Facts & Figuares, Pakistan
Observe four women friendly touristic resources of this country - archaeological sites, historic sites, nature and cultural diversity.
The picture shows Hiran Minar (meaning Deer Tower) located some 35 kms from Lahore. This was constructed in the 15th century by the Mughal Emperor Jehangir in the memory of his pet deer.
Fondest memory: 1. Using Peshawar (capital of North West Frontier Province) as centre, visited Swat Valley, which is located some 300 kms north-west of capital Islamabad. The narrow valley is over 175 kms long. It has great Buddhist sites at its southern entrance.
2. Using Karachi (capital of Sindh province) as centre, traveled on the Highways going from Karachi to Thatta to Hyderabad and then back to Karachi. We explored culture of beautiful Sindh province, several archaeological and historic sites, and lakes of international importance that were teeming with wildlife.
3. Using Islamabad (nation's capital) as centre, travelled to the hilly areas called Galliyat, visiting Ayubia National Park, Margallah Hills National Park, and sites of ancient Gandhara civilization in Taxila.
4. Using Lahore (capital of the Punjab province) as centre, traveled to Sahiwal, Burewalla, Jhang, Faisalabad, Mianwali, and Sheikhupura and then back to Lahore, seeing village life, some Mughal architecture, and tombs of the sufi-saints.
Some useful information is as under
ELECTRICITY : 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Round two- or three-pin plugs are in use.
RELIGION : Ninety-seven per cent Muslim, the remainder are Hindu or Christian.
LANGUAGE : Urdu is the national language. English is widely spoken. Regional languages include Punjabi, which is spoken by 48 per cent of the population, Pushto, Sindhi, Saraiki, and Baluchi. There are numerous local dialects.
Mobile Telephone : GSM 900 networks available. Main network providers include Warid, Telenor, Ufone, Paktel and Mobilink. Coverage is all over except some of Northern Areas*
Pakistan is a medium sized country spanning over 810,000 square kilometers from the extremes of the marshes Runn of Katch in south-east to the mountain range of Hindukush in the north-west.
The tourists should be able to understand that due to its size, it would never be possible to explore all its touristic resources in a short duration of time.
The size makes it slightly smaller than Germany, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Holland and Belgium put together.
For the USA, Pakistan would cover all the New England and mid-Atlantic States plus Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina. In a comparison with southern states, it would be slightly smaller than Texas and Louisiana combined. In yet another comparison with Western states, it would be bigger than California, Washington and Oregon put together.
A good starting place to find out more about Pakistan is the PTDC Website (this is the government tourism board) and can be found at:
Also, Pakistan's National airline - Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is useful to find flights into Pakistan (although many other international carriers fly into Karachi, Islamabad is more restricted for international flights - I only saw PIA, Emirates and British Airways). Anyway, PIA is at:
For trekking information, there are a multitude of trekking companies (Pakistani owned) however I trevlled with Adventure Travel http://www.adventure-touroperator.com While looking for a suitable comany I was also impressed by Nazir Sabir Expeditions http://www.nazirsabir.com (although i did not travel with them)
I did some research via the Lonely Planet 'Thorn Tree' bulleting boards - however the people posting can get a bit nasty they seemed more 'up hemselves' than the VT community, but they have more visibility if you are searching for some specific info:
PAKISTAN IS ONE OF THE BEAUTIFUL COUNTRIES. ITS SO MUCH DIVERSE. A LOT OF LANGUAGES, CUSTOMS, DRESSES, CULTURE AND DIFFERENT WAYS OF LIFE MAKE IT UNIQE.
PAKISTAN IS DIDVED INTO 4 REGION OR PROVINCES.
4- SARHAD OR NWFP
EACH PROVINCE HAS ITS OWN CULTURE. LANGUAGE, DRESS, WAY OF LIVING AND PEOPLE ALL HAS THEIR OWN SPECIAL FLAVOUR.
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN PAKISTAN, YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO KNOW THE PAKISTANI CULTURE AND NATION UNTILL AND UNLESS YOU HAVE NOT SEEN ALL THE PROVINCES.
Fondest memory: I BORN HARE. I LOVE IT. AND THIS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THOUGHT FOR ME, WHEN EVER I REMEBER THAT I HAVE BORN IN A LAND WHERE THERE IS SO MUCH CHANCES ARE AVILABLE FOR FUN, RELAXATION AND ADVENTURE.
