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Pashto (پښتو), also known historically as Afghani and Pathani, is the native language of the Pashtun people of South-Central Asia. It is a member of the Eastern Iranian languages group, and is descended from Avestan, the oldest preserved Iranian language.

Pashto is spoken in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as among the Pashtun diaspora around the world.

The number of Pashtuns or Pashto-speakers is estimated 40–60 million people worldwide. Pashto is one of the two official languages of Afghanistan (the other being Dari), and a regional language in western and northwestern Pakistan.

As the national language of Afghanistan, Pashto is primarily spoken in the east, south and southwest, but also in some northern and western parts of the country. The exact numbers of speakers are unavailable, but different estimates show that Pashto is the mother tongue of 35-60% of the total population of Afghanistan.

In Pakistan, Pashto is a provincial language, spoken as a first language by about 15% of Pakistan's 170 million people. It is the main language of the Pashtun-majority regions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and northern Balochistan. It is also spoken in parts of Mianwali and Attock districts of the Punjab province as well as by Pashtuns who are found living in different cities throughout the country. Modern Pashto-speaking communities are found in the cities of Karachi and Hyderabad in Sindh.

With as high as 7 million by some estimates, the city of Karachi in Pakistan has the largest concentration of urban Pashtun population in the world meaning there are more Pashtuns in Karachi than in any other city in the world. As per the current demographic ratio, Pashtuns are about 25% of Karachi's population.

Other communities of Pashto speakers are found in northeastern Iran, primarily in South Khorasan Province to the east of Qaen, near the Afghan border, and in Tajikistan. There are also communities of Pashtun descent in the southwestern part of Jammu and Kashmir.

In addition, sizable Pashto-speaking communities also exist in the Middle East, especially in the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, as well as in the United States, United Kingdom, Thailand, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Qatar, Australia, Japan, Russia, New Zealand, etc.


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