The Guide To Etiquette In Pakistan

Every culture throughout the world has a unique system of beliefs, social codes, and ritual practices. We use these customs to organize our lives, define our values, and live in harmony with our natural surroundings. Some of them we hold sacred, others we enact simply for the sake of tradition, and still others we practice just for fun. For many, discovering these local customs and learning their purpose is one of the most profound joys of travelling. It opens windows onto other ways of life and sheds light onto our own cultural practices, which we all-too-often take for granted. But inadvertently violating foreign social codes can also provoke awkwardness, shame, and even danger for travellers. So it is important to take time to learn about the places you plan to visit, making a call of your own on what is right is not the right etiquette. Of course, nothing can replace the experience of learning about other cultures first-hand; but a little research into local etiquette goes a long way toward making your trip a bit easier.

Religion

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In most countries, the primary source of social etiquette is religion. Pakistan is no exception. Although the country is comprised of a rich diversity of ethnicities–including Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashtun, Baluch, and Muhajir peoples the overwhelming majority of the population (about 97%) practices Islam. So most social etiquette in Pakistan revolves around Islamic doctrine. Perhaps the most obvious manifestation of this is the conservative dress seen throughout the region. Wearing shorts or exposed shoulders is generally frowned upon and discouraged, especially when done by women. Visitors should also understand that most Muslims consider alcohol sinful, and that PDA between couples is quite taboo in the country.

Time

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Travelers to Pakistan should also be aware that Friday is a holy day in the Islamic world, and most shops and stores will be closed. Likewise, society is significantly affected during the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims can only work 6 hours per day and must fast from dawn till dusk (this includes gum chewing and smoking cigarettes). During this month, don’t be surprised when you aren’t offered tea during home visits and business meetings.

Eating

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Pakistanis are also an extremely family oriented society, and those doing business in the country should know that nepotism is seen as a positive thing; because it means working with those you know and can trust. Because women are carefully guarded against all potentially negative influences, it is considered rude to ask anyone in Pakistan about their wife, daughter, or other female family member. Also, Pakistanis highly revere their elders and look to them in all important decision making matters. This means elders are offered the choicest cuts of meat during meals, always served first, and that no one is allowed to begin eating before they do. (When eating remember to only use the right hand.)

Social Status

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In general, Pakistani social interaction tends to be quite formal. You should always use surnames and titles when addressing others, and persist in doing so until asked to use first names. When giving gifts, always do so with two hands, and don’t expect the recipient to open it immediately. If a man must give a gift to a woman, he should say it is from his mother, sister, or wife.

No matter what country you happen to be visiting, the best policy for travellers is to always pay close attention to what the locals are doing, and act accordingly. In most cases, people understand and will not take offence if you happen to make a mistake or violate a custom. But taking an active interest in the local ways of life is a great way to show respect, learn about new cultures, and avoid misunderstandings. As such, it should be a top priority for every traveller.

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Many thanks to the team at Dialtosave.co.uk who helped produce this etiquette guide to Pakistan. The team specialise in providing cheap calls to Pakistan and know the culture well. If you pick up any new etiquette tips, let us know!

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Author: Channel Voyager

Channel Voyager is a premium travel blog, where you can read some of the latest tips and news regarding some of the most popular destinations in Europe, Asia, North & South America, Africa, Australia and even the Antarctic!

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