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From Halal Food & Travel

Islamabad at night The Islamic Republic of Pakistan (Urdu: پاکستان) is in South Asia and is the world's 34th largest country by size. With a population exceeding 180 million people, it is the sixth most populous country in the world. Pakistan is strategically located astride the ancient trade routes of the Khyber and Bolan passes between South Asia and Central Asia. Another pass, which now has the Karakoram Highway through it, leads to Western China. All these passes, and some ports in Pakistan, formed part of the ancient Silk Road which linked Asia and Europe.

Pakistan's tourism industry was in its heyday during the 1970s when the country received unprecedented numbers of foreign tourists, thanks to the Hippie Trail. Subsequently the number of foreign tourists has come down, due to instability in the country and many countries declaring it as unsafe and dangerous to visit. Even so, it continues to attract tourists due to its unique, diverse cultures, people and landscapes. The country's attractions range from the ruin of civilisations, such as Mohenjo-daro, Harappa and Taxila, to the Himalayan hill stations, which attract those interested in winter sports. Pakistan is home to several mountain peaks over 7,000 m, which attract adventurers and mountaineers from around the world, especially K2.

An Introduction to the regions of Pakistan

Pakistan is a federation of four provinces: Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. The government of Pakistan exercises de facto jurisdiction over the western parts of the disputed Kashmir region, organised into the separate political entities Azad Kashmir and Gilgit–Baltistan (formerly Northern Areas).

Map of Pakistan
Home to some of the world's tallest mountains, it's brimming with dramatically fantastic landscapes and can easily compete with Nepal for trekking opportunities.
  Northwest Pakistan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas)
Home of the rugged Pashtuns, for some it's forbidding and mysterious... yet below the surface are some of the most hospitable people in the country. Northern Pakhtunkhwa (including Dir, Swat, Asgharabad, etc) is considered the most beautiful part of Pakistan.
  Azad Kashmir
Pakistan-administered portion of the disputed Kashmir region is sometimes referred to as "Heaven on Earth" because of its scenic beauty.
The most populous and agriculturally fertile region in the country, and home to many historical shrines and mosques.
Most visitors head for Karachi or the ancient ruins of Mohenjo-daro but the region offers a lot more to see.
The largest and most remote province, its lack of infrastructure can make for rough travelling. Most foreign visitors here are just passing through from Iran, stopping briefly in Quetta. The second largest forest of juniper trees in the world lies in the mountainous Ziarat about 80 km from Quetta. Beautiful natural beaches of Gawadar, Pasni and Lasbela are also popular tourist attractions. The Ziarat and Pishin regions are famous for their delicious fruit.

Reference ##B383B3 Gilgit-Baltistan Reference ##69999F Northwest Pakistan - ,Q208270

Reference ##B5D29F Azad Kashmir Reference ##71B37B Punjab Reference ##4F93C0 Sindh Reference ##D56D76 Balochistan


Other Muslim friendly Cities in Pakistan

Nine of Pakistan's most notable cities follow. Other cities are listed in the article for their region.

  • Islamabad – the federal capital, a relatively new planned city with a much more "laid back" feel than the other cities
  • Faisalabad – a major city in Punjab, famous for its textile industry
  • Karachi – the financial capital and the largest city of the country, it's an industrial port city and the provincial capital of Sindh
  • Lahore – city of the Mughals, it's a bustling and very historical city in the Punjab that shouldn't be missed
  • Multan – the City of Saints, famous for blue pottery, ornamental glasswork, and Khussa – a type of shoes
  • Muzaffarabad – capital of Azad Kashmir and a very picturesque city
  • Peshawar – capital city of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, it has a bit of an outlaw edge to it, and is the gateway to the Khyber Pass
  • Quetta – a large, beautiful and slightly unruly city in the southern state of Balochistan, you'll pass through here en route to or from Iran
  • Sialkot – the city of sports goods, famous for its exports industry, and one of the oldest cities in the region

Other Muslim Friendly Destinations in Pakistan


  • Karakoram Highway – part of the historic Silk Road and the main artery running north to China
  • Murree – a popular Himalayan hill station one hours drive from Islamabad
  • Khewra Salt Mine – the second largest salt mine of the world. Nearly two hours drive from Islamabad towards south via the motorway
  • Mohenjo-daro – archaeological site from the Indus Valley Civilisation, about 2000 BCE
  • Taxila – archaeological site for the Gandharan period (1st millennium BCE and 1st CE)
  • Changa Manga - is a planted forest locating in 12,423 acres.

See also Sacred sites of the Indian sub-continent and the UNESCO World Heritage listings for Pakistan.

Pakistan Halal Explorer


History of Pakistan

See also: Mughal Empire, British Raj

The history of Pakistan can be traced back to the earliest ancient human civilisations in South Asia. The earliest evidence of farming in South Asia is from 7,000 BCE in Mehrgarh. Mehrgarh in present-day Balochistan was a small farming village and centre of agriculture in South Asia during New Stone Age period which lasted until its abandonment around 2600 BCE due to climate change and was succeeded by Indus Valley Civilization, a civilization in the early stages of development growing along one of the major rivers of Asia, the Indus. By 3300 BCE, the IVC extended throughout much of what is modern-day Pakistan. It became one of the great civilisations of the ancient world along with Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. This Bronze Age civilisation with its remarkably sophisticated civil engineering and urban planning become most advanced civilisation of its time which had well-planned towns and well-laid roads, as recorded in its major city of Mohenjo-daro which today is an archaeological site of immense historical significance. The Indus Valley Civilization declined and disintegrated around 1900 BCE, possibly due to drought and geological disturbances. Most historians believe that the Vedic people were migrants who encountered this civilization in decline and perhaps hastened that decline. The Vedic people eventually occupied most of North India, laid the foundations of Hinduism and flourished in the ancient city of what is today known as Taxila. After the defeat of the first Persian Empire, Achaemenid, which ruled much of modern Pakistan, Alexander the Great, the Hellenistic King of Macedon, invaded the region of Pakistan and conquered much of the Punjab region for his Macedonian empire. Shalimar Gardens, a Mughal garden in Lahore Prior to the late 18th century, Pakistan was the main Islamic stronghold in the Mughal Empire, which at its peak covered the great majority of the Indian subcontinent. The area that now makes up Pakistan kept its status as one of the main cultural and political hubs of South Asia for over 300 years. From the late 18th century until 1947, Pakistan was part of the British Empire, and one can still see the signs of Pakistan's colonial past in most places.

