|Currency||Pakistani rupee (PKR)|
|Area||total: 803,940 sq km |
land: 778,720 sq km
water: 25,220 sq km
|Population||147,663,429 (July 2002 est.)|
|Language||Urdu (official) 8%, Punjabi 48%, Sindhi 12%, Siraiki 10%, Pashtu 8%, , Balochi 3%, Hindko 2%, Brahui 1%, Burushaski, and other 8%|
|Religion||Muslim 97% (Sunni 77%, Shi'a 20%), Christian, Bah'ai, Jewish, and other 3%|
Pakistan (Urdu: ???????) is a populous country in South Asia. Located along the Arabian Sea, it is surrounded by Afghanistan to the west and northwest, Iran to the southwest, India to the east, and China to the northeast. It is strategically located astride the ancient trade routes of the Khyber and Bolan Pass between Asia and Europe.
- Administrative divisions
- 4 provinces, 1 territory*, and 1 capital territory**;
- Federally Administered Tribal Areas*
- Islamabad Capital Territory**
- North-West Frontier Province
- The Pakistani-administered portion of the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region includes Azad Kashmir and the Northern Areas.
Cities & Towns
Some important Pakistani cities are:
- Lahore (famous for its mughal architecture and monuments)
- Sialkot - (Famous for its sports industry)
- Faisalabad - (Famous for its textiles industry)
- Malam jabba ski resort in Swat
- Lake Saif-ul-mulk in Naran
- Nathia gali
- Baltit fort in Karimabad, Hunza
- Gilgit Valley
- Chitral Valley
- Hunza Valley
- Ziarat Valley
- Khyber pass
- Holy places of Khalsa
- Marine Turtles & Mangrove Forests
- Keenjhar & Haleji Lakes
- Wetlands & Historical Sites Of Salt Range
- Archaeological Sites
- Taxila: Gandhara civilization
- Takht-i-Bahi: Buddhist Monastery
- Indus Valley civilizations: MohenjoDaro, Harappa
- Butkara Stupa
- Mountain peaks
- Nanga Parbat
- Broad peak
- Ultar peak
- Trich mir
- National Parks
- Kirthar National Park
- Deosai National Park
- Margalla Hills National Park
- Ayubia National Park
- Chitral Gol National Park
Mostly hot, dry desert; temperate in northwest; arctic in north. Flooding along the Indus after heavy rains (July and August)
Flat Indus plain in east; mountains in north and northwest; Balochistan plateau in west. Experiences frequent earthquakes, occasionally severe, especially in north and west.
- Highest point
- K2 (Mt. Godwin-Austen) 8,611 m
Prior to the 1900's the area of Pakistan was the area from which the Muslims ruled over Central and Southern Asia for over a thousand years. Initially where the Arabs landed by ship, soon it would be where the Persians would base their rule. Today Pakistan is made up of people from various races including Arabs from after the Islamic expeditions, Persians from Bukhara and Samarkand, and the Hindus who were converted to Islam.
The official name of Pakistan was used after the separation of British India in 1947. The once Islamic Empire was divided into the Islamic Republic of Pakistan (with two sections West and East) and largely Hindu India. A third war between these countries in 1971 resulted in East Pakistan seceding and becoming the separate nation of Bangladesh. A dispute over the state of Kashmir is ongoing.
Pakistan is a nuclear weapons state and conducted tests in 1998.
Almost all leaders of Pakistan after Muhammad Ali Jinnah have been accused of corruption and the country has since been unable to restore any of the prestige the Muslims once had.
Official Tourism Web site (http://www.tourism.gov.pk/)
Don't even think of getting a visa in the consulate in Istanbul. If you don't work in Turkey they send you away. It is maybe possible in Ankara.
Visas are easier for people of Pakistani origin living overseas.
Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi are the main gateways to Pakistan by air. Quaid-e-Azam International Airport in Karachi is served by many international airlines, including Swiss, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Turkish Airlines, and PIA. (http://www.karachiairport.com/)
Though Islamabad is probably the best way to ease yourself into Pakistan. It is much safer than Karachi or Lahore and is quite modernized compared to the latter.
Do not go by train in Pakistan. The railways still need much more improvement before they can be considered safe to Western standards.
You can negotiate taxis. Be patient, and if you have any doubts, do not get in the car. Travel in a group for safety.
The buses are the best way to get around. The fare is reasonable, it is safe, and the ride is much more comfortable than the other means available.
Maybe for fun or sight seeing, not for a means of transportation though.
In the past, getting around was a very hectic task, but nowadays it's very easy because of the advent of motorways and many private airlines.
It depends who you are talking to.
English is understood by the elites who attend English medium schools or universities. You'll have to ask to see who knows.
Urdu is the national language and is spoken throughout Pakistan as the lingua franca of the masses. In addition to Urdu most Pakistani's speak their regional language or dialect such as Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashto, Baluchi, Seraiki, Burushaski etc.
To educated individuals, a few words of literary Urdu will get you into a discussion of politics, religion, or the beauty of the world. If you wish to express yourself with the beauty that the poets of old once did, Urdu is a must.
You can buy almost anything in Pakistan. Karachi and Lahore have many western style shopping centres stocked with everything imaginable.
Pakistani food mainly consists of various kinds kabobs eaten with either flatbread or rice. Food tends to be either mild or very spicy depending on where you are. So state your preference before beginning to eat. In general, most of the same food you can find in the highest quality restaurants/hotels there is available commonly in the markets (but European-style food is generally reserved for the former).
The types of flatbread (collectively referred to as Nan) are:
A soft and thick bread that often requires special ovens and cannot be properly made on home stoves. It is recognized by its larger, white exterior.
