This term has a very wide application as used by the people of India, and a very restricted one as used by the Pathans themselves In the former case it is applied indiscriminately to all the peoples inhabiting the country now known as Afghanistan, including even the Tajik and Hazarah, who are both Persian-speaking people In the latter case it is applied to Pukhto-speaking people only, and even then with a distinction, as the proper patronymic of certain tribes who are neither Afghan nor Ghilzai, but simply Pathan or Pukhtun. In this latter case it is the name applied to, and accepted by, the different peoples or races who speak the Pukhto language and inhabit the Pathan or Pukhtun country - much in the same way as a native of England, taken in the comprehensive sense of the word, is called Englishman, and accepts the name, whether he be in reality Irish, or Scotch, or Welsh; - that is to say, the Afghan and the Ghilzai are both Pathans, but the true Pathan is neither one nor the other, just as the Irish, Scotch, and Welsh are Englishmen, whilst the true Englishman is neither one nor the other of the three.
The origin of the term Pathan, and of the nationalities originally represented by it, carry us back to very early times. The term Pathan is not a native word at all It is the Hindustani form of the native word Pukhtana, which is the plural of Pukhtun, or Pakhtun (the a as in our pack) as it is pronounced by the Afridi. And Pukhtun is the proper patronymic of the people inhabiting the country called Pukhtunkhwa,, and speaking the language called Pukhtu or Pukhto. What the meaning of the word Pukhta, from which Pukhtun and its above derivatives are held to come, may be is a matter of speculation By some it is supposed to be the same word as the native Pukhta - a "ridge" or "hill" - in distinction to Ghar - a "mountain chain" or "peak," -the two words corresponding respectively to the Persian pushta and koh Be this as it may, and there is no denying the fact that the name Pukhtun-khwa - the "Pukhtun coast or quarter" - is very well in accordance with the character of the country in its physical aspect, there is also the fact that, in the time of Herodotus, four centuries before our era, this very country was called Pactiya or Pactiyica, and its natives Pactiyans. In Western Afghanistan, the harsh kh is changed into the soft sh, and Pukhtun becomes Pushkin, Pukhtu becomes Pushtu, and so on By some Pukhtun tribes - the Afridi notably - Pukhtun, Pukhtu, & c, are pronounced Pakhtun, Pakhtu, etc, and this brings the words nearer to the Pakhtues of Herodotus. In short, the Pakhtun or Pukhtun of to-day, we may take it, is identical in race and position with the Pactiyan of the Greek historian.
There is a very remarkable coincidence in terms, if nothing more, derivable from this word Pactiya, Herodotus mentions another and entirely distinct country of this name in the province of Armenia. And it is not difficult to trace the same name through the countries of Southern Europe to the ancient Pictavium - or modern Poictiers - in France, and thence on to the Picts of our own Islands In fact, to the curious speculator in archaeology, there is a wide field for enquiry and research in this Pakhtun-khwa country, where the Pacts and Scyths who inhabit it may be held to corre-spond with the Picts and Scots of our own country, whilst the Kambari of the Khan of Kelat's family, and large sections of the Afridi people, called Kambar-khel and Kamari, together with the Logari of Logar or Lohgar, may be compared with the Cambrians and Logrians, of ancient Britain. Whether there be any connection or not between these names, their similarity and juxtaposition in such widely separated regions is at least noteworthy, if not deserving of more serious attention and investigation.
This Pactiya of Herodotus was a country bordering on the Indus, and the most eastern province of those into which the Empire of Darius Hystaspes was divided It contained four contiguous nations, who were placed under the command of a single Satrap or Governor, and it corresponded in extent very nearly exactly with the modern Pukhtun-khwa, or "Pukhtun quarter" The term Pukhtun-khwa is a purely home word, and seldom heard from the mouth of a stranger. By outsiders and foreigners - on the side of India almost exclusively - the country is known by the name of Roh, which has the same signification as Koh - "mountain" - and its natives are called Rohilla - 'mountaineer," or Highlands, and Highlanders.
