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Pakistan Country Information


Pakistan traces its history back to 2,500 years B.C., when a highly developed civilization in the Indus
Valley, excavations at Harappa, Moenjodaro, Kot Diji and Mehr Garh have brought to light, the
evidence of an advanced civilization existing even in more ancient times. Around 1,500 B.C., the
Aryans overwhelmed this region, and influenced the Hindu civilization, whose center moved to Ganges
Valley, further east. Later, the Persians occupied the northern region in the 5th century B.C. up to the
2nd century A.D. The Greeks came in 327 B.C., under Alexander of Macedonia, and passed away like
a meteor. In 712 AD, the Arabs, led by Muhammad Bin Qasim, Landed somewhere near modern
Karachi and ruled the lower half of Pakistan for two hundred years. During this time, Islam took roots
in the soil and influenced the life, culture and traditions of the people. In the 10th century AD, began
the systematic conquest of South Asia by the Muslims from Central Asia, who ruled here up to the
18th century.Then the British became the masters of the land and ruled for nearly 200 years and for
only 100 years over what is Pakistan now. The Muslim revival began towards the end of the last
century when Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, a renowned Muslim leader and educationist, launched a
movement for intellectual renaissance of the Muslims of South Asia. In 1930, the well known poet -
philosopher, Allama Muhammad Iqbal, conceived the idea of a separate state for the Muslims of the
South Asia. In 1940, a resolution was adopted by the all-India Muslim League demanding a separate
dependent homeland for the Muslims of South Asia. After seven years of un-tiring struggle under the
brilliant leadership of Quaid-e-Azam (The great leader) Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan emerged on
the world map as a sovereign state, on 14th August, 1947.


Pakistan stretches from the Arabian Sea to the high mountains of Central Asia, and covers an area of
803,944 km2. It lies approximately between 24° and 37° north latitude, and between 61° and 78°
east longitude. It neighbours Iran to the west, Afghanistan to the north, China to the northeast, and
India to the east and southeast along a 2,000 km, partially contested border. There is a 1,000 km
long coastline along the Arabian Sea.
The great mountain ranges of the Himalayas, the Karakorams and the Hindukush form Pakistan’s
northern highlands of North West Frontier Province and the Northern Area. Punjab province is a flat,
alluvial plain with five major rivers dominating the upper region eventually joining the Indus River
flowing south to the Arabian Sea. Sindh is bounded on the east by the Thar Desert and the Rann of
Kutch and on the west by the Kirthar range. Balochistan Plateau is an arid tableland, encircled by dry
The climate is continental and is characterized by extreme variations of temperature. Winter (January)
temperatures range from 20°c along the coast to (-15)°c in the high mountains (above 460 m).
Summer (July) temperatures range from 45°c in the southeastern deserts to 20°c in the high
mountains. The southwest monsoon (July-October) provides rainfall of about 40 inches or more in the
mountainous northern areas to about 6-8 inches on the coast. Rainfall varies from year to year, and
successive periods of flooding and drought are not uncommon.
Pakistan can be divided physiographically into four regions: the great highlands, the Balochistan
Plateau, the Indus Plain and the desert areas. The Himalayan and the trans-Himalayan mountain
ranges, rising to an average elevation of more than 6,000 m and including some of the world’s highest
peaks, such as K2 (8,616m) and Nanga Parbat (8,125m), make up the great highlands which occupy
the northern most portion of the country. The Balochistan Plateau, a broken highland region about
300 m in elevation with many ridges crossing it from northeast to southwest, occupies the western
and southwestern sectors of the country. The Indus Plain, the most prosperous agricultural region of
Pakistan, covers an area of 520,000 km2 in the east and extends to 1,100 km from northern Pakistan
southward to the Arabian Sea. In the southeast are the desert areas.


The main administrative divisions are the provinces of Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and the North West
Frontier Province (NWFP) plus the Federal Capital Territory of Islamabad. Two other regions, the
Northern Areas and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) are administered by the Government of Pakistan.
Pakistan is situated between latitude 24 and 37 degrees North and longitude 62 and 75 degrees East.
West - Iran
East - India
North-west - Afghanistan
North - China
South - Arabian Sea.

