Hospitality (Melmastia) among Pukhtuns

Hospitality is the basic element of the pukhtun code of honour or pukhtunwali. This institution at the individual level as well as collective level dominates the life of a pukhtun.

Hospitality takes different shapes in various situations, ranging from a cup of tea to a feast, which involve preparation and consumption of enormous food. The people are very hospitable to the guests, and they are given the best accommodation in the hujra and the best food. The magnitude and range of hospitality reflects the economic status of the host.
A man of middle class will offer ordinary meal or simple tea to his guest. While a chief or khan will spend much. Failing on the part of the host to offer good meals to the guest would invite social disapproval and becomes the subject of criticism (Peghor). People of the host community would call him shoom (miser).
There are two types of people among pukhtuns. One is melmadost(guest friendly) and another is shoom(miser). Melmadost is treated as honorable person while shoom is an expression of abuse.

The width of dastarkhwan (table cloth) usually indicates the importance of the host. Melmastia not only demand feast but also full protection to the guest. In this regard, even an enemy comes to a puktun then he will provide him full support and protection.

Many people are of the opinion that hospitality is not only the quality of pukhtuns but can be seen in every society. This can be right but an Anthropological research has concluded that Pukhtuns hospitality is unique. No doubt its unique but it brings destruction as well, when they given shelter to some extreme elements.

Pashtuns Hospitality has been proved fatal in a sense that it has done hospitality to some extremist in guise of Religion Islam. The complex structure of Pashtun tribal society leads to haven for extremists. The supportive factors were the strong cohesion with in tribes, revenge feuds, provisions of asylum and shelter to all guests in the name of brotherhood. Honour killing which is a tribal custom too gives way to such extremism. Suppression of social and cultural freedom and due to fundamentalist religious leaders and the western invasions have lead to insurgency and gives inspirations to pashtuns tribes to fight against extremism as well as invasions to secure their rights. It still to be watch how much they get success in the restoration and rehabilitation. Destruction is easy but construction took time.

There is a common proverb about Pukhtuns that if they are taken to hell with love, they will happily go with you but if they are taken to heaven by force , they will never go with you. This is some how another unique feature of them. Normally people of materliastic world dont consider these fine things. Because of this feature, mostly simple and innocent pukhtuns make lot of losses in their lives. And today they are standing on a crucial stage where they had payed huge cost for their simplicity, hospitality and sincerity.

Educational Institue are must to eradicate illiteracy and there is need to differentiate between moderate Islamic culture and extremist. Only this can be fruitful in a long run. To continue resistance against extremism and to support the moderate Islam would lead them in towards peace and prosperity.


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