The importance of a tribe as a political system and its reluctance to subdue to the state efforts to erase it Essay


The folk is an of import political system that existed in the universe chiefly in the country of the Middle East. The Rwala and the Pathans are two illustrations of bing folks that play a major function in the country in which they are located, proved by the fact that their tribal system coexist within the provinces boundary. The two folks non merely do they go out in one state but they maintain their being within different states.

Due to their geographical location in which the two folks live, the boundary line zone, each state left them entirely with their political system without intervention from the cardinal authorities. The Rwala have good dealingss within the states they lived in its boundary lines with the exclusion of Iraq, while the Pathans were free from province control until late, when the US invaded Afghanistan and pressured Pakistan to take control of the tribal countries of Pakistan as they harbor Taliban. Why does the tribal political system still exist in the epoch of the Westphalian province system? And why are the folks ‘ resilient towards the province actions to take control of their country? These are the inquiries that this research paper is traveling to look into. The research paper is divided into three parts. The first 1 is devoted to giving background information about the two folks of Pathans and Rwala. The 2nd portion explores the grounds behind the strength of the folks and the last portion probes the grounds behind the reluctance of tribes towards the policies of the province to detribalise them.

Background Information about the Rawala and the Pathans

In order to understand the grounds behind the coexistence of the folk as a political system with the current political system of the province, a basic definition for the folk in needed. The folk is: “ a fanciful signifier of human societal organisation based on a set of smaller groups…

holding impermanent or lasting political integrating, and defined by traditions of common descent, linguistic communication, civilization, and political orientation. “ [ 1 ] The members of a tribe portion many characteristic with each other that make them similar and the most of import one is common descent which denotes holding relation to the household of the prophesier, his comrades or his tribe Quraish. For a folk to legalize its regulation and last it must follow its geology to the prophesier.

Any connexion to the prophesier or his surroundings serves as the basic instrument to warrant the regulation of the folk. This can be both true and assumed, for case many Berber folks in Northern Africa changed their names from Berber to Arabic to indicate to their dealingss to the prophesier. While in the Ottomans were utilizing such names as Ali and Hussein to warrant their regulation of Islamic imperium to the extent that in any mosque in Turkey the name Hussein and Ali are engraved which make people to misidentify the mosque for a Shiite one, which is non. Without line of descent to the prophesier, the folk will lose land and can non legalize its power within its population, hence honor prevarications in line of descent.The folk exists because its members insure its being by following a peculiar codification that serves as the base of order and jurisprudence. This codification might alter from one folk to another but the basic thought is that the codification insures that each member of the folk is staying by the imposts of the folk ; this is done through the engagement of persons in decision-makings that are done through consensus. For case, the tribal codification within the Rwala is really different from the Islamic jurisprudence to the extent that when a instance involves a adult male and a adult females the tribal tribunal tend to prefer adult females, while among the Pathans the tribal codification “ Pukhtunwali ” tend to be influenced by Islamic jurisprudence to the extent that both the tribal jurisprudence and Islamic jurisprudence are two face of one coin.The Rwala are a folk that is divided into five subdivisions: the Murath, the Doghman, the Ga`adza`a, the Frejje and the Kwatzbe [ 2 ] that live in the boundary line zone of four states: Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iraq.

While the Pathans are a folk that live in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, peculiarly in the boundary line zone between the two states, both the Pathans that live in Afghanistan and those that live in Pakistan do non acknowledge the physical boundary line and see themselves as one united folk. For illustration, whenever their fellow folks are in problem they instantly help them as it is shown in the film, “ the Pathans ” Disappearing World, the Pakistani Pathans gathered to assist their fellow Pathans in Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion, and one of the Pathans justified this act as assisting their brother in clip of demand. This sense of brotherhood is non merely present among Pathans but besides among the Rwala, this aid is a duty that each individual in folk is required to carry through for his household members, this duty is non obligatory.

For illustration, a individual may decline to assist his uncle and be scot-free ; nevertheless his repute is traveling to be tarnished.

The Political Importance of the Tribe

The political importance of the folk lies in the manner of life of tribal people which values consensus, solidarity, repute and retaliation. There is no individual with extreme authorization in the folk nor is power familial. Each folk has a head but this head can non compel his folk to make certain actions without traveling through consensus, as every individual in the folk has a right to show an sentiment over affair that concerns the folk. This demand for consensus among tribal people makes it difficult for any province to command the folk or influence it, because when the folks perceive its head as being a authorities agent or accepting payoffs from authorities his repute will be unsavoury and will the population will elect a new head ; and even when folks are being outstripped of their caputs, they still remain integral.

