Pashtoon Culture and their Love for Islam
It is important to emphasize the importance of Pashtun culture in Afghan society, even if ‘modern’ Afghanistan is keen to demonstrate (both to itself and the outside world) its multi-ethnic self-image. Pashtuns have traditionally dominated Afghanistan, so the extent that the term ‘Afghan’ was originally used as a synonym of ‘Pashtun’. Afghan emirs (referred to as ‘kings’ or ‘shahs’ since 1926) have all been members of the (Pashtun) Durrani ‘tribe’, whose geographical heartland surrounds the city of Kandahar.1 This Pashtun element is essential to understanding Afghanistan’s history, including the last fifteen years period, dominated by the rise, fall and steady resilience of the Taliban movement. The latter is, of course, perceived as an extremist movement belonging to the totalitarian end of the spectrum of political Islam, but reducing the Taliban simply to its religious driving forces would be shortsighted. Indeed, Pashtun nationalism is a key element of the Taliban movement (Sinno, 2008). Though this fact is well known, it is comparatively unacknowledged by global media coverage, whose main focus is factors that overlap with Al-Qaida, such as ‘terrorism’ and ‘backwardness’, thus amalgamating the two in the common perception.