Pashtun nationalism (Pashto: پښتون ملتپالنه) is a political and social movement which promotes the idea that the Pashtuns are deserving of a sovereign nation in their homeland of Pashtunistan, which consists of the Pashtun-majority parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Pashtun nationalism is closely linked to the cause of Pashtun home rule and Pashtun independence. In Afghanistan, Pashtun nationalists look after the interests of the Pashtun ethnic group and has its support only from them. They favor the ideas of a "Greater Afghanistan" (i.e. it claims the Pashtun-speaking parts of Pakistan for Afghanistan).
An early Pashtun nationalist was the "warrior-poet" Khushal Khan Khattak, who was imprisoned by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb for trying to incite the Pashtuns to rebel against the rule of the Mughals. However, despite sharing a common language and believing in a common ancestry, the Pashtuns first achieved unity in the 18th century after being under foreign rule for many centuries. The eastern parts of Pashtunistan was ruled by the Mughal Empire, while the western parts were ruled by the Persian Safavids as their easternmost provinces. During the early 18th century, Pashtun tribes led by Mirwais Hotak successfully revolted against the Safavids in the city of Kandahar. In a chain of events, he declared Kandahar and other parts of what is now southern Afghanistan independent. By 1738 the Mughal Empire had been crushingly defeated and their capital sacked and looted by forces of a new Iranian ruler; the military genius and commander Nader Shah. Besides Persian, Turkmen, and Caucasian forces, Nader was also accompanied by the young Ahmad Shah Durrani, and 4,000 well trained Pashtun troops from what is now Afghanistan and North-west Pakistan.
After the death of Nader Shah in 1747 and the disintegration of his massive empire, Ahmad Shah Durrani created his own large and powerful Durrani Empire, which included Pashtunistan, and most of nowadays Pakistan, among other regions. The famous couplet by Ahmad Shah Durrani describes the association the people have with the regional city of Kandahar:
"Da Dili takht ze herauma cheh rayad kam, zama da shkule Pashtunkhwa da ghro saruna". Translation: "I forget the throne of Delhi when I recall, the mountain peaks of my beautiful Pashtunkhwa."
The last Afghan Empire was established in 1747 and united all the different Pashtun tribes as well as many other ethnic groups. Parts of the Pashtunistan region around Peshawar was invaded by Ranjit Singh and his Sikh army in the early part of the 19th century, but a few years later they were defeated by the British Raj, the new powerful empire which reached the Pashtunistan region from the east.
- Durand Line
- Khudai Khidmatgar
- Bacha Khan
- Faqir of Ipi
- Awami National Party
- Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party
- Afghan Millat Party
- Zalmay Khalilzad, "The Security of Southwest Asia", University of Michigan, 2006, ISBN 0-566-00651-0
- Caron, James M (2009). Cultural Histories of Pashtun Nationalism, Public Participation, and Social Inequality in Monarchic Afghanistan, 1905-1960.
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