Awan (Urdu: اعوان) is a tribe living predominantly in the northern, central, and western parts of Pakistani Punjab, with significant numbers also present in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Kashmir, and to a lesser extent in Sindh and Pakistani Balochistan.
Jamal J. Elias notes that the Awans believe themselves to be of Arab origin, descended from Ali ibn Abu Talib and that the claim of Arab descent gives them "high status in the Indian Muslim environment".
Christophe Jaffrelot says:
The Awan deserve close attention, because of their historical importance and, above all, because they settled in the west, right up to the edge of Baluchi and Pashtun territory. Legend has it that their origins go back to Imam Ali and his second wife, Hanafiya. Historians describe them as valiant warriors and farmers who imposed their supremacy on the Janjua in part of the Salt Range and established large colonies all along the Indus to Sind, and a densely populated center not far from Lahore.
People of the Awan community have a strong presence in the Pakistani Army and a notable martial tradition. They were listed as an "agricultural tribe" by the British Raj in 1925, a term that was then synonymous with classification as a "martial race".
Centre for Human Genetics of Edith Cowan University, Australia, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Pakistan and Institute of General Genetics of Russian Academy of Science, Russia conducted different genetic studies on Awan and its neighbouring tribes, namely Khattar and Rajput, which concluded that Awans are genetically isolated due to inbreeding, and out of 99 different alleles, 28 alleles are shared by all three communities.
Department of Genetics of Hazara University, Pakistan conducted a dental morphology and DNA analysis of major tribes in Northern Pakistan which recorded that haplogroup T1 (originated in Israel) is only found in Awans,
Department of Genetics of Hazara University, Pakistan, Department of Anthropology of University of Alaska Fairbanks, USA and Center for Human Genetics of Hazara University, Pakistan conducted different studies in which hypervariable segment I (HVSI) from mtDNA was analyzed to establish the genetic lineage of the populations living in Northern Pakistan. A three-cytosine deletion (CCC) at position 16191-16193 was clearly observed in the ethnic Awan population.
This [Awan] tribe is perhaps the most heavily recruited tribe in the [Pakistan] Army.
There was a reduction in heterozygosity and high average inbreeding effects (FIS and/or HS), particularly in the Awan, indicating genetic isolation and a high cumulative level of autozygosity.
A three-cytosine deletion (CCC) at position 16191-16193 observed in the ethnic Awan population residing in Mansehra.
... Sultan Bahu (d. 1691) whose real name was Sultan Muhammad. Born into an Awan Family in Shorkot (District Jhang), ...