Pashto (پښتو Pax̌tō IPA: [ˈpəʂt̪oː, ˈpəçt̪oː, ˈpʊxt̪oː]; alternatively spelled Paxto, Pukhto, Pakhto, or Pushto), also known in older literature as Afghānī (افغاني) or Paṭhānī, is an Eastern Iranian language, belonging to the Indo-European family. Pashto is the native language of the Pashtun people of South-Central Asia, and one of the two official languages of Afghanistan. It is also the second-largest regional language of Pakistan, mainly spoken in the west and northwest of the country, and the main language among the Pashtun diaspora around the world. The total number of Pashto-speakers is estimated to be 45–60 million people worldwide. Geographical distribution As a 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 45–60% of the total population of Afghanistan. Official status Pashto is one of the two official languages of Afghanistan, along with Dari (Persian). Since the early 18th century, all the kings of Afghanistan were ethnic Pashtuns except for Habibullah Kalakani. Persian as the literary language of the royal court was more widely used in government institutions while Pashto was spoken by the Pashtun tribes as their native tongue. Amanullah Khan began promoting Pashto during his reign as a marker of ethnic identity and a symbol of "official nationalism" leading Afghanistan to independence after the defeat of the British colonial power in the Third Anglo-Afghan War. In the 1930s, a movement began to take hold to promote Pashto as a language of government, administration and art with the establishment of a Pashto Society Pashto Anjuman in 1931 and the inauguration of the Kabul University in 1932 as well as the formation of the Pashto Academy Pashto Tolana in 1937. History According to 19th-century linguist James Darmesteter and modern linguist Michael M. T. Henderson, Pashto is “descended from Avestan” but Georg Morgenstierne says they are merely closely related. The Rabatak inscription of Emperor Kanishka written in Bactrian and Greek contains Pashto words, Abdul Hai Habibi says that the people borrowed these Pashto words due to proximity with Pashto speakers.