Favorite thing: Pakistan is one of the most scenic country in the world. Pakistan is giften with almost everything, Mountains, Plateaus, deserts and fartile land. People are helpful and hospitality is just wonderful. My journey through Pakistan was bumpy but it was worth each and every penny that i send there. For only $2, you can have breakfast,lunch and dinner. One of the best thing that i like about Pakistan is the things are so cheap here. I bought a Levis jeans for only $5 campared to $75 in Canada. Apart from the beauty of Pakistan, you also see the way that people live here. It was a eye opening experience for me of how people live outside Canada. I would surly recomend this place to all.
color='green'face=fidelionmn'size='5'Islamic Republic of Pakistan
President: Gen. Pervez Musharraf (2001)
Area: 310,401 sq mi (803,940 sq km)1
Population (2001 est.): 144,616,639 (average annual growth rate: 2.2%); birth rate: 31.2/1000; infant mortality rate: 80.5/1000; density per sq mi: 466
Capital (1981 census): Islamabad, 201,000
Largest cities: Karachi (2000 est.), 12,100,000 (metro. area); Lahore (2000 est.), 6,350,000 (metro. area); Faisalabad (Lyallpur), 1,920,000; Rawalpindi, 920,000; Hyderabad, 795,000
Monetary unit: Pakistan rupee
Principal languages: Punjabi 48%, Sindhi 12%, Siraiki (a Punjabi variant) 10%, Pashtu 8%, Urdu (official) 8%, Balochi 3%, Hindko 2%, Brahui 1%, English, Burushaski, and others
Ethnicity/race: Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashtun (Pathan), Baloch, Muhajir (immigrants from India and their descendants)
Religions: Islam 97%, Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Parsi
Literacy rate: 35% (1990)
Economic summary GDP/PPP (1999 est.): $282 billion; per capita $2,000. Real growth rate: 3.1%. Inflation: 6%. Unemployment: 7% (FY98/99 est.). Arable land: 27%. Agriculture: cotton, wheat, rice, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables; milk, beef, mutton, eggs. Labor force: 38.6 million (1999); note: extensive export of labor, mostly to the Middle East, and use of child labor; agriculture, 44%; industry, 17%; services, 39% (1999 est.). Industries: textiles, food processing, beverages, construction materials, clothing, paper products, shrimp. Natural resources: land, extensive natural gas reserves, limited petroleum, poor quality coal, iron ore, copper, salt, limestone. Exports: $8.4 billion (f.o.b., 1999): cotton, fabrics, and yarn, rice, other agricultural products. Imports: $9.8 billion (f.o.b., 1999): machinery, petroleum, petroleum products, chemicals, transportation equipment, edible oils, grains, pulses, flour. Major trading partners: U.S., Hong Kong, UK, Germany, UAE, Japan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia.
Communications: Telephones: main lines in use: 2.861 million (March 1999); mobile cellular: 158,000 (1998). Radio broadcast stations: AM 27, FM 1, shortwave 21 (1998). Radios: 13.5 million (1997). Television broadcast stations: 22 (plus seven low-power repeaters) (1997). Televisions: 3.1 million (1997). Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 26 (1999).
Transportation: Railways: total: 8,163 km (1996 est.). Highways: total: 247,811 km; paved: 141,252 km (including 339 km of expressways); unpaved: 106,559 km (1998 est.). Ports and harbors: Karachi, Port Muhammad bin Qasim. Airports: 118 (1999 est.).
International disputes: status of Kashmir with India; water-sharing problems with India over the Indus River (Wular Barrage).
1. Excluding Kashmir and Jammu.
Major sources and definitions
Facts for the Traveller
Visas: Visas are required by nationals from most European and English-speaking countries. A Pakistan visa allows you to enter the country up to six months from the date you get it, and stay up to three months from the date you enter. However, if you stay longer than 30 days you are required to register at a foreigners' registration office; these are in the larger towns and cities.
Health risks: dengue fever, hepatitis A, malaria and, in rural areas, Japanese encephalitis.
Time: GMT/UTC plus five hours
Electricity: 220V, 50 Hz
Weights & measures: metric (see the conversion table.)
