Pashto is one of the most important Iranian languages, both in terms of the number of speakers and from a philological point of view. Indeed, in terms of number of speakers, Pashto - an Indo-European language - ranks second only to Persian among Iranian languages. It is spoken on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border.

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A majority language in Afghanistan - it is the country's national language - there it shares official language status with Afghan Persian (dari). In Pakistan, it has the status of a regional language, spoken by almost 30 million people in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Baluchistan and the tribal areas. Karachi, with over four million speakers, remains the largest Pashtun metropolis.

The teaching of Pashto at Inalco was inaugurated in 1966, following cultural and technical cooperation agreements between France and Afghanistan. The initiative was taken by Gilbert Lazard, who was teaching Persian at Langues'O at the time. At the time, only a few introductory courses were offered. The following decade saw the creation of a DULCO and then a DS. The creation of a DREA (just before the year 2000), followed by a B.A. in Iranian studies (with options in Kurdish, Persian and Pashto), will complete this training.

In Europe, Inalco is the only institution to offer training in Pashto on a regular, structured basis.
In addition, Inalco has signed agreements with two Afghan universities so that students can do an "integrated curriculum" internship in the Pashto department.

The shortage of translators, interpreters, or simply specialists in Afghanistan on the Pashtun side is a proven fact. Students of Pashto are therefore systematically called upon by various organizations concerned with Afghanistan - and, to a lesser extent, Pakistan. From the ICRC to the CRR.