I find the best analogy for the caste system happens to be Latin America. There was intense mixing in Latin American; there is creolic elements (I mean creole in the general sense not specific) throughout the continent.
However the basic structure; Indians at the bottom, Mestizos in the middle and Europeans (or as they used to be called Criollos) at the top remains pretty much intact (maybe a few exceptions like Paraguay but I can’t hazard a guess there).
I imagine the synthesis of identity in the Subcontinent pre-Islam happened much in the same way. There were some distinctions for instance the Europeans had Christianity whereas what we know to Hinduism developed in the cultural encounters in the Subcontinent.
However the idea that somehow the Aryans were this gentle-folk who somehow managed to place themselves at the very pinnacle of the structure is a bit absurdist. The genetic testing has shown very clearly that ANI (and specifically the Aryan component) is correlated to caste/status rank in Hinduism.
Also that Brahmins are essential to Hinduism and Brahmins tend to be the “Aryan hotspots” in any region.
Furthermore as I alluded to in a comment on the Kalash; the ANIsation of upwardly and aspirational lower caste individuals is a thing. Observationally the Brahmin girl marrying a non-Brahmin boy is so commonplace so as to be remarked upon; the caste weightage carries huge signifiers in the dating and marriage market.
Caste may not be a bar (that’s not entirely true but even if we were to accept that) but the marriage market is not equal. It’s one of those phenomenons that is spoken about but maybe not written on.
I remember a late middle aged couple where the lady was a Telugu Brahmin and her husband a Tamil non-Brahmin. Her parents relented because he was a doctor. In another case the Tamil NRI (non-Brahmin) married a TamBram girl; leveraging his NRI status.
Pakistan is not immune to this phenomenon. I know of a Pathan with only (and many) sisters. All of them have married Punjabis because once they *entered* the Pakistani dating market through educational systems they were *high* in demand for their fairer skins etc.
The same thing is happening to Kalash and Parsi women. The previous article ellides the fact that these Kalash are essentially villagers (and poor ones) who are contracting pretty good matches in urban Pakistan (the girl whose sister married into Sindhi household is a case in point).
The fact that the Kalash already have *Pakistani names* even if they are pagan means that they are integrating (like the Christian minority) into the Pakistani socio-economic structure.
A lot of the exotic (and perceived good looking) communities are suffering from the issue that their women are being *bid up* and their men are too proud (or barred in the case of the Kalash) to marry out.
Finally to return to my point about Latin America; while it is a fusion of sorts, it’s very evident that the *High Cultural strains* are profoundly European and the low culture Afro-Indio. Mexico may be proudly Aztec/Mestizo but it still resorts to Catholicism, Spanish language (maybe localised) and stems from a particularly colonial experience (it’s the inheritor of the Spanish state not the Aztec, which is obviously understandable).
This is a very good analogy to how the Aryans and their culture are in India. The only distinction is the age and that Aryan culture in 1000 BC was not as developed as Spanish culture was circa 1500s therefore there was more admixture and concessions to local culture.
A lot of the hysterical Hinditva rage towards Muslim culture and the Islamicate experience is also a way to paper over these fundamental cracks in the Indian experience.
Many commentators make a point about “caste” in Pakistan but while it is salient, it has no religious or societal legitimacy. In fact the Muslim wave that continuously engulfs Pakistan is contra ethnicity and caste.
Islam has many problems and is in general a shit religion but it does glue and cohere societies very well. To their credit Muslims are the only major culture/civilisations that to a certain extent remains inoculated from Western liberal capitalism and the attendant values. Therein lies a lot of the anger with Islam in that why can’t they just be like everyone else and lap up Louis Vuitton, Gucci and accept Mammon instead of Mohammad (I apologise for not using referring him by his correct title as the Holy Pedophile this time but I prefer alliteration where I can).
As a final aside I note INDThings point is that no one *seems* to be pressuring the Kalash to convert; they seem to be doing so out of their own volition. The reason I harp on about Islam being a shit religion is that if it were a great one the Kalash would have been able to juggle both identities at once, that when they become Muslim they should also preserve the elements of their cultural practises (wine, women and song) that is somewhat antithetical to orthodox Islam and be lauded for it.