POPULATION (1998 Census)

Total Population: 130.58 million.
Growth Rate: 2.61% per year
Density: 164 persons/Sq.km.
Sex Ratio: 108 males to 100 females

Population of Provinces & Regions:

NWFP: 17,555,000
Punjab: 72,585,000
Sindh: 29,991,000
Balochistan: 6,511,000
FATA: 3,138,000
Northern Area: 933,013

Population of Major Cities:

Islamabad: 799,000
Lahore: 5,129,214
Faisalabad: 2,280,360
Karachi: 9,269,265
Rawalpindi: 1,406,214
Hyderabad: 1,447,957

803,950 Sq. km. (including FATA and FANA).

Pakistan has well defined seasons; Winter (December - February), Spring (March - April), Summer
(May - September) and Autumn (October - November). During summer in central and southern parts
of the country, the temperature may go as high as 45 C. However, the Northern regions have very
pleasant weather during summers. Between July and August, the monsoon brings an average 38 to
51 cm of rain to plains and 152 to 203 cm in lower Himalayan valleys of Murree, Kaghan, Swat and
Azad Kashmir.

Muslim (97%), Hindu (1.5%), Christian (1%) and other minorities.

National Language: Urdu
Official Language: English

Main Regional Languages:

Punjab : Punjabi, Seraiki and Potohari
Sind : Sindhi and Seraiki
Balochistan : Balochi, Barahwai, Pushto and Makrani,
Frontier : Pushto, Hindko, Kashmiri, Khowar, Kohistani, Gujar and Kalash
Northern Areas : Balti, Shina, Burushaski and Wakhi.

Basic unit of currency is Rupee which divides into 100 paisa. Currency notes of 1, 2, 5, 10, 50, 100,
500 and 1000 rupees are in use. Coins of 25, 50 paisa, 01 & 02 rupees are in circulation.

Exchage Rate
Pakistan observes floating exchange rate system.
Euro € 1 = Rs. 72.-- (June 2005)

Credit Cards:
American Express is the most widely accepted card. Mastercard and Visa are also good. Dinners Club
and other cards have more limited use.

Travellers Cheques:
Generally accepted at most banks, 4 and 5-star hotels and major shops. To avoid additional exchange
rate charges, travellers are advised to take travellers cheques in US Dollars or Pounds Sterling.


Metric system is used in Pakistan as the official system.

220 V, 50 Hz AC.

Pakistan Standard Time is GMT plus 5 hours. It gets dark at about 5 p.m. in winter and at 7.30 p.m. in

Banks: Monday to Thursday and Saturday: 0900 — 1330 hours. Friday: 0900 - 1230 hours.

Government Offices:
Monday to Thursday and Saturday: 0800 - 1500 hours. Friday: 0800 — 1200 hours

Private Businesses:
Monday to Thursday and Saturday: 0900 — 1700 hours. Friday: 0900 - 1200
Sunday is weekly holiday. Shorter hours during Ramadan (fasting month) are observed throughout

All traffic in Pakistan runs on the left side. International or own national license is valid. All vehicles
must be insured and registered. Minimum age for driving is 18 years.

Tourists are advised to take insurance against accidents, thefts etc., from their country of origin.
There are many insurance companies in Pakistan’s major cities who also offer such services.

Minimum 10% to 20% of the total bill is generally appreciated.

Tap water is un-safe to drink. Bottled mineral water is available at towns and most tourist attractions.
Travellers may use water-purification tablets to drink normal water during trekking or wilderness

International Telephone for Pakistan is: 0092,

Domestic Codes: (add 0 at the beginning, when dialing from Pakistan)

Islamabad : 51
Karachi : 21
Lahore : 42

Gilgit : 572
Skardu : 575
Chitral : 933
Peshawar : 91
Quetta : 81
Faisalabad : 411
Hyderabad : 221
Multan: 61
Rawalpindi : 51

For internal calls, Card Phone booths are installed at all airport lounges and main business centres in
most cities and towns. Public telephone, telex and fax facilities are available at the Customers Service
Centres (CSC) or at private general stores and shops, identified by a sign displaying ‘PCO’ on green
boards/lettering. Mobile phone can also be obtained from private companies on rental basis for short
periods. Radio paging service is provided by DC Pager service at Lahore, Rawalpindi, Islamabad,
Karachi and Peshawar.

