The Pakul (also spelled Pakol or Khapol, from the Khowar language of Chitral) is a soft, round-topped mens’ hat, typically of wool and found in any of a variety of earthy colors: brown, black, gray, or ivory. Before it is fitted, it resembles a bag with a round, flat bottom. The wearer rolls up the sides nearly to the top, forming a thick band, which then rests on the head like a beret or cap.
The hat originated in the Chitral and Gilgit regions of what is now Northern Pakistan. It gained popularity amongst the Northeastern Pashtun tribes in the early twentieth century largely as a substitute for their large and cumbersome turbans. It also gained popularity amongst the Nuristanis and the Tajiks of Panjsher and Badakhshan. It is also worn by some Pashtun tribes who live in Kunar and Laghman.
There are two basic types of Pakul: the Chitrali style, which has a sewn brim, and the Gilgiti style which is worn much like a knit cap. The Chitrali Pakul has many variations which are popular in the Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The hat is worn in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan as well. In Pakistan, it is particularly popular in the North West Frontier Province and Northern Areas such as Gilgit and Hunza and Chitral. It is also worn in some Northern regions on Jammu and Kashmir.
The Pakul gained some attention in the West in the 1980s, famous as a Muslim, Pashtoon, or mujahideen cap, as it was a favored head covering for Afghan mujahideen who fought the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (1979–1989)