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.