EMERGENCY PHONE NUMBERS (for all major cities)

Police Emergency : 15
Telephone Inquiry : 17
Fire Brigade : 16
Ambulance : 115
Flight Inquiry : 114
Railway Enquiry : 117

Postcards: Rs. 11 for all international postcards. Airmail letters from Rs. 30, depending on weight.
A number of speedy mail delivery services such as; Airmail Express, Urgent Mail Service, Local Express
Delivery Service, International Speed Post, Fax Mail, International Fax Mail, Fax Money Order Service,
Urgent Money Order Service, Postal Draft Service and Saving Bank Mobile Account, are being offered
by Pakistan Post Office. A number of private Courier Services are also working in Pakistan for speedy
delivery of letters and documents.

Pakistan Television (PTV) telecast entertainment programmes of music, plays/dramas and stage
shows/talks from 05 TV Stations; Karachi, Quetta, Lahore, Islamabad and Peshawar. PTV has also
started Ptv World which can be viewed in the Middle East and South Asia. A private Channel, Shalimar
Television Network (STN), besides telecast of similar programmes, also re-telecast programmes of
BBC, CNN, TNT Movies etc. A number of private cable programs are also available.

Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) has 22 radio stations throughout Pakistan which offer music,
plays, news and talks in national and local languages. A PBC World Service from Islamabad presents
programmes in a number of international languages.
A private music channel, “FM100” has 24 hours music service from 04 major cities of Pakistan.
Most towns have cinema houses which run daily 3 shows of feature films in Urdu, English and local
Major cities have Art Councils and private theaters, yet most plays are performed in Urdu and regional
Yet the most popular source of entertainment are the festivals that take place throughout the year.
Urs (festival at the death anniversary of sufi saint) takes place at every shrine at different times of the
year, so there is hardly a day in calender when one can’t find an Urs being faithfully celebrated in

More than 200 daily newspapers and 1700 magazines and periodicals are published throughout the
country in English, Urdu and other regional languages. Leading national dailies in English language
are: Dawn, News, The Nation & Frontier Post.

ECONOMY (1996)
GDP: US$ 59.531 billion Growth rate: 6.1 percent
GNP: US$ 60 billion Per Capita Income: US$ 49
Major Exports: US$ 8.599 billion (raw cotton and cotton products, rice, fish and fish products, carpets
and rugs, leather and leather goods, sports and surgical goods etc.)
Major Imports: US$ 11.669 billion
(tea, petroleum and its products, edible oils, chemical fertilizers, milk and milk food, agricultural
machinery, transport equipment, medicines, iron and steel).
Major Trading Partners:
USA, Japan, Germany, UK, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, China.


By Air:
More than 30 airlines fly to Pakistan from over 50 countries. Most of the international flights arrive at
Yet PIA, British Airways, Emirates, Saudia, Gulf, Qatar Airways, Thai, Singapore Airlines, Air India and
Xinjiang China Airlines fly direct to Lahore and/or Islamabad.
Pakistan International (PIA) has direct flights from the main Mediterranean and European cities, as
well as from New York, Toronto and Nairobi. It also runs a Far East Network from Tokyo, Beijing,
Jakarta, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. PIA have also flights to Tashkent and Almaty from
Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar and Karachi.

By Land:
Silk Route from/ China: The border over Khunjerab Pass is open from 1st May to 31st October for
groups and till 15 November for individual tourists. Customs, Immigration post remain open daily from
0830 to 1100 hours for outgoing travellers and up to 1600 hours (Pakistan Standard Time) for
incoming tourists. Travel time from Sost to Tashkurgan (China) is 05 hours (220 kms). The Chinese
border post, Tashkurgan is open 1200 to 1400 hours (Beijing Time) for outgoing tourists and up to
1600 for incoming travellers.
PTDC and NATCO (Northern Areas Transport Corp.) run daily buses, vans, and jeeps from Sost to

From India:
Wagha is the only land border open between Pakistan and India (Lahore-Amritsar route). The Wagha
border post is open daily for foreigners; Summer (16 April to 15 October) 0830 to 1430 hrs and
Winter (16 October to 15 April) 0900 to 1500 hrs.

Pakistan Tourism (PTDC) and Delhi Transport (DTC) have started a luxury, direct bus service between
Lahore and Delhi from 16 March, 1999. The 43-seater, air-conditioned bus leave simultaneousely from
Faletti’s Hotel, Egerton Road, Lahore and Dr. Ambedkar Terminal, Delhi Gate, New Delhi on every
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 0600 hours. The service includes cost of breakfast,
lunch and evening tea enroute. Total travel time is 11 hours.