The name Pakistan was used officially after the partition of (British) India into the two nation-states of India and Pakistan in 1947. However, the word Pakistan was first used by Choudhry Rahmat Ali back in 1933 in his declaration, Now or Never – calling for its separation from the Empire. Afterwards, British-ruled India was divided into the Islamic Republic of Pakistan (with two sections, West and East) and India. Later, East Pakistan seceded and became the separate nation of Bangladesh, as a result of an extremely brutal war which also involved India. A dispute over Kashmir is still ongoing between India and Pakistan and has resulted in three wars and many skirmishes, acts of terrorism and an insurgency and counter-insurgency in the part of Kashmir controlled by India and claimed by Pakistan.

Right after its independence Pakistan was a peaceful, tolerant, progressive and prosperous country and a magnet for international travelers. By the late 1960s Pakistan's tourism industry was flourishing and the country became a hotspot for many young Western travelers and the hippie types. In the absence of political and ethnic violence and terrorism Pakistan showed the image of a cosmopolitan, orderly country but by the 1980s the reputation of Pakistan had changed drastically, and today it is a very different place from what it used to be.

Today Pakistan is populated mostly by people whose ancestors originated from various other places — including Arabs from after the Islamic expeditions, Persians from Bukhara and Samarkand, Turks from Central Asia — and the native Sindhus whose ancestors converted to Islam. Ethnic groups such as Punjabis, Sindhis, Seraikis, Pashtuns, Mohajirs and Balochs all have different native languages, cultures and histories.

What is the Geography of Pakistan

Pakistani cuisine is a refined blend of various regional cooking traditions of South Asia. Pakistani cuisine is known for its richness, having aromatic and sometimes spicy flavors, and some dishes often contain liberal amounts of oil which contributes to a richer, fuller mouthfeel and flavour. It is very similar to Indian cuisine but a lot meatier and has some Afghan, Central Asian and Persian influences, there is a good chance that you'd have tasted it in your country as Indian food and Pakistan food often served together in a restaurant. Cuisine in Pakistan varies greatly from region to region. The "Pakistani food" served by many so-called Pakistani or Indian restaurants in the Western hemisphere is inspired by specifically Mughlai cuisine, a style developed by the royal kitchens of the historical Mughal Empire, and the regional cuisine of the Punjab, although degree of authenticity in relation to actual Mughlai or Punjabi cooking is sometimes variable at best and dubious at worst. Within Pakistan, cuisine varies greatly from region to region, reflecting the country's ethnic and cultural diversity. Food from the eastern provinces of Punjab and Sindh and Mughlai cuisine are similar to the cuisines of Northern India and can be highly seasoned and spicy with vegetarian options, which is characteristic of the flavours of the South Asian region. Food in other parts of Pakistan, particularly Balochistan, Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, involves the use of mild aromatic spices with more meat and less oil, similar to the cuisines of neighbouring Afghanistan, Iran, and Central Asia. Due to Muslim beliefs, Beef is a banned item in Pakistan and is neither consumed nor sold.

Pakistani main course foods which mostly consist of curry dishes are eaten with either flatbread — also called wheat bread — or rice. Salad is generally taken as a side dish with the main course, rather than as an appetizer beforehand. Assorted fresh fruit or sometimes desserts are consumed at the end of a meal. Meat plays a much more dominant role in Pakistani food compared to other South Asian cuisines. According to a 2003 report, an average Pakistani consumed three times more meat than an average Indian. Of all the meats, the most popular are goat or mutton, beef and chicken, particularly for Halal kebab dishes or the classic beef shank dish nihari. Seafood is generally not consumed in large amounts. Food tends range from mild to spicy depending on where you are and who your cook is. So state your preference before beginning to eat. In general, most of the food that you find in the high end hotels is also available in the markets (but European-style food is generally reserved for the former).

Pakistani food has a well-deserved reputation for being hot, owing to the Pakistani penchant for the liberal use of a variety of spices, and potent fresh green chilis or red chili powder that will bring tears to the eyes of the uninitiated. The degree of spiciness varies widely throughout the country: Punjab food is famously fiery, while Northern Areas cuisine is quite mild in taste.

To enjoy the local food, start slowly. Don't try everything at once. After a few weeks, you can get accustomed to spicy food. If you would like to order your dish not spicy, simply say so. Most visitors are tempted to try at least some of the spicy concoctions, and most discover that the sting is worth the trouble.


Cuisine in Pakistan varies greatly from region to region. Culinary art in Pakistan comprises a mix of Middle Eastern, Iranian, Afghan, Indian, and Turkish influences that reflect the country's history as well as the variation of cooking practices from across the country. Urban centres of the country offer an amalgamation of recipes from all parts of the country, while food with specific local ingredients and tastes is available in rural areas and villages. Besides the main dishes of salan, with or without meat and cooked with vegetables or lentils, there are a number of provincial specialties such as karahi, biryani, and tikka, in various forms and flavours, eaten alongside a variety of breads such as naan, chapati, and roti.

Pakistani cuisine is a blend of cooking traditions from different regions of the Indian subcontinent, originating from the royal kitchens of sixteenth-century Mughal emperors. It has similarities to North Indian cuisine, although Pakistan has a greater variety of meat dishes. Pakistani cooking uses large quantities of spices, herbs and seasoning. Garlic, ginger, turmeric, red chilli and garam masala are used in most dishes, and home cooking regularly includes curry. Chapati, a thin flat bread made from wheat, is a staple food, served with curry, meat, vegetables and lentils. Rice is also common; it is served plain or fried with spices and is also used in sweet dishes.

Varieties of bread

Pakistan is wheat growing land, so you have Pakistani breads (known as roti), including chapatti (unleavened bread), paratha (pan-fried layered roti), naan (cooked in a clay tandoori oven), puri (deep-fried and puffed up bread), and many more. A typical meal consists of one or more gravy dishes along with rotis, to be eaten by breaking off a piece of roti, dipping it in the gravy and eating them together. Most of the Pakistani heartland survives on naan, roti, rice, and lentils (dal), which are prepared in several different ways and made spicy to taste. Served on the side, you will usually find spiced yogurt (raita) and either fresh chutney or a tiny piece of exceedingly pungent pickle (achar), a very acquired taste for most visitors — try mixing it with curry, not eating it plain.

