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Pashtunwali (Pashto: پښتونولي) is the traditional lifestyle of the Pashtun people. Scholars widely have interpreted it as being "the way of the Afghans" or "the code of life". Pashtunwali is widely practised by Pashtuns in the Pashtunistan regions of Afghanistan, Khyber Pakhtunkwa and Northern Balochistan.
Pashtunwali dates back to ancient pre-Islamic times.
Further information: Pashtun people
The native Pashtun tribes, often described as fiercely independent people, have inhabited the Pashtunistan region (eastern Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan) since at least the 1st millennium BC. During that period, much of their mountainous territory has remained outside government rule or control. Pashtun resistance to outside rule and the terrain they reside in is maybe why Indigenous Pashtuns still follow Pashtunwali, which is a fundamental common law of the land or "code of life".
Pashtunwali rules are accepted in Afghanistan and Pakistan (mainly in and around the Pashtunistan region), and also in some Pashtun communities around the world. Some non-Pashtun Afghans and others have also adopted its ideology or practices for their own benefit. Conversely, many urbanized Pashtuns tend to ignore the rules of Pashtunwali. Passed on from generation to generation, Pashtunwali guides both individual and communal conduct. Practiced by the majority of Pashtuns, it helps to promote Pashtunization.
Ideal Pukhtun behaviour approximates the features Pukhtunwali, the code of the Pukhtuns, which includes the following traditional features: courage (tora), revenge (badal), hospitality (melmestia), generosity to a defeated...— Maliha Zulfacar, 1999
Pashtuns embrace an ancient traditional, spiritual, and communal identity tied to a set of moral codes and rules of behaviour, as well as to a record of history spanning some seventeen hundred years.
Pashtunwali promotes self-respect, independence, justice, hospitality, love, forgiveness, revenge and tolerance toward all (especially to strangers or guests). It is considered to be the personal responsibility of every Pashtun to discover and rediscover Pashtunwali's essence and meaning.
It is the way of the Pashtuns. We have melmestia, being a good host, nanawatai, giving asylum, and badal, vengeance. Pashtuns live by these things.— Abdur, A character in Morgen's War
Pashtuns are organised into tribal or extended family groups often led by a "Khan" (a wealthy and influential leader from the group). Disputes within clans are settled by a jirga (traditionally a tribal assembly involving all adult males). In times of foreign invasion, Pashtuns have been known to unite under a Pashtun religious leaders such as Saidullah Baba in the Siege of Malakand and even under Pashtána female leaders such as Malalai of Maiwand in the Battle of Maiwand.
Although not exclusive, the following thirteen principles form the major components of Pashtunwali.
The three primary principles:
I don't want to go down in history as someone who betrayed his guest. I am willing to give my life, my regime. Since we have given him refuge, I cannot throw him out now.
The other main principles:
Marcus Luttrell's story is retold in the epilogue of Lone Survivor, and The Beast includes a Pashtun character who explains the code's first three principles. Later, a captured Soviet soldier captured invokes the principle of Nənawā́te to be spared from execution.
The three primary pillars of Pashtunwali are badal, or revenge, melamstia, or hospitality, and nanawatia, or refuge.