The Lahore-Delhi (Samjhota Express) train leaves Lahore at 1100 hrs on Mondays and Thursdays.
Check-in time at Lahore Railway Station is 0800 hrs. (Note: The train may take almost 06 hours to
reach Amritsar from Lahore, due to lenghty immigration/customs clearance and checking procedure
for train passangers).

From Iran:
Pak-Iran border crossing is only possible through Taftan-Zahidan, from 0900 hrs to 1700 hrs with
break from 1300 hrs to 1400 hrs. Several buses and coaches daily leave from Taftan to Quetta (634
km - 16 - 18 hours).
There is a weekly express train from Zahidan to Quetta (via Taftan - 27 hours). Another Passenger
(slower) train leaves Taftan every Thursday for Quetta.

By Sea:
No passenger boats or ships for the general public sail to or from Pakistan at present. A few pilgrim

ships/boats, do ply between Pakistan and the Gulf States. There are some plans of starting a Ferry
Service between Karachi and Dubai in near future. Please contact Pakistan National Ferry Services
(Pvt.) Ltd., F-24/6 Block-9, Beverly Estate, Clifton, Karachi. (Tel:021-5872518, 5872505 Fax: 5872596)
or Dubai office (Tel: 521515), for further information.

All international airports are equipped with Banks, car rental, tourist information, duty free shop,
restaurant, hotels reception booths, post office and public call offices.

Airport Departure Tax (International)

Economy Rs. 400:
Club Rs. 600
First Class Rs. 800
Foreign Travel Tax (on tickets purchased inside Pakistan) Rs.1500

Note: Diplomats, transit passengers and children under 2 years are exempt from above taxes.


Pakistan is a special interest destination. Its main attractions include adventure tourism in the
Northern Areas, cultural and archaeological tourism as found at Taxila, Moenjodaro, Harappa and
Swat and early Muslim and Mughal heritage of Multan, Lahore, Thatta and Peshawar. From the mighty
Karakorams in the North to the vast alluvial delta of the Indus river in the South, Pakistan remains a
land of high adventure and nature. Trekking, mountaineering, white water rafting, wild boar hunting,
mountain and desert jeep, Camel and Yak safaris, trout fishing and bird watching, are a few activities
which entice the adventure and nature lovers to Pakistan.

Northern Pakistan
Northern Areas of Pakistan, spread over 72,496 sq. km are as fascinating as its southern region.
Amidst towering snow-clad peaks with heights varying from 1,000 m to 8, 000 meters, the regions of
Gilgit, Hunza and Baltistan recall Shangri-La. The cultural patterns of these regions are as interesting
as its geography. The people with typical costumes, folk dances, music and sports like polo and
buzkashi, provide the traveller an unforgettable experience. Nowhere is the world is such a great
concentration of high mountains, peaks, glaciers and passes except Pakistan. Of the 14 over 8,000
meters high peaks on earth, 04 occupy an amphitheater at the head of Baltoro glacier in the
Karakoram range. These are; K-2 (8,616 m, world’s second highest), Gasherbrum-I (8,068 m), Broad
Peak (8,047 m) and Gasherbrum-II (8,035 m). There is yet another which is equally great, Nanga
Parbat (8,126 m), located at the western most end of the Himalayas.
There are 157 peaks over 7,000 m and hundreds others over 6,000 meters. The Northern Pakistan
has some of the longest glaciers outside Polar region; Siachen (72 km), Hispar (61 km), Biafo (60
km), Baltoro (60 km) and Batura (64 km).

The Silk Route

For centuries, the Silk Route remained the main trading route between the South Asia and the Central
Asia. After the construction of the Karakoram Highway (KKH) in 1982 along the same alignment,
joining Pakistan with Chinese Muslim autonomous region of Xinjiang, the ancient trade link has been
revived. The KKH has provided a great opportunity for international travellers to explore the un-spoilt
natural beauty, unique culture and ancient traditions of the Northern Pakistan together with the other
Silk Road countries like China, Kirgizstan, Tajikistan, Kazakastan and Uzbekistan.

