Pashto also spelled Pukhto or Pushto), also known as Afghani, is the native language of the Pashtun people of South Central Asia. Pashto is a member of the Eastern Iranian languages group, and is descended from Avestan, the oldest preserved Iranian language. Pashto is spoken in Afghanistan, Pakistan as well as by the Pashtun diaspora around the world.
Pashto belongs to the Northeastern Iranic branch of the Indo-Iranian language family, although Ethnologue lists it as Southeastern Iranian.
The number of Pashtuns or Pashto-speakers is estimated 50-60 million people world wide.
Pashto is one of the two official languages of Afghanistan (the other being Dari Persian), and a regional language in western and northwestern Pakistan.
Pashtun also spelled Pushtun, Pakhtun or Pukhtun), also known as ethnic Afghan or Pathan is an ethnic group with populations primarily in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Belonging to the Eastern Iranian peoples, the group is typically characterised by the usage of the Pashto language and practice of Pashtunwali, which is a traditional set of ethics guiding individual and communal conduct. Their origins are unclear but historians have come across references to various ancient peoples called Pakthas (Pactyans) between the 2nd and the 1st millennium BC, inhabiting the region between the Hindu Kush and Indus River, who may be the early ancestors of the Pashtun people. Since the 3rd century AD onward, they have been referred to by the ethnonym “Afghan”. Often characterised as a warrior and martial race, their history is spread amongst various countries of South, Central and Western Asia, centred around their traditional seat of power in medieval Afghanistan. During the Delhi Sultanate era, the Pashtun Lodi dynasty replaced the Turkic rulers in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent. Other Pashtuns fought the Persians and the Mughals before obtaining an independent state in the early-18th century, which began with a successful revolution by Mir Wais Hotak followed by conquests of Ahmad Shah Durrani. Pashtuns played a vital role during the Great Game from the 19th century to the 20th century as they were caught between the imperialist designs of the British and Russian empires. Pashtuns are the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan; for over 250 years, they have reigned as the dominant ethno-linguistic group, with nearly all rulers being Pashtun. The mujahideen who fought against the Soviet-backed Afghan government in the 1980s were also dominated by Pashtun fighters. They make up the majority of the Taliban and the current Afghan government. They are also an important community in Pakistan, which has the largest Pashtun population and constitute the second-largest ethnic group, having attained presidency there and high rankings in sports. The Pashtuns are the world’s largest (patriarchal) segmentary lineage ethnic group. According to Ethnologue, the total population of the group is estimated to be around 50 million but an accurate count remains elusive due to the lack of an official census in Afghanistan since 1979. Estimates of the number of Pashtun tribes and clans range from about 350 to over 400