Pashto and Dari (Afghan Persian/Farsi) are the official languages of Afghanistan. Pashto
was declared the National Language of the country during the beginning of
Zahir Shah's reign, however, Dari has always been used for business and
government transactions. Both belong to the Indo-European group of languages.
According to recent US government estimates, approximately 35 percent of the Afghan
population speaks Pashto, and about 50 percent speaks Dari. Turkic languages (Uzbek
and Turkmen) are spoken by about 11 percent of the population. There are also numerous
other languages spoken in the country (Baluchi, Pashai, Nuristani, etc.), and
bilingualism is very common.
Both Pashto and Dari are written primarily with the Arabic alphabet, however,
there are some modifications. Pashto literature saw a massive rise in development
in the 17th century, mostly due to poets like Khushal Khan Khattak, who is known
today as the national poet of Afghanistan. Other noteworthy Pashto poets in history were
Rahman Baba, and the founder of the modern Afghan nation, Ahmad Shah Abdali.
Dari also has an extensive literature, actually, some of the worlds greatest
poems have been written in Dari. Dari poems by Jalaluddin Rumi have been translated
from its original Dari versions to numerous other languages, and is widely read even
in the west. Many powerful kingdoms of the past such as those of the Moghuls in India,
primarily used Dari in their royal courts.
by Abdullah Qazi