Indus Valley Civilization

The Indus Valley Civilization was at its peak from the 3rd till the middle of the 2nd millennium BC.
Discovered in 1922, Moenjodaro (in Sindh province) was once a metropolis of great importance,
forming part of the Indus Valley Civilization with Harrappa (discovered in 1923 in the southern
Punjab), Kot Diji (Sindh) and recently discovered Mehr Garh (Balochistan). Moenjodaro is considered
as one of the most spectacular ancient cities of the World. It had mud and baked bricks’ buildings, an
elaborate covered drainage system, a large state granary, a spacious pillared hall, a College of Priests,
a palace and a citadel. Harrappa, another major city of the Indus Valley Civilization, was surrounded

by a massive brick wall fortification. Other features and plan of the city were similar to that of
Moenjodaro. The Kot Diji culture is marked by well-made pottery and houses built of mud-bricks and
stone foundations. Mehr Garh, the oldest Civilization (7,000 B.C), remains of which were found in the
district Kachhi of Balochistan recently, was the pioneer of the Indus Valley Civilization. The evidence of
crop cultivation, animal husbandry and human settlements have been found here. The inhabitant of
Mehr Garh were living in mud-brick houses and learned to make pottery around 6,000 B.C.

Gandhara Civilization
Gandhara region had once been the hallowed centre of Buddhism, the cradle of the world famous
Gandhara sculpture, culture, art and learning. The archaeological remains found in Taxila, Peshawar,
Charsadda, Takht Bhai, Swat and rock carvings along the ancient Silk Road (KKH) have well recorded
the history of Gandhara. Lying in Haro river valley near Islamabad, Taxila, the main centre of
Gandhara, is over 3,000 years old. Taxila has attracted the attention of the great conqueror,
Alexander in 327 B.C., when it was a province of the powerful Achaemenian Empire. It later came
under the Maurian dynasty and reached a remarkable matured level of development under the great
Ashoka. Then appeared the Indo-Greek descendants of Alexander’s warriors and finally came the
most creative period of Gandhara. The Kushan dynasty was established in about 50 AD. During the
next 200 years, Taxila, Peshawar and Swat became a renowned centre of learning philosophy, art and
trade. Pilgrims and travellers were attracted to Gandhara from as far as China and Greece. In 5th
century AD, the White Huns snuffed out the last of the successive civilizations that held unbroken
sway in this region for several centuries.

Mughal & Early Muslim Heritage

Pakistan is a treasure-house of Muslim architecture. Lahore, the cultural hub of Pakistan, is situated
along the bank of Ravi river. The city has witnessed the rise and fall of many dynasties like Ghaznavis
(1021-1186 AD), Ghoris (1186-1202 AD) and Slaves (1206-1524 AD) before arrival of the Mughals.
The city was conquered by Babur of Ferghana (situated in Uzbekistan), the founder of the Mughal
dynasty (1524-1764 AD). All the important monuments like the Royal Fort and the Mosque, Wazir
Khan’s Mosque, Tombs of Jehangir, Asaf Khan, Noor Jehan and the Shalimar Gardens, Hiran Minar
etc., were constructed during this period. On the other hand, the shrines, mosques and forts located
in and around Multan and Bahawalpur are the master pieces of the early Muslim architecture. Some
important buildings are; Forts at Multan and Derawar (Bahawalpur), shrines of Shaikh Bahauddin
Zakaria, Shah Rukan-e-Alam, Hazrat Shams Tabrez at Multan and Tomb of Bibi Jiwandi at Uchh Sharif
near Bahawalpur. The tombs at Chaukundi, 27 km out of Karachi, the remains at Banbhore (64 km
from Karachi) and the necropolis of a million graves scattered over an area of 10 sq. km on Makli Hills
near Thatta together with the Shahjehan Mosque of Thatta, are exquisite specimens of Muslim
architecture, stone carving and glazed tile decorations.

Valleys of the Himalaya and the Hindukush

The Murree Hills and the Gallies, 55 kms from Islamabad, at an altitude of 2,286 meters are the most
popular summer resorts in Pakistan. With a perfect Himalayan atmosphere and equipped with all
modern facilities like good communication network, resort hotels, golf course and chair-lift/cable cars,
Murree & Gallies are a wonderful retreat from the hot weather of the plains in summer. A holiday in
Kaghan Valley, the Himalayan hide-away in the North-west-Frontier Province, is an un forgettable
experience. Its peaks, dales, lakes, water-falls, streams and glaciers are still in an unbelievable
pristine state. The valley extends for 155 kms rising from an elevation of 2,134 meters to its highest
point, the Babusar Pass, at 4,173 meters. The lush green valley of Swat, has a rich historical past.
This is “Udyana” (the garden) of ancient Hindi epics; the land of enthralling beauty, where Alexander
of Mecedonia fought and won some of his major battles. This is the “valley of the hanging chains” as
described by famous Chinese pilgrims, Huan Tsang and Fa-Hian in the 5th and 6th century. Chitral
valley is studded in the Hindukush mountains like a crown. With its high mountains, green valleys and
unique culture, Chitral has attracted mountaineers, trekkers, naturalists and anthropologists alike. One
of the major attractions of Chitral are the Kalash valleys - the home of the Kafir-Kalash or “wearers of
the black robes” a primitive pagan tribe.


