Pashto and Pashtuns


in the light of linguistic perspective


Pashto is the language of Pashtuns. Pashtuns ((Afghans)) are the biggest majorityethno-linguistic tribe and the most long living residents of Afghanistan. The name of the country is links with the name of largest majority (pashtuns). From the point of view of history-geography Pashtuns belong to northeastern areas (Pamir, Balkh…). The grandfathers of Pashtuns were named as Sakas, Kasyan and Sakan and the Pashto itself was the grandson of Saki language. Other current Saki languages belong to Saka origin like: Osety (Caucasia) and 12 or 13 other Pamiri languages are considered close sisters. Sakas are considered the fifth Aryanian origin along with, Awesta-speeking Zartostrians, Partians, Madians and Parsians, which created big empires many centuries before Chirst in the Middle East,Caucasia , to northern west, India and Kashmir, and defended its main residential territory (Bacteria or Balkh and the area around Axos river) from Greek invaders led by Great Alexander and later established its first ((Greeco- Bacter)) government. 


From today 1965 years back some Sakas moved from north to south and named Halmand down area (Zarangia>Zaranj) with their name Sakistan, which later changed as Sistan. In second century AD when the empire of Sakistan collapsed, in the north the Saki origin Koshanians set the foundation of another empire, which controlled the north, west and south as well as the northwest of India and Kashmir.


Pashtun Sakas established since then big and small feudal governments in Ghor and Herat, the valleys of Helmand and Arghandab to “Ghawara Margha”-غوړه مرغه  - (Arakoziyay, current Arghistan) and to the skirt of Kasay(Solaiman) Mountains and were later spread to Sindh, India and Kashmir. This way Pashto was affected by Indian Aryan languages and collected a lot to its skirt.


The name of Afghan(Apaga) is for first time found(252-6 B.C.) in Aechamenian aera, later (Apakan)  as nickname of Sasanian king Shahpuhr the First(309-378); in the past Indian books in sixth century has been  published it as (Avagana)by Indian astrologer, Aramihra,in the Chinese sources(O-po-kien).The (Avaganas) are the todays' Pashtuns which make the largest majority of Afghanistan.

 We quit discussing the tales of the history and discuss the current situation, Pashtuns suffer the histric tortures, even though Pashtuns traditional Jirga and meetings are good examples of democracy, but the nation could not experience the democracy with its real meaning.


To bring democracy and establish civil society in the war-battered country it was necessary that Pashtuns should have been educated. But during the history Pashtuns have been used as a force of war and the authorities used them to defend against the invaders and that is it. This traditional tribe does not know anything about globalization or the real meaning of democracy.

Pashtuns have been pushed to war in the history because some foreign movements or in other words foreign countries’ cultural and political interference were considered as attack on the soil and the values.

Currently their language fights with a cultural invasion and there is no policy within Afghan government to protect Pashto from such bad condition. The Pashto language has almost been separated from official activities intentionally and Pashtuns think that internal and foreigners have launched conspiracies against their language and values.

Many Pashtun intellectuals and writers say if the society does not begin a peaceful cultural fight to protect its language and does not protect it from negative affects of neighboring Persian language? And does not give hand together against the rivals. It is possible that Pashto will be separated completely from the political ground of the country.

In a society where there are not educated people enough, they will be deprived of technology. Pashtuns are so behind from the international movement due to involvement in the wars that it needs successive and a lot of efforts to integrate them.

War in their environment and civil war among Pashtuns have made it difficult for Pashtuns to agree with one thought in coordination to tackle hurdles against them.

Looking to the current military and political situation Pashtuns pay the biggest scarifications in fight against terrorism in Afghanistan.

Taliban are fighting in Pashtun areas and international alliance and its Afghan  collaborators,socalled ((Northern  minorities alliance)) also search their enemies in Pashtun areas. This condition has given hope to those minorities who attempt to defame Pashtuns and would replace Pashtuns in political ground and work for neighboring countries interests.

Those who do not accept Pashto-Pashtuns and Afghans- Afghanistan, enjoy the current situation between Pashtuns.

