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Punjabis in Afghanistan

punjabis in afghanistan war, punjabis in afghanistan news
Punjabis in Afghanistan are residents of Afghanistan who are of Punjabi ancestry There is historically a small Punjabi community in the country, mainly consisting of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus2


  • 1 History
  • 2 Demographics
  • 3 Culture
  • 4 Notable people
  • 5 See also
  • 6 References
  • 7 Further reading


Punjab lies to the east of the Pashtun region and has shared borders with Afghanistan at various points in history3 For several centuries, dynasties centered in modern Afghanistan expanded towards Punjab, such as the Kushans, Kidarites, Hephthalites, Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Khiljis and Durranis Other kingdoms common to both regions include the Indo-Scythians, Indo-Parthians and Kabul Shahis In his 1857 review of JW Kaye's The Afghan War, Friedrich Engels describes Afghanistan as "an extensive country of Asia" which "formerly included a considerable part of the Punjab"4 In the 19th century, the Sikh Empire originating in Punjab made a series of incursions towards the Afghan frontiers, capturing large swathes of territories to the Khyber Pass

Afghan Sikh history is considered to stretch back 200 to 500 years15 Not all Sikhs are of Punjabi origin however; a small minority include locals whose ancestors adopted Sikhism during Guru Nanak's 15th century expeditions to Kabul5 In the 18th century, Hindu Khatri merchants from Punjab settled in Afghanistan and dominated regional trade67 The Sikh and Hindu population in Afghanistan may have numbered as much as 250,000 in the 1940s5 Both communities were particularly well-represented in business and government positions The reign of Zahir Shah was considered prosperous5 Some of them were wealthy landowners8 In 1947, some Sikhs from Potohar in northern Punjab arrived in Afghanistan while fleeing violence during the partition of India5


The population of Punjabi Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan stood up to 100,000 prior to the 1990s8 The Soviet invasion in 1979 and the ensuing Afghan civil wars sparked a mass exodus and the community declined drastically Most migrated to Pakistan or India, while others resettled in North America and Europe9 The current population is around 3,00012 The majority live in Kabul7 During the Taliban regime, Sikhs and Hindus were forced to wear yellow arm bands for identification as well as hang yellow flags over their homes1 Some discrimination still persists as they are often barred from government jobs, viewed as immigrants or threatened for ransom because they are considered rich5


Most of the Afghan Sikhs and Hindus adopted Afghan customs and assimilated into the local culture, speaking Pashto or Dari5 However, Punjabi is still spoken by some at home8 There have been efforts to teach Punjabi to the younger generation, as it is also the language of Sikh religious texts7 The Afghan government opened two Punjabi schools in Kabul and Jalalabad, facilitating the Sikh community2

Notable peopleedit

  • Anarkali Kaur Honaryar, Afghan politician and women right's activist2
  • Awtar Singh, Afghan politician10

See alsoedit

  • Afghanistan portal
  • Punjab portal
  • Punjabi diaspora
  • Sikhism in Afghanistan
  • Hinduism in Afghanistan
  • Indians in Afghanistan
  • Pakistanis in Afghanistan


  1. ^ a b c d "Afghanistan's Sikhs face an uncertain future" Al Jazeera 24 February 2014 Retrieved 28 July 2016 
  2. ^ a b c d "Population of Sikhs, Hindus declined drastically in Afghan: MP" Business Standard 30 July 2013 Retrieved 28 July 2016 
  3. ^ Effendi, MY 2007 Punjab Cavalry: Evolution, Role, Organisation and Tactical Doctrine 11 Cavalry, Frontier Force, 1849-1971 Oxford University Press p 30 ISBN 9780195472035 Before 1894, the Afghan border ran along the boundary of the trans-Indus frontier districts, formerly occupied by the Sikhs, and was virtually defined by the extreme limits of the Indus plain's westward extension 
  4. ^ Friedrich Engels 1857 "Afghanistan" Andy Blunden The New American Cyclopaedia, Vol I Retrieved August 25, 2010 The principal cities of Afghanistan are Kabul, the capital, Ghuznee, Peshawer, and Kandahar 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "Explainer: who are the Afghan Sikhs" The Conversation 21 August 2014 Retrieved 28 July 2016 
  6. ^ McLane, John R 2002 Land and Local Kingship in Eighteenth-Century Bengal Cambridge University Press p 131 ISBN 9780521526548 
  7. ^ a b c Stancati, Margherita; Amiri, Ehsanullah 12 January 2015 "Facing Intolerance, Many Sikhs and Hindus Leave Afghanistan" Wall Street Journal Retrieved 28 July 2016 
  8. ^ a b c "Feeling alienated, Sikhs choose to leave Afghanistan" The Hindu 10 June 2015 Retrieved 28 July 2016 
  9. ^ Manchanda, Rita 2010 States in Conflict with Their Minorities: Challenges to Minority Rights in South Asia SAGE Publications India p 182 ISBN 9788132105985 
  10. ^ "Awtar Singh Khalsa: ‘They Gave the Hindus and Sikhs a place for rubbish disposal as a Place to Live’" Huffington Post 27 March 2014 Retrieved 28 July 2016 

Further readingedit

  • Ballard, Roger 2011 "The history and current position of Afghanistan's Hindu and Sikh population" PDF Centre for Applied South Asian Studies 

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