Pushtuns Combat Their Image Problems

Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (called Bacha Khan), the great political and spiritual leader of the Pushtuns and devoted friend of Mohandas Gandhi, was a disciple of nonviolence and champion of the rights of women. The image of Pushtuns has changed considerably. Ahmed Rashid in the BBC on Pushtun efforts to combat that image:

They are angry, frustrated and now want to reclaim their identity from being lumped with the Taleban and as perpetrators of terrorism and suicide bombings.

Most Afghan prisoners held by the Americans in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba or at Bagram air base near Kabul are Pashtun.

Those who have emerged from these – and Afghan and Pakistani-run jails are also Pashtun.

So are the thousands of civilian casualties who have been bombed by mistake or carelessness in southern Afghanistan by US and Nato pilots during military operations since 11 September.

US soldiers who knocked down doors and interrogated women, alienating the population, did so largely in the Pashtun south, where American forces have been accused by locals of treating all Pashtuns as the enemy – an association that Nato is now trying to change.