Pakistanis eat breads made of wheat flour as a staple part of their daily diet. Pakistan has a wide variety of breads, often prepared in a traditional clay oven called a tandoor. The tandoori style of cooking is common throughout rural and urban Pakistan and has strong roots in neighboring Iran and Afghanistan as well. Peshwari naan freshly prepared in a tandoor in Karachi

The types of flatbread (collectively referred to as Naan) are:

  • Naan - A soft and thick flat bread that often requires special clay ovens (tandoor) and cannot be properly made on home stoves. Typically leavened with yeast and mainly made with white flour. Some varieties like the Roghani and Peshwari may also be sprinkled with sesame seeds. Naans are seldom, if ever, made at home since they require tandoor based cooking and require prep work. Numerous varieties of plain as well as stuffed naans are available throughout Pakistan and each region or city can have their own specialty. Naan is a versatile bread and is eaten with almost anything. For instance, 'saada naan' or 'plain naan' are often served with Sri-Paya (Cow's head and totters) or Nihari (slow cooked beef stew) for breakfast in many parts of the country. It is recognized by its larger, white exterior.
  • Roti - These are extremely popular all over Pakistan. Tandoori rotis are baked in a clay oven called tandoor and are consumed with just about anything. In rural Pakistan, many houses have their own tandoors while the ones without use a communal one. In urban Pakistan, bread shops or "nanbai"/"tandoor" shops are fairly common and supply fresh, tandoor baked breads to household customers as well. A homemade bread that doesn't have as much flavor as naan. It is a affordable alternative that is ready in minutes.
  • Chapatti - A homemade bread, much thinner then naan and usually made out of unrefined flour, and which is ready in minutes. Most common bread made in urban homes where a tandoor is not available. Chapatis are cooked over a flat or slightly convex dark colored pan known as 'tava'. Chapatis are made of whole wheat flour and are thin and unleavened. Tortillas are probably the most common analogous to chapatis, though chapatis are slightly thick. A variant, known as 'romali roti' (l handkerchief bread) is very thin and very large in size.
  • Paratha - An extremely oily version of the roti. Usually excellent if you're going out to eat, but beware of health concerns; often it is literally dripping with oil because it is meant to be part of a rich meal. Paratha is more declicious if you cook it in pure oil like "desi ghee". A flat, layered bread made with ghee and generally cooked on a 'tava'. However, a 'tandoor' based version is also common in rural areas. Parathas are very similar to pastry dough. Parathas most likely originated in the Punjab where a heavy breakfast of parathas with freshly churned butter and buttermilk was commonly used by the farmers to prepare themselves for the hard day of work ahead. However, parathas are now a common breakfast element across the country. Along with the plain layered version, many stuffed versions such as 'Aloo ka Paratha' (Potato Stuffed Parathas), 'Mooli ka Paratha' (Radish stuffed parathas) and 'Qeemah stuffed paratha' (Ground meat stuffed paratha) are popular.
  • Sheer Mal - This is a slightly sweetened, lightly oiled bread that has waffle-like squares punched in it. It is often considered the most desirable bread and is a delicacy to most people. Often paired with nihari. Another breakfast version of sheermal is very much like the Italian Panettone (albeit in a flat naan-like shape) with added dried fruits and candy. It is a festive bread prepared with milk ('sheer') and butter with added candied fruits. Sheermal is often a vital part of food served in marriages, along with taftan. It is often sweetened and is particularly enjoyed by the kids.
  • Taftan - Much like the 'sheer mal' but with a puffed-up ring around it. This is a leavened flour bread with saffron and small amount of cardamom powder baked in a tandoor. The Taftan made in Pakistan is slightly sweeter and richer than the one made in neighboring Iran.
  • Kulcha - This is a type of naan usually eaten with chickpeas and potatoes and mostly popular in urban centres of Punjab.
  • Roghani Naan - (lit. Buttered Naan) It is a preferred variety of Naan sprinkled with white sesame seeds and cooked with a small amount of oil.
  • Puri - This is a breakfast bread made of white flour and fried. Typically eaten with sweet semolina halwa and/or gravy (made out of chickpeas and potatoes). Puri is a fairly urban concept in Pakistan and puris are not part of rural cuisine anywhere in Pakistan. However, Halwa Puri has now become a favored weekend or holiday breakfast in urban Pakistan where it is sometimes sold in shift carts or in specialty breakfast shops.

As you might have noticed, 'Naan' is usually used to pick up liquid and soft foods like shorba in curries and beans. Forks and knives not commonly used during meals in Pakistan (unless someone is eating rice or is dining out).Attempting to cut a naan with a knife may elicit some amusement around you. Watching others may help.

There are too many shorbas, or sauces/soups, to enumerate.

Vegetarian dishes

Popular and commons veg dishes are:

  • Daal - Yellow (made of yellow/red lentils) or brown (slightly sour) lentil "soup". Usually not very spiced. Common to all economic classes.
  • X + ki sabzi - A vegetarian mixture with 'X' as the main ingredient.

Other dishes include Aloo gobi, Baingan, Karela, Bhindi and Saag

Pulses/lentil dishes

Various kinds of pulses, or legumes, make up an important part of the Pakistani dishes. While lentils (called daal), and chick peas (called channa) are popular ingredients in homestyle cooking, they are traditionally considered to be an inexpensive food sources. Because of this reason, they are typically not served to guests who are invited for dinner or during special occasions. Combining meat with lentils and pulses, whether in simple preparations or in elaborate dishes such as haleem, is also a distinctively Pakistani touch not commonly seen in neighbouring India where a substantial number of its population are vegetarians.

  • Haleem - Thick stew-like mix of tiny chunks of meat or chicken, lentils and wheat grains.

Rice dishes

Sindhi Biryani: the most popular dish in Karachi Pakistan is a major consumer of rice. Basmati is the most popular type of rice consumed in Pakistan. Rice dishes are very popular throughout Pakistan. The rice dishes are sometimes eaten mixed with other dishes. The most simple dish of Pakistani cuisine is Plain cooked rice (Chawal) eaten with Dal (Lentil). Khichdi is Plain cooked rice cooked with Dal. The Karhi chawal is Plain cooked rice eaten with Karhi.

Biryani is a very popular dish in Pakistan, is cooked with pieces of beef, lamb, chicken, fish or shrimp. and has many varieties such as Lahori and Sindhi biryani. Tahiri, which is also a form of vegetarian biryani, is also popular. All of the main dishes (except those made with rice) are eaten alongside bread. To eat, a small fragment of bread is torn off with the right hand and used to scoop and hold small portions of the main dish. Pickles made out of mangoes, carrots, lemon, etc. are also commonly used to further spice up the food. Biryani smells more nice from the saffron and other seasonings added. In the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, feasts using mountains of spiced rice combined with pieces of slowly roasted lamb are often served for guests of honour. These kind of pulaos often contain dried fruit, nuts, and whole spices such as cloves, saffron and cardamom. Such rice dishes have their origins in Central Asia and the Middle East.