Repute is in an of import facet of tribal people because heads can non hale or oblige his population ; nevertheless the lone political force available to him is to act upon determination devising. And in order for a head to act upon his population he needs four factors: “ good information, the ability to give good advice, a repute for sound advocate and an audience to influence, ” [ 3 ] the beginnings of repute for the Rwala come from Lineage, award, busting, generousness, courage, cordial reception. Besides, the fact of holding a consensus in which every person ‘s sentiment is valued which makes it difficult to make a incorporate position about any affair, to the extent that the folk is being under the dictatorship of the minority. The consensus involves major issues such as assisting those who are at war or a really little affair such as a domestic hassle between a male parent and his boy.

In the film, the Jirga, the organic structure responsible for doing consensus among the Pathans, gather to do his sentiment about the male parent that complained about his boy non paying him plenty. The consequence of the consensus was interesting because even though the boy did non like the determination, in the terminal he subdue to the determination of the Jirga by snoging the white payoff of his male parent. The Islamic influence helps to explicate the determination made by the Jurga as parents are giving particular position in Islamic jurisprudence.The absence of a cardinal power in the tribal construction makes it difficult to command the folk because “ no person has political power, no group has political power and no household has political power ; power is restricted to the workings of public sentiment. Even public sentiment has no formal coercive power ; co-operation can be withdrawn and that is all. “ [ 4 ] The tribal population does hold truenesss to their folks but non to the province, because the province is a resented system by the both Pathans and Rwala for one ground: it interferes in their life style and tribal people do non wish to be interfered with. Even when the tribal population exerts trueness to a peculiar province it does so with the thought of paying testimonial to the governing household and non to the province itself.

For case, the Rwala members who are in the dirt of Saudi Arabia pledge their trueness outside the folk to the household of Al Saud and non the province of Saudi Arabia. [ 5 ]Solidarity is another facet that explains the strength of the folk. Each member of the folk is responsible for his household members and the folk is responsible for its members. This solidarity does non merely affect important issues but besides mundane and everyday 1s like re-sewing a collapsible shelters, as it is stated by William Lancaster: “ resewing a collapsible shelter is a good illustration of how co-operation is achieved..

. it would be a formidable undertaking for one or two people, but it is ever a co-operative attempt. “ [ 6 ] This presence of solidarity does non intend that tribal people do non hold jobs or that they do non make problems between themselves, jobs and dissensions exist within folks. However, the ways jobs are resolved differ in a manner that they are resolved but non to the extent of necessitating intervention outside the folk. Because the folk needs ever to demo strength and that its members are non divided, as it is pointed by William Lancaster “ The battle between the two brothers for the smuggling franchise was resolved, on the surface at least, by the demand to show a united face towards intercession. “ [ 7 ]Revenge is an of import feature of the folk ; this vengefulness is allowed when a individual from the folk is killed.

Therefore his household members have the responsibility to take his retaliation non needfully by killing the perpetrator but by killing any member of the household or the folk of the perpetrator. Cipher can halt retaliation or forestall the violent death from taking topographic point, unless the household of the bereaved accepted a fiscal requital for the decease of her household member. [ 8 ] The retaliation procedure involves a rhythm that is difficult to halt without blood to the extent that the ground behind the feud might be forgotten. As it is pointed out by William Lancaster: “ the Mu`abhil have been involved in a individual feud for 15 twenty old ages. It started with a row over a camel or a sheep, no 1 can retrieve..

. A Mu`abhil killed a Sabih. A colony was arranged and the Mu`abhil paid about 45 camels in compensation. “ [ 9 ] However, the job did non wholly stop because the dead adult male left a boy who was 4-year old at the clip of the compensation trade and when he grew up he demanded for his portion that the Mu`abhil refused to pay due to the lifting monetary values of camel. Revenge is best understood that none of the folks ‘ member ‘s blood is inexpensive and that killing its population will affect a long battle before being it resolved. The folks are loath to follow the bureaucratism of the province by traveling to civil tribunals to acquire their right as it will take clip and likely the opinion will non be something they expected.

Therefore, they prefer to take retaliation alternatively. This is another ground which makes the province unattractive to the tribal population.

