ethnic group belonging to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India (by Pakistani and Afghan descent).
The Pashtuns (, or ; Pashto: پښتانه, Pax̌tānə; also Pukhtuns), historically known as ethnic Afghans or Pathans, are an Iranic-speaking ethnic group native to South Asia, who share a common history and culture. They primarily live in Afghanistan and Pakistan. A substantial majority of ethnic Pashtuns share Pashto—an Eastern Iranic language in the Indo-European language family—as the native language.
Globally, the Pashtuns are estimated to number around 50 million, but an accurate count remains elusive due to the lack of an official census in Afghanistan since 1979. The majority of the Pashtuns live in the region regarded as Pashtunistan, which has been split between two countries since the Durand Line border was formed after the Second Anglo-Afghan War. The Pashtuns are a significant minority group in Pakistan, where they constitute the second-largest ethnic group or about 15 percent of the population. Smaller, but still significant Pashtun diaspora communities exist in Sindh and Punjab in Pakistan, especially in the cities of Karachi and Lahore, and in the Rohilkhand region of Uttar Pradesh, India. A recent Pashtun diaspora has also developed in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, primarily in the United Arab Emirates.
As the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan (anywhere between 42 and 60 percent of the population), Pashtuns have been the dominant ethno-linguistic group for over 300 years. During the Delhi Sultanate era, the 15th–16th century Lodi dynasty briefly replaced the preexisting rulers in North India until Babur completely deposed the Lodi dynasty. Other Pashtuns fought the Safavids and Mughals before obtaining an independent state in the early 18th century, which began with a successful revolution by Mirwais Hotak followed by conquests of Ahmad Shah Durrani. The Barakzai dynasty played a vital role during the Great Game from the 19th century to the 20th century as they were caught between the imperialist designs of the British and Russian empires.
The Pashtuns are the world's largest segmentary lineage ethnic group. Estimates of the number of Pashtun tribes and clans range from about 350 to over 400. There have been many notable Pashtun people throughout history: Ahmad Shah Durrani is regarded as the founder of the modern state of Afghanistan, while Bacha Khan was a Pashtun independence activist against the rule of the British Raj. Some others include Imran Khan, Malala Yousafzai, Shahid Afridi, Saif Ali Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Zarine Khan, Farhad Darya, Abdul Ahad Mohmand, Naghma, Ahmad Zahir, Zakir Husain, Hamid Karzai, Ashraf Ghani, and Mullah Mohammed Omar.
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