Dishes made with rice include many varieties of pulao:

  • Murgh pulao - Chicken and stock added. Creates a brown rice.
  • Yakhni pulao - Meat and stock added. Creates a brown rice.
  • Matar pulao - Pulao made with peas.
  • Maash pulao - A sweet and sour pulao baked with mung beans, Apricots and bulghur (a kind of roughly milled cracked wheat). Exclusively vegetarian.
  • Khichdi
  • Zarda

Meat dishes

[[File:Pakistani Food Beef Kabobs.jpg|600px|Seekh Kababs ]] Meat plays a much more dominant role in Pakistani cuisine compared to the other South Asian cuisines and is a major ingredient in most of the Pakistani dishes. The meat dishes in Pakistan include: bovine, ovine, poultry and seafood dishes. The meat is usually cut in 3 cm cubes and cooked as stew. The minced meat is used for Kebabs, Qeema and other meat dishes. Of all the meats, the most popular are goat or mutton, beef and chicken and is particularly sought after as the meat of choice for Halal kebab dishes or the classic beef shank dish nihari. The meat dishes are also cooked with pulses, legumes and rice.

Tandoori chicken, prepared in a clay oven called a tandoor, is probably the best-known Pakistani dish originated in Pakistani Punjab.

The variety is endless, but here are a few examples:

  • Roasted Chicken (whole) - A whole chicken roasted locally known as 'charga' locally.
  • Aloo Gosht (Potatoes and Meat) - Chunks of potato and goat meat in gravy. Levels of spice vary. One example of a generic dish that includes most things + Gosht(meat).
  • Nihari- Beef simmered for several hours. A delicacy often eaten with Nan, Sheer Mal, or Taftan. Few people will have this available without spice. Eat with lemon, fried onion and caution: it is one of the spiciest curries. Thick gravy made from local spices is made with both chicken and beef is oily and spicy. Available mostly everywhere.
  • Paye - or 'Siri Paye' is a stew of goat/beef/mutton bones (typically hooves, skull) and bone marrow. Extremely nutritious and generally eaten for breakfast with naan. Very, very wet salan, often served in a bowl or similar dish. Eat by dipping pieces of naan in it, maybe finishing with a spoon. Can be hard to eat.
  • Korma is a classic dish of Mughlai origin made of either chicken or mutton, typically eaten with nan or bread and is very popular in Pakistan.

Barbecue and kebabs

Meat and grilled meat has played an important part in Pakistan region for centuries. Sajji is a Baluchi dish from Western Pakistan, made of lamb with spices, that has also become popular all over the country. Another Balochi meat dish involves building a large outdoor fire and slowly cooking chickens. The chickens are placed on skewers which are staked into the ground in close proximity to the fire, so that the radiant heat slowly cooks the prepared chickens. Kebabs are a staple item in Pakistani cuisine today, and one can find countless varieties of Halal kebabs all over the country. Each region has its own varieties of Halal kebabs but some like the Seekh kebab, Chicken Tikka, and Shami Halal kebab are especially popular varieties throughout the country. Generally, Halal kebabs from Balochistan and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa tend to be identical to the Afghan style of barbecue, with salt and coriander being the only seasoning used. Regional Halal kebab recipes from Karachi and the wider Sindh region is famous for its spicy kebabs, often marinated in a mixture of spices, lemon juice and yogurt. Barbecued food is also extremely popular in some cities of Punjab such as Lahore, Gujranwala and Sialkot.

Pakistani cuisine is rich with different kebabs. Meat including beef, chicken, lamb and fish is used in kababs. Some popular Halal kebabs are:

  • Chicken Tikka - Barbequed chicken with a spicy exterior. Looks like a huge, red chicken leg and thigh. For all meat lovers. Is available most anywhere.
  • Seekh Kebab - A long skewer of minced beef mixed with herbs and seasonings.
  • Shami Kebab - A round patty of seasoned beef and lentils, softer than seekh kababs.
  • Chapli Kebab - A spicy round kabab that is a specialty of Peshawar.
  • Chicken Kabab - A popular kabab that is found both with bone and without.
  • Lamb Kabab - The all lamb meat kabab is usually served as cubes.
  • Bihari Halal kebab - Skewer of beef mixed with herbs and seasoning.
  • Tikka Halal kebab - A Halal kebab made of beef, lamb or chicken, cut into cubes, marinated with a yogurt blend and grilled on coals.
  • Boti Halal kebab - A Halal kebab made from fillet of meat. Sometimes marinated with green papaya to help tenderize the meat.
  • Shawarma - It is usually a Halal kebab or lamb strips in a naan with chutney and salad.
  • Shashlik - Grilled baby lamb chops (usually from the leg), typically marinated

Other dishes include Chargha, Dhaga kabab, Gola kebab, Reshmi Halal kebab and Sajji.


Falooda Popular desserts include Peshawari ice cream, Sheer Khurma, Kulfi, Falooda, Kheer, Rasmalai, Phirni, Zarda, Shahi Tukray and Rabri. Sweetmeats are consumed on various festive occasions in Pakistan. Some of the most popular are gulab jamun, barfi, ras malai, kalakand, jalebi, and panjiri. Pakistani desserts also include a long list of halvah such as multani, sohan halvah, and hubshee halvah.

Kheer made of roasted seviyaan (vermicelli) instead of rice is popular during Eid ul-Fitr. Gajraila is a sweet made from grated carrots, boiled in milk, sugar, green cardamom, and topped with nuts and dried fruit and is very popular in the country during winter season.

  • Enjoy a variety; ice cream can be found in an abundance of flavours such as the traditional pistachio flavoured Kulfi;
  • Falooda is tasty rosewater dessert and is a popular summer drink throughout the country. Traditional ice-cream known as 'kulfi' mixed with vermicelli, pistachio nuts and flavored with rose-water. Most ice-cream shops have their own versions.
  • Shirini or Mithai: is the generic name for a variety of sweet treats in Pakistan. The sweets are extremely popular in Pakistan and called different things depending on where you go. Eat small chunks at a time, eating large pieces can be rude and will generally be too sweet.
  • Kulfi is a very traditional made ice-cream mixed with cream and different types of nuts.
  • If you want to go to some ice-cream parlours, there are some good western ice-cream parlours in Lahore like "Polka Parlor" "Jamin Java" "Hot Spot". For traditional ice creams, the 'Chaman' ice cream parlour across town is quite popular.
  • Halwa is a sweet dessert. Halwa comes in different styles such as made of eggs, carrots, flour or dry fruits. The halwas are made from semolina, ghee and sugar, garnished with dried fruits and nuts. Carrot halwa (called gaajar ka halwa) is also popular, as is halva made from tender bottle gourds and chanay ki daal. Karachi halva is a speciality dessert from Karachi,
  • Firni or Kheer is similar to vanilla custard though prepared in a different style. the Sohan Halwa is also famous in the country. Equally famous is Habshi halwa, a dark brown milk-based halwa.
  • Gulab jamun — a cheese-based dessert. It is often eaten at festivals or major celebrations such as marriages, on happy occasions and Muslim celebrations of Eid ul-Fitr.

Apart from local restaurants, international fast food chains have also popped up throughout Pakistan. They include, KFC, Pizza Hut, McDonalds, Subway, Nandos, Mr.Cod, Papa Johns, Dominoes etc. There are more European chains than North American.