Tourism: 424,000 visitors
Money & Costs
Currency: Pakistani rupee
Budget meal: US$2-3
Moderate restaurant meal: US$3-8
Top-end restaurant meal: US$5-10
Budget room: US$4-5
Moderate hotel: US$10-15
Top-end hotel: US$22 and up
By staying in hostels or dorms and eating like a local you can get by on as little as US$10-15 a day. If,however, you were looking for a moderate touch of luxury you could spend as much as $30-40 a day which could get you accommodation that included a satellite T.V., a desk, a balcony, and a spotlessly clean bathroom. As in any place you can spend as much as you like to live in the lap of luxury and stay in swanky hotels. It's worth noting that rooms and food are cheaper in the north than in the south.
Both travellers cheques and cash are easy to change throughout the country, but commissions on cheques can be high. Apart from top-end hotels most places won't accept credit cards as payment although you can often use them for cash advances at western banks. Facilities for validation seem better for Visa then Mastercard. Occasionally a tattered note will be firmly refused as legal tender, and often in the smaller towns the appearance of a 1000 or 500 rupee note will cause consternation and an inability to provide change so make sure you get some smaller notes when buying your rupees.
Baksheesh isn't so much a bribe as a way of life in Pakistan. It can apply to any situation and is capable of opening all sorts of doors, both literal and metaphorical. Anything from a signature on a document to fixing a leaking tap can be acquired through the magic of baksheesh. Most top-end hotels will automatically add a 5-10% service charge to your bill so any extra tipping is entirely up to you. Taxi drivers routinely expect 10% of the fare, and railway porters charge an officially-set Rs 7. The only time that a gratuity might not be welcome is in the rural areas where it runs counter to Islamic obligation to be hospitable.
If baksheesh is a way of life, bargaining is a matter of style, particularly in the many Pakistani bazaars. Unlike the western hesitancy for bargaining, shopkeepers in Pakistani love to bargain as long as it's done with style and panache. Bargaining usually begins with an invitation to step inside for a cup of tea followed by a little bit of small talk, a casually expressed interest by yourself in a particular item, a way-too-high price mentioned by the seller, a way-too-low counter offer by yourself and eventually, after much comic rolling of eyes, a handshake and mutual satisfaction for both parties. Bargaining should always be accompanied by smiles, good humour and an ability not to get fixated on driving the price into the ground.
When to Go
The best time for travelling to Pakistan depends on which part of the country you intend to visit. Generally speaking the southern parts of Pakistan including Sind, Baluchistan, Punjab and southern NWFP are best visited in the cooler months between November and April. After that it gets uncomfortably hot. The northern areas like Azad Jammu Kashmir, and northern NWFP are best seen during May to October before the area becomes snowbound. The weather may be a little stormy during this time but the mountain districts are usually still accessible.
Try and avoid Pakistan during Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting which usually occurs sometime during the months of December to early January. You may find yourself involuntarily joining in the fast because activity is kept to a minimum and food is hard to find during daylight hours.
The security situation in Pakistan deteriorated through 1997, with areas previously considered safe experiencing the same sort of violence and crime as in the long-troubled Sind region. As well as the danger of being caught up in sectarian skirmishes, travellers have been the specific target of violence in Karachi and Lahore.
Sind, the region in the south of Pakistan which includes Karachi, was known as the 'Unhappy Valley' or the 'Land of Uncertainties' by ancient travellers. Switch to the present day and news of curfews, foreign kidnappings and atrocities between the two main ethnic groups - Sindhis, the province's indigenous inhabitants, and the Mohajir, Muslim refugees from India - suggests its former name is still not out of place. With robbery, smuggling and gun-running amongst Sind's biggest industries, the province remains a highly dangerous place to visit.
Travel to Sind as well as to the North-West Frontier Province, Punjab and Baluchistan should be undertaken with caution and only after consulting a national foreign affairs department prior to departure or a consulate in Karachi for current information.
Pakistan's neighbours are an eclectic and ornery bunch: Iran to the south-west; Afghanistan to the west and north; China to the north-east; and India stretching down its eastern side. The southern coast abuts the Arabian Sea. The country is composed of towering peaks in the north (including the second-highest mountain in the world, 8611m/28,245ft K2), dry and scrubby mountains in the west, an inhospitable plateau in the south-west, barren deserts in the south-east and alluvial plains everywhere else. These plains, constituting about a third of the country, are Pakistan's 'heart', where most of its people live and most of its food is grown. Coursing through all this tumult is the Indus River, which falls from Tibet then travels 2500km (1550mi) south before emptying through an immense delta into the Arabian Sea.
