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8. Pashto Language Policy and Practice in the North West Frontier Province

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Chapter Summary

Pashto, closely identified with ethnic Pashtuns, has always (co-)existed within wider linguistic spheres influenced by Persian and important South Asian languages. This chapter discusses modern choices made by state and social actors in Afghanistan, in colonial India, and in post-colonial Pakistan as governments and communities negotiated official and informal language policies about language status and use and the rights of speakers. It concentrates on a limited discussion of contemporary regional language policy-making and use, and fully acknowledges various debts of perspective and analysis to the comprehensive historical and post-colonial linguistics research of Tariq Rahman. Pashto language instruction rapidly declined in number of pupils as student cohorts rose through the educational system. Contributing to the shrinking of the student pool for Pashto instruction were common parental preferences that children in school gain Urdu and English competency rather than Pashto literary skills.

Keywords:Afghanistan; colonial India; Pakistan; Pashto language policy

10.1163/9789004217652_009
/content/books/b9789004217652_009
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