Snacks (Pakistani fast food)

Pakistani snacks comprise food items in Pakistan that are quick to prepare, spicy, usually fried, and eaten in the evening or morning with tea or with any one of the meals as a side-dish. A given snack may be part of a local culture, and its preparation and/or popularity can vary from place to place. These snacks are often prepared and sold by hawkers on footpaths, bazaars, railway stations and other such places, although they may also be served at restaurants. Some typical snacks are dahi bhala, chaat, chana masala, Bun kebab, pakora, and papar. Others include katchauri, pakoras-either neem pakoras or besan (chickpea) pakoras,gol gappay, samosas—vegetable or beef, bhail puri or daal seu and egg rolls. Nuts, such as pistachios and pine nuts, are also often eaten at home. These snacks often smaller than a regular meal, generally eaten between meals.


  • Pakistani Chinese cuisine
  • Chicken Manchurian is the most popular dish with pieces of stir fried chicken served in a red ketchup based sauce. It is normally served with Egg or chicken fried rice. Basmati is the most common form of rice used.
  • Chinese soup - Chicken corn soup and hot and sour soup are ubiquitous in restaurants, homes and on TV. these are served with staples such as vinegar (sirka) and chili pepper.
  • Noodles - Chicken chowmein and Chopsuey are popular. Their method of cooking employs hearty use of soy sauce, ajino moto, vinegar and chilli sauce with vegetables, boneless chicken and/or Keema (minced meat). Oil concentrations are higher than normal Chinese noodles.

Pakistani condiments

Variety of Chutneys Popular condiments used in Pakistani cuisine:

  • Chutneys
  • onion chutney
  • tomato chutney
  • cilantro (coriander leaves) chutney
  • mint chutney
  • tamarind chutney (Imli chutney)
  • mango (keri) chutney (made from unripe, green mangos)
  • lime chutney (made from whole, unripe limes)
  • garlic chutney made from fresh garlic, coconut and groundnut
  • Achars (pickle)
  • mango achar
  • lemon achar
  • carrot achar
  • cauliflower achar
  • green chilli achar
  • garlic achar
  • gongura achar
  • Hyderabadi pickle

Raita with cucumber and mint

  • Sauces
  • Raita — a cucumber yogurt dip


{{infobox|Tipping|Tip is expected everywhere in Pakistan especially in restaurants and is always a considered a good practice in the country so tip between 5-10% at sit-down places.

In Pakistan eating with your hand (instead of cutlery like forks and spoons) is very common. There's one basic rule of etiquette to observe, particularly in non-urban Pakistan: Use only your right hand. Needless to say, it's wise to wash your hands well before and after eating. For breads for all types, the basic technique is to hold down the item with your forefinger and use your middle-finger and thumb to tear off pieces. The pieces can then be dipped in sauce or used to pick up bits before you stuff them in your mouth. Unlike India, a spoon is commonly used in Pakistan for eating rice dishes.

Tap water can be unsafe for drinking. However, some establishments have water filters/purifiers installed, in which case the water is safe to drink. Packed drinking water, normally called mineral water in Pakistan, is a better choice. As for bottled water, make sure that the cap's seal has not been broken, otherwise, it is a tell tale sign of tampering or that unscrupulous vendors reuse old bottles and fill them with tap water, which is generally unsafe for foreign tourists to drink without prior boiling. Bottled water brands like Aquafina (by PepsiCo) and Nestle are widely available and costs Rs 80 for a 1.5 litre bottle. At semi-urban or rural areas, it may be advisable to ask for boiled water.

The taste of the water is said to be very good in the north-eastern side of Pakistan, especially in Swat, Kaghan and Gilgit. Ask for bottled water wherever possible, and avoid anything cold that might have water in it.

Try a local limca cola, which makes a "pop" sound when opened. Pakola, Pakistan's premier soft drink brand, is available in flavours of Ice cream soda, Lychee, Orange, Raspberry, Apple Sidra, Vino, Double cola and Bubble up. Try Lassi, which is a classic yoghurt drink served either plain or sweet and sometimes flavoured or even fused with fresh fruit. Rooh-Afza, a red-coloured, sweet, herbal drink. Sugar Cane Juice — which is extracted by mechanical force — is best when served fresh. You might also love the Falouda and Gola Ganda, which include various kinds of syrups in crushed ice.

  • Tea (or Chai as it is referred to in Pakistan) is popular throughout the country.
  • Both black and green tea (Sabz chai or qahvah) are common and are traditionally drunk with cardamom and lots of sugar. Lemon is optional but recommended with green tea.
  • Kashmiri chai (Pink Tea), a traditional tea beverage from Kashmir, is a milky tea with pistachios, almonds and nuts added to give additional flavour. This tea is very popular during weddings, special occasions and in the cold season.
  • Coffee is also available in all cities.

In the warmer southern region, sweet drinks are readily available throughout the day. Look for street vendors that have fruits (real or decorations) hanging from their roofs. Also, some milk/yogurt shops serve lassi. Ask for meethi lassi for a sweet yogurt drink and you can also get a salty lassi which tastes good and is similar to the Arabic Laban if you are having "bhindi" in food or some other rich dish. There is also a sweet drink called Mango Lassi which is very rich and thick, made with yogurt, mango pulp, and pieces of mango.

Alcohol (both imported and local) is available to non-Muslim foreigners at off licenses and bars in most top end hotels. The local alcoholic beer is manufactured by Murree Brewery (who also produce non-alcoholic beverages including juices). It is not allowed for Muslims to buy, possess or consume alcohol in Pakistan. There is a huge black market across the country and the police tend to turn a blind eye to what is going on in private. In Karachi and other parts of Sindh, the alcohol can be purchased from designated liquor shops. If you are a foreigner and looking for alcohol, you can contact customer department at Murree Brewery for assistance by telephone at. +92 051-5567041-7.

Tea varieties

Kashmiri chai Pakistanis drink a great deal of tea, which is locally called "chai in most Pakistani languages" and everywhere you can get tea from one variety or another. Both black with milk and green teas are popular and are popular in different parts of Pakistan. It is one of the most consumed beverages in Pakistani cuisine. Different regions throughout the country have their own different flavours and varieties, giving Pakistani tea culture a diverse blend.

  • In Karachi, the strong presence of Muhajir cuisine has allowed the Masala chai version to be very popular.
  • Doodh Pati Chai is thick and milky. It is made by cooking tea leaves with milk and sugar and sometimes cardamom for fragrance. Extremely sweet, this is a local variation of a builder's tea. It is more preferred in Punjab.
  • "Sabz chai" and "kahwah", respectively. Kahwah is often served after every meal in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Pashtun belt of Balochistan and with saffron and nuts in Kashmir.
  • Sulaimani chai is black tea served with lemon.
  • Kashmiri chai or "noon chai", a pink, milky tea with pistachios and cardamom, is consumed primarily at special occasions, weddings, and during the winter when it is sold in many kiosks.
  • In northern Pakistan (Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan), salty buttered Tibetan style tea is consumed.