Travel Within Pakistan

Pakistan’s national carrier, PIA serves 38 domestic airports with scheduled connections, including
multiple daily flights between major cities of Karachi, Quetta, Multan, Lahore, Islamabad and
Peshawar. Few private airlines, Shaheen, Aero Asia and Bhoja also serve Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad
and Islamabad.

PIA has daily flights linking the northern tourist regions of Gilgit, Skardu and Saidu Sharif with
Islamabad and Chitral with Peshawar. There is a weekly Air Safari over the northern mountains,
leaving every Saturday from Islamabad. All flights to the northern regions are subject to good

Pakistan has an extensive network of roads and highways, linking every big and large town with each
other. There are several highway like the Grand Trunk Road (G.T. Road) and newly built Motorway
between Lahore & Islamabad. Super Highway and National Highway linking Karachi with interior of
Sindh and Punjab. Indus Highway linking Peshawar with the Southern Punjab, RCD Highway linking
Karachi with Quetta and on to Taftan (Pak-Iran border) and the Karakoram Highway joining
Islamabad with Kashgar (China) through Abbottabad, Gilgit, Hunza and Khunjerab Pass. A landmark
has been achieved with the completion of Lahore-Islamabad Motorway, which has opened the remote
area of the Salt Range for visitors. New projects of Motorways are under construction, i.e., Islamabad-
Peshawar, Faisalabad-Pindi Bhatian and Karachi-Hyderabad etc.
You will find all types public transport in Pakistan. Coasters & hi-ace vans, taxis, auto-rickshaws, vans,
tongas (horse & carriage) and mini-buses are used for travelling within the city/town/village limits
whereas air-conditioned, non air-conditioned and deluxe types of buses, vans and coaches regularly
ply between major cities and tourist destinations.

Pakistan has over 12,700 kilometers of railways,. Main line runs from Karachi to Peshawar connecting
important tourist places like Moenjodaro, Sukkur, Bahawalpur, Multan, Lahore, Rawalpindi/ Islamabad,
Taxila and Peshawar. Another main line links Quetta with the rest of the country. There are several
daily trains running on these lines, however, the faster trains like Shalimar Express & night coach
(Lahore-Karachi) and Rail-car (Lahore-Rawalpindi) have more comfortable air-conditioned
compartments for travellers.

Health Information:
Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is required for travellers arriving from endemic zone. Vaccination
against Cholera, hepatitis, typhoid and polio is recommended. Malaria risk exists in Pakistan
throughout the year in areas below 2000 m. Chloroquine resistant P.falciparum is also reported. All
foreigners coming to stay in Pakistan for over one year, require AIDs-free certificate.

Pakistan offers a wide range of accommodation. Modern, well equipped chain hotels are:
Sheraton and Avari (at Karachi & Lahore)
Pearl Continental Hotels (at Lahore, Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Bhurban and Abbottabad)
Marriott (Karachi & Islamabad)
Holiday Inn (Karachi, Lahore, Multan and Islamabad)
Serena Hotels (Faisalabad, Quetta, Gilgit, Hunza and Saidu Sharif)
Pine Park Hotels (Balakot, Naran, Khannian & Shogran)
Green Hotels (Nathiagali, Abbottabad, Peshawar)
Shangrila Resorts & Hotels (Naran, Chilas, Skardu)
All these properties offer good services and facilities. A government tax/duty up to 20.5% is added to
the services at most hotels, except Northern Areas. There are official Dak Bungalows and Rest Houses
at most of the hill stations and valleys, maintained by either Provincial Forest Department, Public
Works Department (PWD) or by the local administration. Advance booking is strongly recommended.

Most major towns and all tourist attrations offer accommodation facilities ranging from the basic to
good standard.

