Peoples and Ethnic Groups – Pashtunwali: Observance of the Code

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These elements govern 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.

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 Afghanistan, or the world at large.[7]

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