A homemade bread that doesn't have as much flavor as naan. It is a cheap alternative that is ready in minutes.
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.
- Sheer Mal
This is a slightly sweetened, lightly oiled bread that has waffle-like squares punched in it. It is often considered the most desireable bread and is a delicacy to most people. Often paired with nihari.
Much like the sheer mal but with a puffed-up ring around it. This is generally jsut as good as the sheer mal but easier to eat liquidy shorba with.
As you might have noticed, Nan is usually used to pick up liquid and soft foods like shorba and beans. Utensils are not commonly used during meals in Pakistan except to serve dishes (unless someone is eating rice and would like to be polite or is unpracticed eating it by hand). Attempting to cut a naan with a knife and drink shorba with a spoon may elicit some amusement around you. Watching others may help.
Types of kabobs (mainly made of Beef or Lamb) are:
- Seekh Kabob (??? ????)
A long skewer of Beef mixed with herbs and seasonings.
- Shami Kabob (???? ????)
A short skewer of Beef, softer than seekh kabobs.
- Chapli Kabob (???? ????)
A spicy round kabob which is a speciality of Peshawar.
- Chicken Kabob (??? ????)
A popular kabob that is found both with bone and without.
- Lamb Kabob (????? ??? ????)
The all lamb meat kabob is usually served as cubes.
Other popular dishes include:
- Roasted Chicken (whole) (??? ?????)
A whole chicken roasted. Very famous around Pakistan. You'll see them on the rotisserie while driving on Lahore streets.
- Briyani (??????)
A dish with mixed pieces of chicken and rice. It smells nice from the saffron and other seasonings added.
- Chicken Tikka
Baked or roasted chicken with a spicy exterior. Looks like a huge, red chicken leg and thigh. For all meat lovers. Is available most anywhere.
Thick souplike mix of tiny chunks of meat, lentils and wheat grains.
There are too many shorbas, or sauces, to enumerate. However, you should know of the most common ones.
Yellow(plain) or brown(slightly sour) lentil "soup". Usually unspiced. Common to all economic classes.
- Aloo Gobi
Potatoes and cauliflower. Cooked so that both are soft and breakable with finger pressure.
Okra, Can be bitter...
- X + ki sabzi
A vegetarian mixture with 'X' as the main ingredient.
- 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).
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.
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. Hard to eat.
Desserts Enjoy a variety; ice cream can be found in an abundance of flavors such as the traditional pistachio flavoured Kulfi. Falooda (?????) is tasty rosewater desert. 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.
Tap water is not fit for drinking unless you have lived there and drank it for a long time (your body will not be used to the local organisms and parasites). Ask for bottled water wherever possible, and avoid anything cold that might have water in it. See Stay Healthy for details.
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.
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/yoghurt shops serve lassi. Ask for meethi lassi for a sweet yoghurt drink.
Hotels or mahmankhane (????? ????) are usually found around busy transportation hubs like bus stations. Don't be fooled by an impressive lobby. See the room. Check the beds. The toilets. The lights. The windows etc.
Many Pakistani companies are looking for Sales representives and usually all manner of companies will be happy to speak to a well dressed Westerner about business.
Many tourists are known to buy leather goods and other curios in Pakistan sell them in Goa India or somehow get them shipped back to the West.
Otherwise your best way of working is contact the numerous Aid agencies that work out of Peshawar. Don't go to Peshawar without a contact or a plan.
Outside the cities and some regions of each city, travel in groups that include locals. In the unwesternized parts of each city (the posh, westernized parts are obvious: they have better roads and larger homes), travel in groups and dress conservatively. Stay with locals who like you.
Don't let safety factors stop you from visiting Pakistan. It's much safer than you hear, and most people are rather welcoming and honest.
Avoid tap water! Take every precaution to drink only boiled, filtered or bottled water. Tap water is known to contain many impurities. Also beware when drinking milk--don't drink it fresh from the milk carrier very often; boil and cool it. Non-pasteurized dairy can spread tuberculosis.
In the summer it gets very hot. Be careful to stay hydrated.
Some foods may be quite spicy for western tastes! Always notify your host, cook or waiter if you are intolerant of spice.
Tuberculosis is common in some regions. Be very careful, very careful around people with a hacking cough.
Pakistanis pride themselves on their tradition of hospitality to guests (Mehmanawazi). Just a greeting of Salam aleikum will get you far in endearing yourself to people. If you are travelling outside the big cities like Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad it is advisable to learn some basic Urdu or a regional language.
Do not make silly jokes about religion, women, sex, or alcohol. You will cause offence and it is something you're really ill advised to do.
Just respect and observe. Pakistan is a conservative country and it is advisable for women to wear long skirts or pants in public (Pakistani women wear the traditional shalwar kameez). Dress codes for men are more lax although they should refrain from wearing shorts in public.
- Disputes - international
- armed stand-off with India over the status and sovereignty of Kashmir continues; dispute with India over the terminus of Rann of Kutch prevents extension of a maritime boundary; water-sharing problems with India persist over the Indus River (Wular Barrage); close ties with Pashtuns in Afghanistan make long border difficult to control
- Illicit drugs
- opium poppy cultivation practically eliminated; key transit point for Southwest Asian heroin bound for Western markets; Afghan narcotics continue to transit Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Balochistan Province, and Karachi; financial crimes related to drug trafficking, terrorism, corruption, and smuggling remain problems
- Focal point of Islamic terrorism
- Al-Quaeda and Taliban have strong local support especially in FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) areas. Western travellers and journalists are at highest threat, esp those adhering to Jewish or Hindu religious beliefs
|This article is still a stub and needs your attention. Plunge forward and help it grow!|