A genetic study to investigate a connection between the lost tribes of Israel and the Pashtuns of Afghanistan and northern Pakistan will be funded by Israel, according to a report in The Observer.
Israeli anthropologists have claimed that the Pashtuns may be one of the 10 lost tribes of Israel in light of longstanding historical and anecdotal evidence. No scientific proof has ever been able to demonstrate a conclusive link.
However, an Indian researcher based at the National Institute of Immuno-haemotology in Mumbai will now spend time at a leading Israeli institute, Technion to study the findings of her research. Shahnaz Ali collected the blood-samples from members of the Pashtun Afridi tribe living near Lucknow, India. Previous research in a similar area failed to determine a link either way.
According to the report, 10 of the original 12 tribes of Israel were pushed into exile 2,730 years ago when the Assyrians conquered the kingdom of Israel. Modern-day Jews belong to the two remaining tribes of Benjamin and Judah, according to Jewish history. Ever since, speculation has centered on the exact whereabouts of the lost tribes. Claims of their traces in China, Burma, Nigeria and Central Asia have been offered in the past. It is believed that the tribes settled in areas around latter-day Northern Iraq and Afghanistan therefore making the Pashtun link the most compelling.
Navras Aafreedi, an academic at Lucknow University said, "Pathans, or Pashtuns, are the only people in the world whose probable descent from the lost tribes of Israel finds mention in a number of texts from the 10th century to the present day, written by Jewish, Christian and Muslim scholars alike, both religious as well as secularists."
However, Ali remains cautious. "The theory has been a matter of curiosity since long ago, and now I hope a scientific analysis will provide us with some answers about the Israelite origin of Afridi Pathans. We still don't know what the truth is, but efforts will certainly give us direction," she told The Times of India last year.