Biscuits are often enjoyed with tea.


Besides tea, there are other drinks that may be included as part of the Pakistani cuisine. All of them are non-alcoholic as the consumption of alcohol is not allowed by Islam. During the 20th century, drinks such as coffee and soft drinks have also become popular in Pakistan. It is very common to have soft drinks nowadays with Pakistani meals. istani meals.

  • Lassi - Milk with yoghurt, with an either sweet or salty taste. Lassi is a traditional drink in the Punjab region
  • Gola ganda - Different types of flavours over crushed ice
  • Sugarcane juice (Ganney ka ras) — In summer, you can get fresh sugarcane juice in many places and even a lot of fresh fruit juice varieties. Be careful as fresh juice may contain many germs besides unhygienic ice. The juice vendors do not always clean their equipment properly and do not wash the fruits either.
  • Lemonade (Nimbu pani)
  • Sherbet (A syrup mixed in water)
  • Sikanjabeen - Lemonade (Mint is also added)
  • Almond sherbet
  • Sherbet-e-Sandal - Drink made with the essence of sandal wood
  • Kashmiri chai/Gulabi chai - a milky tea known for its pink colour, with an either sweet or salty taste
  • Sathu - Famous drink from Punjab
  • Thaadal - A sweet drink from Sindh
  • Sardai - Mixture of different nuts and kishmish.
  • Sattu - famous drink in lahore


Drinking alcohol is generally frowned upon. Murree Brewery is the only reputable maker of Pakistan's beer brand which is widely available throughout Pakistan. Karachi is very lax towards alcohol with wine shops where one can get any brand of liquor.

Muslim Friendly Hotels in Pakistan

Night in Murree Pakistan, as a middle income country with a sizeable middle class and a significant domestic tourism industry, has a decent range of hotels covering all price ranges. International Muslims are often disappointed by the cleanliness of Pakistani hotels - bedding is often clean but bathrooms can be a bit grungy. Pakistan is facing a significant slump in international tourist numbers; in the northern areas in particular you'll often find yourself the only guest.

Budget The cheapest hotels are usually found around busy transport hubs like bus and train stations. Don't be fooled by an impressive lobby - ask to see the room and check the beds, toilets, lights, etc, before checking in. Hot water and air conditioning will be luxuries in this class.

Mid range covers a wide spectrum of hotels - often listed in your guide book or on-line. All mid-range places will have a/c and hot water - although check if they have a working generator - air conditioning isn't of much use without electricity!Always check the room before handing over any money - ask for a no smoking room away from the street - and haggle to get a better rate. PTDC (government run) hotels fall in to the mid range section and warrant a special mention - often these places are the oldest hotel in town, in an excellent location, but the facilities will be showing their age. They are still a good option however, and discounts can be negotiated. Mid range prices are around Rs2,000 - Rs6,000 per night.

Top end covers the Serenas, Pearl Continentals and Marriotts. The Serena hotels are almost always excellent, whilst the Pearl Continental hotels are more patchy (e.g. the one in Rawalpindi is a bit grungy whilst the one in Muzaffarabad is very nice. At top-end places, security is very visible with small armies of security guards stationed around the perimeter. Prices are from Rs 6,000 and up, with the big city luxury hotels charging at least Rs 10,000 a night.

Government rest houses are mentioned in numerous guide books and are located in rural and mountainous areas for local civil servants to use on their travels, with many built pre-independence and exuding a quaint English charm. Previously the adventurous tourist could book these places for the night for Rs1,000 or so, and have a lovely time. But the tourist slump means that the forestry departments who run these places don't bother any more - phones will go unanswered - tourist information offices won't have any details etc, so count yourself lucky if you manage to arrange to stay in a Government rest house.

Solo female travellers are at a disadvantage when it comes to hotels. All budget and many mid-range places will be the sole reserve of men, in particular in the cities - and hotel owners may be uncomfortable with the idea of an unaccompanied women staying at their hotel. Hence you may be forced to stay at the upper-mid range and top end places - which will eat through your budget that much quicker. In some places the term "hotel" is reserved for simpler establishments, with "guest house" referring to medium-sized establishments where the standard is typically higher. Restaurants are also called "hotels", creating a fun potential for confusion.

Stay safe as a Muslim in Pakistan

In an emergency, call the police by 15 from any landline phone. To get an ambulance, dial 115 and 1122 from any landline or mobile phone.


Pakistan has endured several bomb attacks over the last few years against security forces and so called western institutions (e.g. the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad), and has seen the public assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto upon her return from exile. These attacks are increasing due to increased military action against the Taliban. For the ordinary traveller, Pakistan has a tradition of hospitality that has been subverted by perceptions of 'Western' unfairness. Social protests tend to turn violent and political demonstrations are always sensitive. Before travelling you should check with your embassy about off-limits areas, the latest political and military developments and keep an close eye on current issues with independent news sources.

Stay away from military convoys as they are a potential target for suicide bombing. Similarly, going near military or intelligence facilities can be dangerous.

Carrying firearms can land you in police custody, except if you get a special permit from a relevant authority.

Sensitive areas

The line of control between Azad Kashmir and the Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir is off-limits for foreign tourists, though domestic tourists can visit Azad Kashmir without any restriction, but should keep their identity cards with them.

The Federally Administered Tribal Areas and all regions near the sensitive Afghan border should not be visited at any time by foreign tourists, as the Pakistan government has little to no authority in these areas and cannot aid you in an emergency. If you do have reason to visit, seek expert guidance, including that of your embassy, who can advise you on the special permissions required. Swat Valley landscape Peace has returned to Swat Valley and the army holds full control with lots of foreign nationals working for NGOs there. Road infrastructure was destroyed due to the 2010 floods but the army is making massive efforts to restore the infrastructure. Balochistan is considered dangerous and not fit for Muslim travellers due to increased kidnappings of foreigners.

The rules regarding sensitive areas and No Objection Certificates (NOCs), Note Verbals and other permissions and paperwork some in officialdom deem necessary for your to travel around the country are ever-changing. The most notorious NOC regulation is for foreigners to enter Kashmir, with the intention being so the security services can keep track (i.e. follow) foreigners to make sure they don't visit places they shouldn't. Outside Kashmir diplomats are the primary user of NOCs and theoretically the normal tourist should be exempt. However those in officialdom can view all foreigners with suspicion and demand an NOC when you step of a plane or out of a bus. NOCs need to be applied for through the Ministry of Interior, however if you are travelling on a non-diplomatic passport you should be fine - but its good to be aware of this nonetheless.