PTDC Hotels & Motels:

Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) operates 02 hotels and 22 well furnished,
moderately priced motels located through out Pakistan.

Pakistan is a treasure house of exquisite handicrafts, made by a people who grew up to weave, to
pot, to work metals, wood and stone, to decorate, to build things small and great. Pottery here is a
living history, a traditional craft that became an art, with its origins going back to 9,000 years B.C.
Today, each region of Pakistan claims its own special jars and jugs, from sturdy terra-cotta to paper-
thin ceramics. In vivid colours of mustard yellow, deep green, brick red and sky blue. For those keen
on shopping, the prices are still quite reasonable. You will find yourself returning home with hand-
woven carpets, marble pieces, copper and brass items, woodwork, embroidered “Kurtas” and
“Khussas” and countless objects d’art.

Having inherited the culinary traditions of the Moghuls, the Turks, the Central Asians and the Iranians,
eating out in Pakistan is a rich and unique experience. Most local restaurants serve authentic Pakistani
dishes straight from the oven, with the sights and sounds of a bazaar in the background. Meat, fish
and vegetable dishes are seasoned with spices. Particularly palatable are the grills and barbecues;
Seekh-Kabab (minced meat grilled on skewer), Shami-Kabab (minced meat), Tikka (barbecued
mutton, beef or chicken) and Sajji (barbecued leg of lamb). Pakistani mutton and chicken curries and
the oriental rice dish called, Pullao, are also popular with natives and foreigners alike.

Import/Availability of Liquor
Import of liquor is not allowed, however, if somebody brings in some quantity by mistake, he/she
should declare it to the Customs Officer who shall detain the liquor against a receipt and return to the
tourist on his/her departure from Pakistan. Non-Muslim foreign tourists can purchase liquor from an
authorized vendor in Pakistan (usually a 5 or 4 star hotel) against a permit. This permit can be
obtained from the Excise and Taxation Officer of the respective area. Hotels having a liquor vending
license can also sell liquor to non-Muslim foreign tourists staying in the hotel. Please note that
drinking at public places is prohibited.

Import of Tourist Vehicles

A tourist may import a motor vehicle without duty under a Carnet-de-passage en dounne for period of
3 months against an undertaking before the Customs Officer at entry point that he/she will not
transfer the ownership of the vehicle during his/her stay in Pakistan.

Currency Regulations
There are no restrictions on import of any foreign currency in any quantity. Un-spent balance of
Pakistani rupees can be re-converted at the time of departure from the banks at exit points or from
any authorized money changers at any city.


Pakistan’s calendar features a great many Muslim religious festivals. Others are in memory of National
Heroes or commemorate political events in the nation’s recent history. Muslim festivals are celebrated
according to Muslim (Lunar) Calendar and may occur some 10 days earlier each successive Christian
Year. There are several folk festivals held regularly in every part of the country. Exact dates of such
festivals are fixed annually by the District Administration of the respective area, at least 01 month in
advance. Pakistan’s main festivals are listed below;

1. Shab-e-Barat:*
Religious festival celebrated on 14th of Shaaban, the 8th Islamic month. Prayers, fire works, exchange
of sweet dishes and visits.

2. Eid-ul-Fitr*:
Religious festival celebrating end of fasting month on 1st of Shawwal, the 10th month of Islamic
Calendar. Special prayer after sun-rise, exchange of sweet dishes, visits.

3. Sibi Festival: (Last week of February)

At Sibi (Balochistan). Traditional sports, handicrafts exhibition, folk music and dances.

4. Sindh Horse & Cattle Show: (Last week of February)

At Jacobabad (Sindh). Similar activities as in Sibi Festival.

5. Jashan-e-Larkana: (Last week of February)

At Larkana (Sindh). Traditional sports, exhibition of handicrafts, folk music and dances.

6. Nauroze: (21-23 March)

Celebrated only in Gilgit, Hunza, Skardu and Chitral. Polo, foot-ball, volley-ball and hockey matches,
folk dances and music.

7. Pakistan Day*: (23 March)

Commemorating the anniversary of Pakistan Resolution passed on March 23, 1940. Military parade at
provincial capitals and Islamabad.

8. Mela Chiraghan (Festival of lamps): (Last week of March)

Held for 01 week outside Shalimar Gardens, Lahore.

