Afghan Hillmen are a type of skirmisher in Empire: Total War.
These fierce and independent men spend their lives fighting, making them superb irregular troops for a general they respect.
Mountains breed men who are unforgiving to their enemies, suspicious of strangers and wary around their friends. Life is hard in the mountains, and it is easier to take something than build, grow or make it. Banditry, feuds, revenge and murder are a way of life for many, and the survivors of this harsh school of life must be tough and uncompromising in their hating. All this means that they superb in war: deadly shots and dirty fighters. Any governor who tries to impose order rapidly finds that hill folk may fight each other, but they will always unite against the outsider.
Historically, many outside powers have tried to tame the wilder elements in Kurdish and Afghan society but with mixed results. Alexander the Great gave up, even after marrying a Bactrian woman, Roxana. In 1842, for example, a 15,000-strong British column decided to withdraw from Afghanistan back to India. Only one man actually made it back to “civilization” alive.
As irregular skirmishers, Afghan Hillmen aren't bad, but may have trouble standing up to proper light troops such as Light Infantry.
For the Ottoman Empire, Afghan Hillmen can be useful emergency supplements to an army finding itself without light support. For the Maratha Confederacy, Afghan Hillmen are far more important, as they represent the closest thing the Marathas have to skirmishers.