They accept the articles of the constitution which have been set in the constitution with instruction of Iran to protect their separatism and sectionalistic interests.

For last 70 to 80 years newly created terminologies used by Iranian have also been used by these minorities.

Since king Amir Shir Ali Khan(1868-79) up to present all military and administrative terminologies were in Pashto among 47 Afghan linguistic groups and this should not be contradicted. But they ignore this and say why it should not be in both languages. Even when some others do not have any other reasons they say that there has been no limit for these terminologies.

When Persian speeking Afghans write a texts and needs to write Afghan terminology then they do not write it the way it is written in Pashto, as instead of Pashto (څ=ts) they would write Arabic (س) or instead of Pashto (ښ=ş) they would write Arabic( ش) and such others.

Even though such issues look ordinary to many people, but such activities in the government have made many Pashtuns upset and have distanced from government officials.

(Dari) is an dialect of Persian, as Tajiki Persian, and was forcefully added to Afghan constitution in 1964 as ((Dari)) language. They say if the language is given its original Persian linguistic name, then its origin should be also accepted that language is among the southwestern Aryanian languages not northeast Bakhtari group.


Muhiuddin Mehdi, history author, in 1957 the (Surkh Kotal) and in 1993 (Rubatak) discovered historic information from inscriptions and about 200 to 300 other scattered discove- ries has picked up information from Prof. Hinning to the current alive Sims Williams(SOAS, Lodon)as a famous Aryasnist(Iranist) and has selected the position of Pashto and Pamiri (as of Yadghi and Monji) and also Soghdi, Bactri, Parti and Khawarezmi.

This best historic-geographic position and long and prosper activities and literature of Pashto has attracted the attention of many Aryanists since18th century and have undertaken interesting academic researches.

After French expert J.Darmesteter and German W.Geigar Pashto experts, Professor George Morgenstierne devoted 60 years of his life on new linguistic knowledge on Pashto and related languages.He was always saying that the“Landay “ (special type of Pashto popular poems)  and” K.K.Khatak” (1613-1689), the great Pasho poet, were enough for me to get special interest and involvement with all Aryan and then Aryanian languages, in particular Pashto. As Pashtuns have spent over 2500 years in defence and invasive wars due to its geographical location, they could not find time to nourish Pashto, and in new Aryanian aera, or on the other words, in the beginning of Islam, Pashtuns were in need or were pushed to use and utilize the south-western Persian as ((second Islamic language)).

This requirement and motivation forced a famous king Sekander Ludi to use and send Persian language letters to India instead of his native language Pashto and then pave way to Sury-Pashtun and Turk- Mongul rulers to use Persian and at the end from Kabul to Dakan (Indian city) Persian became the language of majesty courts and offices.

(Hotaks) with the support of fourth king Shah Hussian(1729-38) started to accommodate Pashto language, but storm came on them from west of the country.

Ahmad Shah Baba also designed a map to support Pashto, but his successor ignored it, particularly when King Teemor Shah chose Kabul as the capital with the consultation of Turk-Mongul colonizers, with which all hopes and efforts were thrown to Kabul River.

Because of this big cause, since then the culturist and developed minded Amir Shir Ali Khan attempts up and up to present the semi formal attempts could not help stand Pashto as equal rival to Persian.

Very unfortunately at present the other ethnic groups and anti national unity filthy alliance has confronted Afghans and Afghanistan including Pashtuns national and formal roots with questions and challenges. And much rudely with provocation and support of Iranian leaders implement the tripartite Persian states concept which has been initiated by Raza Shah pehlavi in 1936. you can read more about this in coming chapters.

Afghanistan ministry of information and culture expressed concern over the use of Iranian terminology in media.

Karim Khuram, the  former minister for information and culture went a step ahead and made efforts to push media use national terminologies. But no one heard his voices and instead Iranian spreading cultural sources criticised him following the comment. Afghan linguistic experts say if the international community wants the happiness of Pashtuns, in addition to many construction efforts, they should pave way for the establishment of Pashto research centers and development of the language.

This will give new good news for Pashtuns about the international community support and all will say that truly internationals have come to Afghanistan for betterment of Afghans.