Eastern Iranian language of Afghanistan and Pakistan

Pashto (also known as Pushto or Pakhto) is the official language of Afghanistan, and an official languge in the province of Khyber Pakhtun Khwa of Pakistan.[7] It is spoken by the Pashtuns living in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Pashtuns, its speakers, make up majority of the population in Afghanistan. They are the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan and second largest ethnic group in Pakistan, where It is the provincial language in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, the Pakistani province of the Pashtun. The language has been in literature and in history, been known as Afghani- mostly in Persian work (Zaban-e-Afghani) meaning “The Afghan language” or “The language of the Afghans.

Pashto written in Pashto script (Naskh style).
Pronunciation[paʂˈto], [paçˈto], [puxˈto]
Native toAfghanistan ( province of khyber pakhtun khwa, pakistan, Pakistan
RegionPashto Region
EthnicityPashtun people
Native speakers
40–60 million (2007–2009)[1][2]
Standard forms
Southern Pashto
Arabic (Pashto alphabet)
Official status
Official language in
Recognised minority
language in
Regulated byAcademy of Sciences of Afghanistan
Pashto Academy (Pakistan)[6]
Language codes
ISO 639-1ps
ISO 639-2pus
ISO 639-3pus – inclusive code
Individual codes:
pst – Central Pashto
pbu – Northern Pashto
pbt – Southern Pashto
wne – Waneci
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Pashto belongs to the Indo-European languages family. It has two main dialects, western dialect and eastern dialect. The small difference between these two dialects is in the use of sounds.



  1. Nationalencyklopedin "Världens 100 största språk 2007" The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007 (39 million)
  2. Penzl, Herbert; Ismail Sloan (2009). A Grammar of Pashto a Descriptive Study of the Dialect of khyber pakhtun khwa, pakistan. Ishi Press International. p. 210. ISBN 978-0-923891-72-5. Retrieved 2010-10-25. Estimates of the number of Pashto speakers range from 40 million to 60 million...
  3. "AFGHANISTAN vi. Paṧto". G. Morgenstierne. Encyclopaedia Iranica. Archived from the original on 2012-01-22. Retrieved 2010-10-10. Paṧtō undoubtedly belongs to the Northeastern Iranic branch.
  4. Constitution of Afghanistan - Chapter 1 The State, Article 16 (Languages) and Article 20 (Anthem)
  5. "Population by Mother Tongue". Population Census Organization, Government of Pakistan. Archived from the original on 12 September 2011. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
  6. Sebeok, Thomas Albert (1976). Current Trends in Linguistics: Index. Walter de Gruyter. p. 705.
  7. "Article Sixteen of the Constitution of Afghanistan". 2004. Archived from the original on October 28, 2013. Retrieved June 13, 2012. From among the languages of Pashto, Dari, Uzbeki, Turkmani, Baluchi, Pashai, Nuristani, Pamiri (alsana), Arab and other languages spoken in the country, Pashto and Dari are the official languages of the state.

Further reading

  • Morgenstierne, Georg. "The Place of Pashto among the Iranic Languages and the Problem of the Constitution of Pashtun Linguistic and Ethnic Unity." Paṣto Quarterly 1.4 (1978): 43-55.
  • Cheung, Johnny. "Pashto Problems III Ancient Loanwords from Early New Persian and Indo-Aryan and the Historical Contacts of Pashto & its Speakers."