lunes, 14 de enero de 2008

Pakistan-Afghanistan: The Pashto Culture and the Pashtunwali

Non-written moral codes and behaviour that rules Pashtuns is named “Pastunwali”. The Jirga, or elders' court, is who determines the punishments that must be applied in case of breaching some of those rules. The capital punishment is one of the most common of the punishments applied by that court, as well as setting on fire his house and killing his relatives, with the lonely exception of women and children. These punitive actions are not carried out by the Jirga itself, but by the offended man or his progeny, several generations after produced, if necessary, in any time and space.

Do not look at the eyes of a Pasto woman of more than 10-12 years under any circumstance. Much less speak a word to him, unless it turns out to be strictly necessary. Neither praise his beauty, nor try any gallantry with her, as it is customary in Occident. Behaviours that could be interpreted in an equivocal way with them can determine the death of both, as it is frequently stated by the Jirga. Such the exposed things, it does not seem necessary to clarify what can happen in cases of violation, infidelity, abduction or so.

Although the Pashtunwali is extremely hard with the punishments, it is also rigorous with the duties that a Pashto has for with whom requested him help or protection, as it must be given even to the foes, if they request it. And the respect to the elders is unmatched with any other culture.

Inside the Pashto tribe, the clan of the Afridis is who rules in the grounds of the Khyber Pass. From immemorial times, they have enjoyed the profits of brigandage and tolls levied on all those who have sought the right to pass, from Alexander the Great, Chinggiz Khan or the very same English forces of occupation, during the Anglo-Afghans wars (1839-42, 1878-80, 1919-20) and the two world wars. Today their territory in Pakistan still constitutes to sort of free zone famous for smuggling guns, ammo, tobacco, “poppy derivates” and other goods.