Information & Facts
In Pakistan, third party introductions are vital to doing
business successfully. Building up good working relations and a
level of trust is essential and plenty of time will be spent
socialising and getting to know each other. Face to face dealings
are imperative and meetings are usually conducted somewhat
formally. Communication may be somewhat frustrating as Pakistanis
can approach things in a round about manner, although English is
widely spoken and understood. Bureaucracy can also hold up any
deals. Punctuality is important, although meetings might not begin
on time. Business cards are usually exchanged on greetings.
Greetings should be between same sexes only. Business attire is
usually formal, and women in particular should dress
conservatively. Business hours are usually 9am to 5pm Monday to
Thursday and Saturdays. Some businesses are open until 12.30pm on
Pakistan's climate is varied because of the difference in
elevation from one end of the country to another. During the summer
months from April to September the mountainous north is pleasant
and temperate, but the Indus Valley swelters in temperatures of
100ºF (40ºC) or more. In late summer the southern region
experiences monsoons, particularly along the coast. In winter the
low-lying areas cool down appreciably to average temperatures of
between 50ºF and 70ºF (10ºC to 25ºC), while the northern mountains
ice up with the air well below freezing.
The international dialling code for Pakistan is +92. The
outgoing international code is 00, followed by the relevant country
code (e.g.0027 for South Africa). City/area codes are in use, e.g.
(0)51 for Islamabad, (0)21 for Karachi. There are several GSM 900
and 1800 mobile networks in operation, providing fair coverage,
concentrated in urban areas. Internet cafes also exist in the main
towns and cities.
Pakistan is a strict Muslim state and religious customs should
be respected, particularly during the month of Ramadan when eating,
drinking and smoking during daylight hours should be discreet as it
is forbidden by the Muslim culture. Homosexuality is illegal. It is
considered offensive to give, receive or eat with the left hand.
Affection between opposite sexes is not shown in public. Women, in
particular, are expected to dress and behave decorously in public;
even in the large cities shoulders and legs should be covered, and
men should not wear shorts. Westerners should expect to be stared
at - this is not considered rude in Pakistan, and is purely because
you are new and different. Do not take photographs at military
establishments, airports or any infrastructure.
Passengers arriving in Pakistan over 18 years do not have to pay
duty on either 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 500g tobacco, as well
as 250ml eau de toilette and perfume, provided that not more than
125ml of that is perfume, and gifts and/or souvenirs up to the
value of Rs.2,000. Non-residents do not have to pay duty on 200
cigarettes, 50 cigars or 227g tobacco, 250ml perfumed spirits and
eau de toilette, gifts and souvenirs to the value of Rs.2,000. The
import of alcohol is strictly prohibited for both residents and
non-residents, regardless of nationality. Other prohibited items
include matches, fruits, plants and plant material.
Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. Round two- or
three-pin plugs are used.
A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for entry to
Pakistan by travellers coming from an infected area. Malaria exists
in areas below 6,562 feet (2,000m) year round, and travellers
should seek medical advice before travelling. Dengue fever is
another reason to protect against mosquito bites. Vaccinations for
typhoid, Japanese encephalitis (long-term travellers to rural
areas) and polio are also recommended. Bird flu has been confirmed
on poultry farms and found in wild birds, and thousands of birds
have been culled; human deaths have also been reported. The risk to
travellers is low, but as a precaution close contact with live
birds should be avoided and all poultry and egg dishes well cooked.
There is a risk of diarrhoeal diseases; visitors should only drink
bottled or otherwise sterilised water, and avoid dairy products,
uncooked meat, salads and unpeeled fruit. There is a low risk of
cholera and Hepatitis E. Outside the major cities there are few
hospitals of a high standard. Medical insurance is strongly
Urdu is the official language, but English is widely
spoken and understood. There are also several regional languages
and local dialects.
The Pakistani Rupee (PKR) is divided into 100 paise. Travellers
cheques (best carried in US Dollars or Pounds Sterling) are
accepted at most banks, four and five star hotels and major shops.
Larger shops and hotels accept credit cards, mostly American
Express. Bank hours are from 9am to 1.30pm Monday to Saturday, but
close at 12.30 pm on Fridays. Bargaining is expected in street
markets and small stores.
All foreign passport holders require a visa issued in their
country of origin (or the nearest consulate if there is no
diplomatic representation) to enter Pakistan. A return ticket and
all documents needed for next destination are required. All
visitors are advised to carry a photocopy of their passport,
including the Pakistani visa, at all times. If stay exceeds 30
days, passenger must register within 30 days at the Immigration
Head Office. It is highly recommended that passports have at least
six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure
from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply
different rules to those stated by travel agents and official
Warnings have been issued against non-essential travel to
Pakistan in light of the threat of terrorist activity. There is a
serious threat of terrorism in Pakistan, particularly in major
cities where suicide bombings, kidnappings and murders have taken
place, often injuring or killing innocent bystanders. Foreigners of
Western origin are particularly likely to be targets for
terrorists, including kidnapping. Since 2007 there has been an
increase in attacks and suicide bombings targeting foreign hangouts
as well as the authorities. Crime is also high, as are incidents of
sectarian attacks and tribal killings. It is also recommended that
visitors avoid places of worship during busy prayer times and
festivals. Particular care should be taken if visiting Karachi, as
well as Peshawar, due to recent bombings. Visitors of visibly
Western origin are advised to avoid hanging around public places
and to be particularly vigilant in areas frequented by foreigners.
The departure of Musharraf from Pakistan's presidency has led to
further political upheavals, with parties fighting over the
leadership of the country. Travellers should keep up to date with
the latest travel advisories regarding Pakistan before and during a
visit. Currently holiday visits are not advised, and only necessary
business travel or visits to family should be contemplated. Kashmir
in the north is regarded as particularly dangerous with a high
incidence of lawlessness and militant activity. It is recommended
that all travel to Waziristan, as well as to northern and western
Baluchistan, be avoided, and all but essential travel to the Sui
area, the Swat Valley in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP),
the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas and Agencies (FATA), and to
the border areas except for official crossing points, be
undertaken. Travel by bus and train in Baluchistan should also be
avoided due to repeated bomb plants. Visitors should also avoid the
centre of Gilgit, as sectarian tension is high at present; access
to Gilgit should be by air only. It is recommended that road travel
along the Karakoram Highway to and from Islamabad should be
undertaken only during daylight hours.
Local time is GMT +5.
The larger hotels and restaurants add a service charge of 10% to
their bills otherwise tipping is not obligatory in Pakistan.
Baksheesh, however, helps get things done more quickly.