Afghanistan dispatches: ‘The Taliban are using only Pashtu language in their official communications.’ Dispatches
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Afghanistan dispatches: ‘The Taliban are using only Pashtu language in their official communications.’
JURIST EXCLUSIVE – Law students and lawyers in Afghanistan are filing reports with JURIST on the situation there after the fall of Kabul to the Taliban. Here, a lawyer in Kabul offers his observations and perspective on the implications of the Taliban’s use of Pashtu (sometimes rendered as Pashto) as an official language instead of the more usual Dari. For privacy and security reasons we are withholding our correspondent’s name and institutional affiliation. The text has been only lightly edited to respect the author’s voice.

The Taliban are using only Pashtu language in their official communications. According to the Constitution of Afghanistan, Dari and Pashtu are the two official languages among other languages in the country. Recently the government agencies’ official communications are all done in Pashtu and most of the time they are encouraging employees to use that language. Pashtu is the language they often use and know better than Dari. Dari is too similar with Persian which is the official language of Iran. They share the same base.

In addition to the above, the government signs and logos which are being changed by the Taliban are now all in one language (Pashtu). Recently there was a change in the logo of the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce in which they removed Dari words and only added Pashtu. A friend from the central bank confirms that their official communications to commercial banks and other government agencies are all done in Pashtu.

A local media source has interviewed one of the Taliban’s members and matters related to public health, higher education, security, and other topics were discussed. In the interview, the reporter used the Dari word for university, Daneshgah. The Taliban member told him to use Pohantun instead, which is the Pashtu word for university.

The same happened with my client as well. I received some contracts – all in English – from my client to translate it Pashtu. My native language is Dari – therefore – I requested if I can translate it in Dari because I am good at it and it should be accepted by anyone in the country. However, their advice was that the translation should be in Pashtu because most of the Taliban do not know Dari.

If they take all this too seriously, many civil servant employees will have difficulties in official communications with the Government authorities. Almost everyone talks Dari, only a few speak Pashtu.