Be aware of sensitive areas. You may see road signs in English saying 'no foreigners allowed beyond this point', for example on the road to Kahuta near Islamabad. If you see and need to pass one of these signs, at the very least stop at the nearest police station and see if they will let you pass (speaking Urdu is an advantage here), or turn back and find another route. Typically, restricted areas are those with nuclear or military installations nearby. Kahuta, southeast of Islamabad, and the Sakesar hill station near the Amb temples in the Salt Range are two restricted areas the visitor may stumble across. Getting caught in a restricted area will mean a lot of wasted time, embarrassment and possible involvement of your embassy.

Dangerous drivers

African countries typically top the list of road fatalities per 100,000 motor vehicles, but few countries in Asia are able to beat Pakistan's score in 2010 of 383. Pakistan has a high number of fatal traffic collisions and the World Health Organisation estimated 30,131 deaths on its roads in 2010.

Drivers are reckless and scoff at laws and what would be common courtesies in other countries. Their philosophy of "might is right" often leads to horrendous crashes between trucks and trucks & buses.


Prostitution has no legal recognition in Pakistan. Moreover, despite the growth of male prostitution, homosexuality is outlawed in the country.

Homosexuals should be very cautious in Pakistan, because, as in most Muslim countries, homosexuality remains a crime in Pakistan and punishments can be severe. Under Section 377 of the Pakistan Penal Code, whoever voluntarily has "carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal" shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than two years nor more than ten years, and shall also be liable for a fine. Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offence described in this section. Arrests are not common for homosexuality, as evidenced by a vibrant nightlife existing in many metropolitan areas.

Medical Issues in Pakistan

Visitors are strongly advised to refrain from drinking tap water; many Pakistani locals themselves drink boiled or purified water. Take every precaution to drink only boiled, filtered or bottled water. Tap water is known to contain many impurities. Ice is usually made from regular tap-water, and may be even harder to avoid. Fresh milk from the carrier should be boiled and cooled before consumption. Non-pasteurized dairy can spread tuberculosis. Be careful of the people with a hacking cough. Nestle Milk Pack, Haleeb Milk, Olpers, and others are trusted brands and are available at most grocery stores.

Take precautions against both dengue fever and malaria, which are both spread by mosquitoes. The first and most effective way is to avoid getting bitten, but if you plan to stay in a place where malaria is common, you will need to take prophylactic medicines such as Proguanil, doxycycline, or mefloquine. The risk of getting malaria decreases with higher altitudes and is usually negligible above 2500m.
No prophylaxis or cure is available for dengue fever. It is prevalent during summer, especially during the monsoon (July to September) and can be fatal. It is caused by mosquitoes that bite during the day and the most widespread outbreaks of dengue are expected in Punjab province.

In the summer it gets very hot. Be careful to stay hydrated. Temperature range between 40°C to 50°C in June and July! But, as soon as monsoon rains set in during August - Sept months, it cools to around 30°C - but with high levels of humidity.

Do not eat food that has been lying out for some time, as high temperatures speed up deterioration. Avoid posh but unfrequented restaurants.

Some Pakistani dishes can be very spicy! Always notify your host, cook or waiter if you cannot take very spicy food.

Local Customs in Pakistan

Shalwar kameez colours Customs in Pakistan are very similar to those in other Muslim and neighbouring countries, in particular, India with whom Pakistan share many characteristics. The culture, like most others in the Middle East and Central Asia, has a strong tradition of hospitality. Guests are often treated extremely well. Pakistanis pride themselves on their tradition of hospitality to guests (mehmanawazi in Urdu). While, Pakistan has not sees few foreigners and there is some insularity as well; consequently any foreigner may be regarded with suspicion and may be stared at. But in general, Pakistanis are warm, friendly and generous individuals with a strong interest in foreigners and other cultures.


In dealing with Pakistani people, the following tips relating to customs and etiquette may prove useful:

  • When entering a house, you will often be showered with tea, sweets and gifts — it's considered ungrateful to refuse these. Finishing a meal involves a delicate balance. Cleaning your plate will invite more to be served, while leaving too much may be a sign you didn't care for it. Aim for leaving just a little, announcing you're full, and heavily praising the food. When you're being invited to a home for the first time, bring a food gift such as a cake or a sweet box, it is considered very generous and will be very appreciated.
  • As with most of South Asia or in the Muslim world, you should use your right hand for eating, shaking hands and giving or receiving everything (including money), and reserve your left hand for handling shoes and assisting in toilet duties.
  • Most Pakistanis are religious, but fairly liberal and open minded in big cities and secular points of view are not uncommon. Although its strict Islamic moral code is well known, Pakistani laws are not as strict as other Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia. Respecting the dozens of unspoken rules and regulations of Pakistani life can be a daunting prospect for Muslim travellers, but don't be intimidated. As a foreigner you will be given leeway and it doesn't take long to acclimatise yourself.
  • Most Pakistani women don't usually interact with strangers, so don't get embarrassed if they avoid communicating with you. If they don't answer you, it is best not to attempt further communication. People of opposite sex do not shake hands when they greet each other. It is sometimes usual among men to put the left hand on your chest (heart) when shaking hands. In urban Pakistan and in some other parts of the country, men and women usually lower their head and lift their hand to their forehead to make the "adab" gesture when greeting each other.
  • Business tends to move slowly, and will often be preceded by a lot of socializing, tea drinking, and meeting of the family. Rushing to the point may be considered rude, and even sour the deal.
  • Pakistan is a conservative country and Pakistani females generally dress conservatively, although in metropolitan cities more liberal attire can be seen. It is advisable for women to wear long skirts or trousers in public. It is not mandatory for women to wear hijab or abaya. Pakistani women wear the traditional shalwar kameez. In the big cities, women wearing jeans and khakis is not a very uncommon sight, especially in casual settings, shopping malls and around picnic spots. Dress codes for men are more lax, though shorts are uncommon. Females dressing immodestly may attract unwanted attention from men. Avoid walking in such clothes late at night even in the bigger cities and it is best to avoid going out on the roads alone even at day time. Keeping some company is always advisable.
  • Greetings are considered to be of extreme importance in Pakistani culture. Men should never shake hands with or touch a woman they don't know very well.
  • Avoid taking photos of men and women without their consent, as this may lead you into serious trouble. Pakistani people are very conservative about someone they don't know taking pictures of them. Also, photography in non-touristy areas can be considered sensitive due to terrorist activities in the country.
  • Pakistanis will consider themselves obliged to go out of their way to fulfill a guest's request and will insist very strongly that it is no inconvenience to do so, even if this is not true. This of course means that there is a reciprocal obligation on you as a guest to take extra care not to be a burden. It is customary to put up a token friendly argument with your host or any other member of the group when paying bills at restaurants or while making purchases. The etiquette for this is somewhat complicated.
In a business lunch or dinner, it is usually clear upfront who is supposed to pay, and there is no need to fight. But if you are someone's personal guest and they take you out to a restaurant, you should offer to pay anyway, and you should insist a lot. Sometimes these fights get a little funny, with each side trying to snatch the bill away from the other, all the time laughing politely. If you don't have experience in these things, chances are you will lose the argument the first time, but in that case, make sure that you pay the next time. (And try to make sure that there is a next time.) Unless the bill amount is very large do not offer to share it, and only as a second resort after they have refused to let you pay it all.
The same rule applies when you are making a purchase. If you are purchasing something for yourself, your hosts might still offer to pay for it if the amount is not very high, and sometimes, even if it is. In this situation, unless the amount is very low, you should never lose the fight. (If the amount is in fact ridiculously low, say less than ₹10, then don't insult your hosts by putting up a fight.) Even if by chance you lose the fight to pay the shopkeeper, it is customary to practically thrust (in a nice way, of course) the money into your host's hands.
These rules do not apply if the host has made it clear beforehand that it is his or her treat, especially for some specific occasion.