The Reasons behind the Failure of the State in Subduing Tribes

One of the grounds behind the reluctance of folks to be urbanised and autumn under the regulation of the province lies in its misgiving of intervention. While the Rwala and Pathan both welcome new thoughts they, nevertheless, dislike any alteration exerted by force. Harmonizing to William Lancaster “ changed imposed from exterior is another affair and they will defy it bitterly, non because its infliction does non let them to respond and partake in conformity with other factors. “ [ 10 ] The same thing goes for the Pathans, the United States of America is act uponing Pakistan to acquire clasp of the countries where Pathans live. However, the Pathans are non willing to repress because they do non like any alteration to be imposed on them from the exterior.

[ 11 ]The two folks of Rwala and Pathans both live in really sensitive countries to the extent that states do non seek to enforce province govern their countries and let them have their tribal jurisprudence, non because both Jordan and Pakistan ( before the US-Afghan war ) are non able to destruct them but because merely stamp downing them is non deserving it ; it would merely convey more problems than benefits. Furthermore, both folks have dealingss with the provinces they live in. For case, the Rwala maintain good dealingss with Saudi Arabia through matrimony dealingss to the household of Al Saud while in Syria they are representatives in the parliament, hence functioning the involvement of their folk. Sing the Pathans, the current nowadays of Afghanistan Hamid Karazai is Pathan from the Durrani subdivision.The economic liberty of the tribal people is besides one of the grounds that give a province a difficult clip when covering with folks.

Particularly as the agencies used by folks are non illegal. For case, the support of many Rwala Population lies on smuggling which works good for the folk as it is situated in a boundary line country. Although this smuggling is much resented by provinces such as Jordan, it is tolerated for two grounds. First, the province gives certain liberty every bit long as they patrol the boundary line. Second, even smuggling can be good to states such Iraq during the Gulf War where the trade stoppage prevented its population from acquiring its basic demands such as tyres, while Saudi Arabia gets fruits from Styria in return for autos.As it is discussed above retaliation is an of import facet that defines a folk, it is one of the most misunderstood footings about the folks, because retaliation does non ask the killing the individual who committed the slaying. But killing anybody from his household, folk or state is sufficient to slake the demand for retaliation.

When Americans bomb countries in Waziristan and Swat Valley and kill many people, the Pathans feel the demand to take retaliation for the violent deaths of their household members by killing any American soldier that they come across, and this retaliation rhythm is difficult to halt every bit long as any individual dead requires a retaliation, salvage in instance the household accepts a fiscal requital.Other options of detribalising the folk lies on either urbanising them or do them kill each other but so the inquiries rise of whether it is worth it and who will police the boundary line in instance of the boundary line zone between Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The British tried to present instruction in the Pathan tribal countries but they failed and so did the Pakistani authorities which succeeded in merely including Pakistani national anthems in schools.

However, the Pathans were lament on non allowing the cardinal authorities make them dependent on their instruction and wellness system. The Pathans revere the Islamic jurisprudence which is the basis of Pukhtunwali and want to keep their liberty wellness by establishing it on the prophet`s medical specialty patterns through herb and Koran.


The folk is a political system that has survived within the era of the state -state. The societal equality and the political importance that the folk gives to its single make the folk a powerful entity that proved to be difficult for provinces to wipe out. Tribal people are proud of their folks due to their line of descent to the prophesier and care for the qualities of solidarity, repute, cordial reception, and award in add-on to avenge. The failure of understanding the tribal traits makes it difficult to stamp down them allow entirely pass on with them. For case, the ground why the Taliban refused to turn in Osama Bin Laden to the US is rooted in the fact that he was a invitee, hence turning him in is a evildoing of one of the constituents of their Pukhtunwali: cordial reception. And traveling farther to stamp downing them through military actions will merely worsen affairs as the American do non understand how retaliation is dealt with, which would do any individual with an American military uniform a retaliation mark.


    Lancaster, William. The Rwala Bedouin Today ( Second Edition ) .Long Grove, Illinois: Waveland Press, 1981.Summer, Andrew, Director. “ The Pathans ” Disappearing World. Akbar, Ahmed anthropologist, Discovery Channel, 1988.“ folk.

    ” Encyclop & A ; aelig ; Defense Intelligence Agency Britannica. Encyclop & A ; aelig ; Defense Intelligence Agency Britannica Online. Encyclop & A ; aelig ; Defense Intelligence Agency Britannica, 2010. Web. 7 Apr. 2010.