9. Horse & Cattle Show: (Last week of February) , Basant (Kite flying festival)
At Lahore. Local games, folk dances, music, cattle races and exhibition of local handicrafts. At Lahore
a kite flying festival to welcome Spring.

10. Jashan-e-Shikarpur: (In April for 01 week)

At Shikarpur, Sindh. Cultural activities, local sports and handicrafts exhibition.

11. Eid-ul-Azha*:
Religious festival commemorating the great sacrifice offered by Prophet Abraham. Celebrated on 10
Zilhaj, 12th month of Islamic Calendar. Collective prayers after sun set, sacrifice of goats, sheep, cows
or camels and distribution of meat among relatives, friends and poor.

12. Joshi or Chilimjusht: (mid May)

Kalash festival of welcoming spring, held in Kalash Valleys near Chitral. Folk dances, music and
exchange of dishes.

13. Shandur Polo Tournament: (fisrt week July)

At Shandur Pass near Chitral, on the highest polo ground in the world. Polo matches, folk music and

14. Utchal: (mid July)

A harvest festival, celebrated by Kalash people in Kalash Valleys, Chitral.

15. Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi*: (Ist week of July)

(Birthday of Prophet Hazrat Mohammad,p.b.u.h. on 12th of Rabi-ul-Awwal - the 3rd month of Islamic

16. Independence Day*: (14 August)

Meeting, processions, rallies, decorations and illustrations all over the country.

17. Defense of Pakistan Day: (06 September)

Parades and exhibitions of military equipment at Rawalpindi, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta and Karachi.
Visits to the war memorials. (No national holiday except Armed Forces)

18. Phool: (last week of September)
Held in Kalash Valleys near Chitral. Reaping grapes and walnuts, dancing and singing.

19. Lok Mela: (1st week of October, for one week)

Folk Festival held at Islamabad. Folk Music, songs, music contests, folk dances, craftsmen at work,
exhibition and sale of handicrafts. The festival presents a unique opportunity to watch the culture and
craft of the whole country at one place.

21. Chowmas: (mid October)

Held in Kalash Valleys near Chitral. Welcoming of winter with first snow-fall. Activities restrict to

22. Birthday of Allama Muhammad Iqbal, national Poet*. (09 November)

23. National Industrial Exhibition Islamabad: (Middle of November till Middle of December)
Exhibition and sale of Pakistan’s industrial products and handicraft items.

24. National Industrial Exhibition Lahore: (3rd week of November for 15 days)
Held at Fortress Stadium, Lahore. Exhibition and sale of industrial products and handicrafts of

25. National Horse & Cattle Show Lahore: (3rd week of February for 05 days )
Held at Fortress Stadium, Lahore. Cattle races, cattle dances, tent-pegging, tattoo show, folk music,
dances, bands, cultural floats and folk games.

26. Christmas and Birthday of Quaid-e-Azam*: (25 December)

*National Holidays

Is it safe to travel in Pakistan?

by Jill Worrall

New Zealand travel editor and writer

Common wealth Press Award finalist 1999 Multi travel award winner 1997-99

No country can totally guarantee the safety of its visitors - New Zealand can't, Pakistan can't. But the
reality is that travel in Pakistan is much safer than Western media reports might suggest. Watch
television news and the impression can be of nationwide violence and unrest - travel through Pakistan
and the impression is quite different. Sure, you will see more guns than you do in New Zealand and
some other western nations. But even though my last visit was during a potentially volatile time for
Pakistani politics I saw nothing to make me even the slightest bit afraid for my safety. All travel comes
with some element of risk - whether it be travel to another country or down to the road to the
supermarket. Certainly Pakistan has its hotspots at times and there are some volatile people living
there but this could be said of many other countries. Does anyone, for example, think twice about
travelling to the United States despite the number of gun massacres there? Or how many people
seriously thought about not visiting London during the times of IRA bombings? I would think very few.
The question of travel to Pakistan deserves to be treated in the same rational logical way people
weigh up the risks of travelling anywhere. And one of the main factors in weighing up Pakistan as a
destination is that tourists are not targets of violence. On the contrary they are welcomed and in my
experience, looked after exceptionally well. Visitors to Pakistan, are, almost without fail treated with
kindness, respect and incredible hospitality. If you take sensible precautions (small group travel,
especially for women is a good idea) respect local customs of behaviour and dress, the rewards from
travel to this exciting, beautiful, culturally rich and diverse nation will be stay with you forever.