The four nations who dwelt in this country in the time of Herodotus were the Gandarn, the Aparytae, the Sattagyddae, and the Dadicae. The first have long since been identified with the ancient inhabitants of that part of the Peshawar valley now known as the Yusufzai and Mahmand country. The second and third (see Rawhnson's Herodotus) have hitherto been entirely unknown, and are now for the first time identified with the Afridi, and the Khattak of the present day The last, or Dadicae, are still the subject of speculation, but are, I think, most probably represented by the nearly extinct tube of the Dadi, who dwell amongst the Kakar, on the southern border of the ancient Sattagyddae country. It is curious to find these very nations now, after a lapse of more than two thousand years, retaining the identical names and the same positions as those assigned to them by the ancient Greek author, who is justly styled the "Father of History." To understand the relative positions of these four Pactiyan nations, it will be as well first to take a glance at the ancient geography of the country, which in early times was known as Ariya Vartha to the Persians, and Ariana to the Greeks, afterwards as Khurasan, and in recent times only as Afghanistan Its principal divisions, as brought to our knowledge by the Greeks, were, in ancient times, Bactria and Margiana on the north, Ariya and Zuangra or Diangra on the west, Paropamisus and Arachosia in the middle tract, and Pactiya and part of Bactria on the east with Gedrosid to the south. The limits of none of these are now accurately definable, though for practical purposes, their general position and extent are sufficiently well known Bactria - the Bakhtar of the Persians, the Bahlika of the Hindus, and Bactria of the Greeks may be considered to comprise all the country between the Upper Oxus or Wakhsh, as far west as the Balkh frontier, and the Upper Indus to the point where it is struck by the Dumah range running due east and west from the head waters of the Swat and Panjkora rivers - the Suastus and Guraeas respectively of the Greeks In a south-westerly direction, its bolder probably ran along the Bamian hills to Gardan Diwar, and thence along the Pughman range to that of Altamur - bounding the Logar and Wardak country to the southward - which connects the Sherdahan, or "Lion's Mouth" pass of Ghazni with the Pari-daria, or "Fairy Glen" of Jagdalak (not an inappropriate name with its ruby mines and gold diggings, though a spot of mournful memory as the scene of the greatest slaughter and climax of disasters that befel our retreating army in January, 1842); whilst onwards from this point the Kabul river, down to the junction with it of the Kunar or Chitral stream, formed the boundary. In the north-east, the country which appears on our maps as Bolor, but in native books is written Balur, was probably included in Bactria, and comprised the districts of Chitral or Kashkar, Yasin, Gilgit, and Skardo. In fact, it appears that the word Balur itself is merely a natural variant form of Bakhtar, as in the corresponding changes from the Persian dukhtar to the Pukhtu lur, "daughter," from sokhtan to swal, "to burn;" from padandar to plandar, "stepfather," from madar to mor, "mother," from padar to plar, "father," and so on. Pactiya - the Pukhtun-khwa of the natives, and Roh of Muhammadan writers - apparently comprised all the country of the modern Suleman range and the Sufed Koh, extending northward in one direction to the head waters of the Swat and Panjkora streams and the Dumah range, and in the other to the south hanks of the Logar and Kabul rivers down to Jalalabad. The southern limit was, probably, the same as that of the present Kakar country, where it marches with the Peshin and Shal districts, and the Bori valley to the Indus. The eastern limit was the Indus itself. And the western, the Helmand, including thus the country of Arachosia of the Greeks - the Ar-Rukhaj of Arabian geographers, and the Zabul of the Muhammadan historians - to the south of Ghazni. And these, roughly stated, are the limits of the present Pukhtun-khwa. This territory was originally the seat of the true Pukhtun people, who were, as they still are, Indians - the Afghan, Ghilzai, "Waziri, Kakar, etc., etc, being later and comparatively modern immigrants and conquerors. Within these limits of the ancient Pactlya were located the four contiguous nations above-mentioned, who were, in the time of Darius, combined in a single satrapy, under a single satrap, but under military commanders of their own. Let us now proceed to consider each of these nations separately.