made it out of the battle alive.[18][19][20]


Meat is an important part of their diet, which they often eat in the form of kabab (minced meat fried in oil), lamb curry, chicken curry, or goat curry. The hotels in Peshawar Namak Mandi Bazar represent the traditional food of Afridis, especially lamb karahi.[21]

List of notable Afridis[edit]

Shahid Afridi at the County Ground, Taunton, during Pakistan's 2010 tour of England


  1. ^ a b c Afridi demographics in Pakistan and Afghanistan The excessive figure sometimes mentioned in Afghanistan reflects in a particular way the Afghan claim to Pashtunistan and actually represents an estimate of the whole of the Afridi tribe on both sides of the frontier.
  2. ^ a b "Afridi demographics in FATA and FR Kohat". Archived from the original on 17 October 2018. Retrieved 30 September 2012.
  3. ^ Momand, Ahmad Gul. The Bare Language of Khoshal's Poetry. Nangarhar University. p. 13.
  4. ^ L. Thomas, Beyond Khyber Pass, London, n.d. (ca. 1925)
  5. ^ M.K. Teng (2001) Kashmir: The Bitter Truth Archived 26 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine Kashmir Information Network
  6. ^ "The History of Herodotus Chapter 3, Verse 91; Written 440 B.C.E, Translated by G. C. Macaulay". Retrieved 21 February 2015.
  7. ^ Caroe, Olaf (1957). The Pathans, 550 B.C.-A.D. 1957. Oxford University Press. p. 37. ISBN 0-19-577221-0.
  8. ^ Amir Mizroch (9 January 2010). "Are Taliban descendants of Israelites?". The Jerusalem Post. Archived from the original on 16 June 2011.
  9. ^ Sachin Parashar (11 January 2010). "Lucknow Pathans have Jewish roots?". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 11 August 2011.
  10. ^ Rory McCarthy (17 January 2010). "Pashtun clue to lost tribes of Israel". The Observer.
  11. ^ Denzil Ibbetson, Edward MacLagan, H. A. Rose "A Glossary of The Tribes & Castes of The Punjab & North-West Frontier Province", 1911 AD, Page 217, Vol. III, Published by Asian Educational Services
  12. ^ History of the Pathans by Haroon Rashid Published by Haroon Rashid, 2002 Item notes: v. 1 Page 45 Original from the University of Michigan
  13. ^ A. S. Beveridge, Babor-nama London, 1922 [repr. 1969], p. 412
  14. ^ History of Khyber Agency: Gateway to the Subcontinent Archived 13 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Office of the Political Agent, Khyber Agency
  15. ^ C.M. Kieffer, Afridi, Encyclopædia Iranica
  16. ^ a b Richards, John F. (1996), "Imperial expansion under Aurangzeb 1658–1869. Testing the limits of the empire: the Northwest.", The Mughal Empire, New Cambridge history of India: The Mughals and their contemporaries, 5 (illustrated, reprint ed.), Cambridge University Press, pp. 170–171, ISBN 978-0-521-56603-2
  17. ^ Khyber Agency, 3 July 2005
  18. ^ Geoffrey Powell; J. S. W. Powell (1983), Famous regiments (illustrated ed.), Secker & Warburg, p. 69, ISBN 978-0-436-37910-9
  19. ^ Robert E. L. Masters; Eduard Lea (1963). Perverse crimes in history: evolving concepts of sadism, lust-murder, and necrophilia from ancient to modern times. Julian Press. p. 211. Retrieved 5 April 2011.
  20. ^ Robert E. L. Masters; Eduard Lea (1963). Sex crimes in history: evolving concepts of sadism, lust-murder, and necrophilia, from ancient to modern times. Julian Press. p. 211. Retrieved 5 April 2011.
  21. ^ "The End of Afghan Cuisine in Pakistan?". 8 May 2018.

External links[edit]