Peoples and Ethnic Groups: Pashtunwali - Observance of the code

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The Pastunwali Code governs Pashtun interpersonal and intertribal relationships. It is expected that a Pashtun who has been wronged will exact revenge, no matter how long it takes. It is also expected that a Pashtun who has been wronged is entitled to compensation. Such compensation would be determined by the loya jirga, a council of tribal elders. And finally, it is expected that a Pashtun will protect and shelter the guests in his household, as with Osama bin Laden, who has taken refuge with some Pashtun tribes.

Nicholas Listen to this audio about tribal areas from Nicholas Schmidle "Living With Political Islam"

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Not observing these customary laws is considered disgraceful and may lead to social punishments such as expulsion of an individual or even a whole family from the group or other harsh punishments such as death. It must be noted that, among the Pashtun, expulsion is regarded as every bit as bad as or even worse than physical death. There are some forward looking Pashtuns who believe they either need to change Pashtunwali and the identity connotations that come along with practicing it traditionally; or it will not survive in an ethnically diverse and constitutionally governed Pakistan, or the world at large.

The practice of the Pashtunwalli code varies between the elite and urban dwelling Pashtuns and the semi-sedentary and nomadic Pashtuns. For example, the protection of namus (women's honor) through purdah (sex segregation) is strictly followed in urban areas where the family lives among strangers. Among the nomadic Pashtuns, like the Kuchi/Waziri of northern Pakistan who live with their extended family members, women rarely veil their faces and can visit with some male family members. In villages, women may become a woman village leader called a qaryadar who "witnesses women's ceremonies, mobilizes women to practice religious festivals, prepares the female dead for burial, and performs services for deceased women." [17]

 

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