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Pashto is one of the two official languages of Afghanistan, along with Dari.[39] Since the early 18th century, the monarchs of Afghanistan have been ethnic Pashtuns (except for Habibullāh Kalakāni in 1929).[40] Persian, the literary language of the royal court,[41] was more widely used in government institutions while the Pashtun tribes spoke Pashto as their native tongue. King Amanullah Khan began promoting Pashto during his reign (1926-1929) as a marker of ethnic identity and as a symbol of "official nationalism"[40] leading Afghanistan to independence after the defeat of the British Empire in the Third Anglo-Afghan War in 1919. In the 1930s a movement began to take hold to promote Pashto as a language of government, administration, and art with the establishment of a Pashto Society Pashto Anjuman in 1931[42] and the inauguration of the Kabul University in 1932 as well as the formation of the Pashto Academy Pashto Tolana in 1937.[43] Although officially supporting the use of Pashto, the Afghan elite regarded Persian as a "sophisticated language and a symbol of cultured upbringing".[40] King Zahir Shah (reigned 1933-1973) thus followed suit after his father Nadir Khan had decreed in 1933 that officials were to study and utilize both Persian and Pashto.[44] In 1936 a royal decree of Zahir Shah formally granted to Pashto the status of an official language[45] with full rights to usage in all aspects of government and education - despite the fact that the ethnically Pashtun royal family and bureaucrats mostly spoke Persian.[43] Thus Pashto became a national language, a symbol for Afghan nationalism.The constitutional assembly reaffirmed the status of Pashto as an official language in 1964 when Afghan Persian was officially renamed to Dari.[46][47] The lyrics of the national anthem of Afghanistan are in Pashto.

In Pakistan, Pashto is the first language of 15% of its population (as of 1998),[48][49] mainly in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and northern districts of Balochistan province. It is also spoken in parts of Mianwali and Attock districts of the Punjab province, areas of Gilgit-Baltistan and in Islamabad, as well as by Pashtuns who live in different cities throughout the country. Modern Pashto-speaking communities are found in the cities of Karachi and Hyderabad in Sindh.

Urdu and English are the two official languages of Pakistan. Pashto has no official status at the federal level. On a provincial level, Pashto is the regional language of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and north Balochistan.[53] The primary medium of education in government schools in Pakistan is Urdu,[54] but from 2014 onwards, the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has placed more emphasis on English as the medium of instruction.[55].This has caused growing resentment amongst Pashtuns, who also complain that Pashto is often neglected officially.

  • Pashtuns

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  • Khyber Pukhtunkhwa

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