Pashto (/ˈpʌʃtoʊ/, rarely /ˈpæʃtoʊ/;[ Pashto: پښتو, Pax̌tō, [ˈpəʂt̪oː]), sometimes spelled Pukhto, is an Eastern Iranian language in the Aryan family. It is known in Persian literature as Afghāni (افغانی) and in Hindustani literature as Paṭhānī. Speakers of the language are called Pashtuns/Pakhtuns and Pathans. Dari and Pashto are the official languages of Afghanistan. Pashto is also the second-largest regional language of Pakistan, mainly spoken in the west and northwest of the country. In Pakistan, it is the main language of the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the northern districts of Balochistan. Pashto is the primary language of the Pashtun diaspora around the world. The total number of Pashto-speakers is estimated to be 45–60 million people worldwide.
Pashto belongs to the Northeastern Iranian group of the Iranian branch,but Ethnologue lists it as Southeastern Iranian. Pashto has two main dialect groups, “soft” and “hard”, the latter locally known as Pakhto or Paxto.