View of Karachi

  • It is considered rude to introduce yourself to strangers; it is generally advisable to ask some mutual acquaintance to introduce you. Strangers will speak with each other in the "formal" register of Urdu, and using the familiar register will be seen as very rude. When being introduced to elders or strangers while seated it is customary to get up as a sign of respect and It is advisable to ask a person how they wish to be addressed.
  • If at all possible, try not to schedule meetings during Ramadan. The workday is shortened, and since Muslims fast, they will not be able to offer you tea, which is a sign of hospitality. Meeting are also not scheduled at namaz.
  • Remember to remove your shoes when entering a religious building such as mosques or shrines. There are dedicated areas where your footwear may be stored for a small fee in shrines while in mosques, there may be racks to store the shoes but where they're not available, you can leave them where others do. Women aren't generally allowed to visit mosques in Pakistan so they shouldn't except some exceptions, but where they do, they must wear very modest clothes (long skirts and shawls to cover the body as well as sleeves and legs), and cover their heads with a headscarf or such like. Men should also wear modest clothes, not shorts as it is considered rude. Mosques are sometimes off-limits to non-Muslims so it is always better to inquire with someone at the mosque before entering.

Sensitive issues

  • Be careful of initiating political discussions. It's best not to discuss topics such as the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict or the role of Islam in society regardless of what opinion you hold. India is a sensitive subject about which many Pakistanis will have strong views. Take care when discussing the issue, and avoid getting into a conversation about the whole issue. It's fine to have a chat about your visit to India, the people, and Indo-Pak cricket matches. But it is far better to avoid any discussion of the political disputes with India or the Kashmir Conflict. Likewise, bitterness and often intense dislike may be expressed concerning Indians or the nation of India and its strong allies. Discussion in favour of the United States and Israel is also discouraged.
  • Use common sense and a healthy dose of courtesy when in conversation with Pakistanis. Kashmir is a particularly sensitive topic and best avoided altogether. Discussion about religion and Islam should remain respectful and positive — some Pakistanis are not tolerant of other religions, and if theirs is spoken about negatively, it could result in violence.

Telecommunications in Pakistan

The country code for Pakistan is +92 if you are calling from outside the country. Phone numbers are seven digits long with two digit city code in larger districts, and six digits long with three digit city code in smaller districts, for a total of nine digits as a standard nationwide (except for Azad Kashmir). All mobile numbers, however, are seven digits long and begin with a four digit network code "03XX", where XX indicates the cellular provider. Thus Pakistani mobile numbers are linked to one particular cellular provider, NOT one particular city as in North America. Therefore the city prefix should not be dialled in addition to the cellular prefix. As in many countries, omit the initial zero when dialling a city or cell code from outside Pakistan and prefix the '92' country code after dialling your country's international access code. Thus Telenor cell number 765 4321 dialled from the USA/Canada would be 011 92 345 765 4321 and Peshawar landline 234-5678 dialled from France or the UK would be 00 92 91 234-5678.

The international access code for outgoing calls from Pakistan is 00.

PTCL offers landline and wireless phone services.

Public Call Offices can be found all over the country. You will find a PCO in nearly 50% of the general stores where there is usually someone who operates the phone and fax. Fees will be charged according to the time spent, and you will pay when you have finished your call.

Cell phone

Calling from Price Syntax Example
Same city Local number 123-4567
Different city STD 0-area code-number 051 123-4567
Overseas ISD +92-area code-number +92 51 123-4567

Major providers of mobile phone service (GSM) are:

One very convenient feature is that all Pakistani cellular operators use the GSM platform, so that cellular handsets nationwide are freely interchangeable between providers.

Cell phones were considered as a status symbol a few years ago but, since 2002, the telecommunications industry has experienced a bit of a boom. These days you can hardly find a single person in the country without a personal cell phone. There are various service providers offering a huge variety of plans. Among them are Jazz, Warid Telecom, Telenor, Ufone & Zong (China Mobile). It's not a bad idea to buy a cell phone and use a prepaid plan to get yourself connected while you are in the country. The mobile phones and the prepaid plans are very cheap; you can usually get a new affordable cell phone just for Rs 2,000 and a prepaid connection for Rs 150-400.

Due to security threats, in order to purchase a SIM card you will need to provide formal identification such as visas, resident permits and residing address in Pakistan along with a written declaration that you will not use the provided phone number for any illegal activity. Starting March 2015, possesion of an unverified SIM will be considered a serious and punishable crime.

Internet Cafe's in Pakistan

Cybercafes can be found on virtually every street corner and the rates are as low as Rs 40-50 per hour. They usually don't have a very fast operating system so don't be too impatient. They usually use 17 inch monitors with Windows XP or Windows 7 usually installed. Most of the cafes have a decent speed internet connection.

Internet Access can be obtained easily on notebook computers with the help of 3Genabled mobile connections, supported by almost all of the five mobile operators. Jazz provides 4G and 4G based connection in urban areas of the country, Telenor's also provides services in 4G to most of the urban parts of country. The standard price of GPRS/EDGE usage is Rs 10-18 per MB of data transferred but Zong offers Rs 15/h. If you wish to download much more, you may want to use unlimited packages, provided only by all networks. World Call and Ufone also offers USB Modem. 4G and 4G based connections are also available from all the mobile service providers.

Wateen, WiTribe, and Qubee are WiMax internet providers. National telecommunication company PTCL offers a USB EVo device for very fast internet connections.

There are Wi-Fi hotspots all over Pakistan, in hotels, malls, and cafes/restaurants.

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