Pakistan is home to nearly 200 million, the sixth largest nation by population in the world. Counted among the 200 million are an ethnic minority group of just 4,000 people, known as the Kalash.
The Kalash are light-skinned minority group of about 4,000 people who inhabit a lush 1,000-square-mile valley in an isolated region of northeast Pakistan.
Watch Jules Suzdaltsev unravel the history of these mysterious people in this video.
How exactly did this indigenous group find its way into Pakistan? Although no historian can say for certain, the current consensus among scholars as well as local lore among the indigenous population is that the Kalash descended from Alexander the Great and his Macedonian forces, whose campaign of conquest engulfed much of East Asia around 300 B.C.
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In 2014, an international team of researchers collected DNA samples from 1,490 people belonging to genetically distinct populations. What the researchers found, and published in the journal Science, in Kalash DNA was traces of European and Middle Eastern ancestry, bolstering the case that the Kalash are descendents of Alexander the Great and his army.
In a country where 96 percent of the population identify as Muslim, the Kalash have their own religion, a polytheistic faith that involves ancestor worth and a single "creator deity." The Kalash people also have their own language, culture and traditions.
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These religious and cultural differences have occasionally led to clashes in a part of the world not exactly known for moderation. Neighboring Muslim communities in Pakistan and Afghanistan have been a threat to the Kalash, with many falling victim to assaults, robberies and conversion attempts by both the Taliban and even local Muslims.
Because of the small size of the Kalash community and the encroachment of the outside world, the Kalash have sought protection both from the Pakistani government and United Nations.
-- Talal Al-Khatib
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