Natural fauna in Pakistan's lowlands is patchy - mostly scattered clumps of grass and stunted woodlands. However, as the landscape rises, there are quite large coniferous forests and carpeted slopes of multicoloured flowers in the northern mountains. Fauna includes bear, snow leopard, deer and jackal. Pakistan's 800km (500mi) of coastline teems with shark, shellfish and sea turtle, while the Indus delta is home to the marsh crocodile.
Pakistan has three seasons: cool (October through February); hot (March through June); and wet (July through September). There are, however, big regional variations. In the south, the cool season brings dry days and cool nights, while the northern mountains get drizzle and plummeting night-time temperatures. The hot season means suffocatingly hot and humid conditions in the south but pleasant temperatures northwards. During the wet season, the tail end of the monsoon dumps steady rain mostly in the narrow belt of the Punjab from Lahore to Islamabad. But further north, the high mountains block all but the most determined clouds, which means relatively little rain falls there (budding trekkers please take note).
The first inhabitants of Pakistan were Stone-Age peoples in the Potwar Plateau (north-west Punjab). They were followed by the sophisticated Indus Valley (or Harappan) civilisation which flourished between the 23rd to 18th centuries BC. Semi-nomadic peoples then arrived, settled down, and by the 9th century BC were blanketed across northern Pakistan-India. Their Vedic religion was the precursor of Hinduism, and their rigid division of labour an early caste system.
In 327 BC Alexander the Great came over the Hindu Kush to finish off the remnants of the defeated Persian empire. Although his visit was short, some tribes tell picturesque legends in which they claim to be descended from Alexander and his troops. Later came the heyday of the Silk Route, a period of lucrative trade between China, India and the Roman empire. The Kushans were at the centre of the silk trade and established the capital of their Gandhara kingdom at Peshawar. By the 2nd century AD they had reached the height of their power, with an empire that stretched from eastern Iran to the Chinese frontier and south to the Ganges River. The Kushans were Buddhist and under King Kanishka built thousands of monasteries and stupas. Soon Gandhara became both a place of trade and of religious study and pilgrimage - the Buddhist 'holy' land.
The Kushan empire had unravelled by the 4th century and was subsequently absorbed by the Persian Sassanians, the Gupta dynasty, Hephthalites from Central Asia, and Turkic and Hindu Shahi dynasties. The next strong central power was the Moghuls who reigned during the 16th and 17th centuries. A succession of rulers introduced sweeping reforms, ended Islam's supremacy as a state religion, encourged the arts, built fanciful houses and, in a complete volte-face, returned the state to Islam once again.
In 1799 a young and crafty Sikh named Ranjit Singh was granted governorship of Lahore. He proceeded over the next few decades to parlay this into a small empire, fashioning a religious brotherhood of 'holy brothers' into the most formidable army on the subcontinent. In the course of his rule, Ranjit had agreed to stay out of British territory - roughly south-east of the Sutlej River - if they in turn left him alone. But his death in 1839 and his successor's violation of the treaty plunged the Sikhs into war. The British duly triumphed, annexed Kashmir, Ladakh, Baltistan and Gilgit and renamed them the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Thus, they created a buffer state to Russian expansionism in the north-west and, unwittingly, what would transpire to be the subcontinent's most unmanageable curse. A second war against the British in 1849 brought the empire to an end, and the annexation of the Punjab and the Sind in the 1850s; these were ceded to the British Raj in 1857.
National self-awareness began growing in British India in the latter stages of the 19th century. In 1906 the Muslim League was founded to demand an independent Muslim state but it wasn't until 24 years later that a totally separate Muslim homeland was proposed. Around the same time, a group of England-based Muslim exiles coined the name Pakistan, meaning 'Land of the Pure'. After violence escalated between Hindus and Muslims in the mid-1940s, the British were forced to admit that a separate Muslim state was unavoidable. The new viceroy, Lord Louis Mountbatten, announced that independence would come by June 1948.
British India was dutifully carved up into a central, largely Hindu region retaining the name India, and a Muslim East (present-day Bangladesh) and West Pakistan. The announcement of the boundaries sparked widespread killings and one of the largest migrations of people in history. Kashmir (properly The State of Jammu and Kashmir), though, wanted no part of India or Pakistan. When India and Pakistan sent troops into the recalcitrant state, war erupted between the two countries. In 1949 a UN-brokered cease-fire gave each country a piece of Kashmir to administer but who will ultimately control it still remains unclear.
Mohammed Ali Jinnah, a prime mover of Muslim independence, became Pakistan's first governor general but died barely a year into his new country's independence. His deputy and friend Liaqat Ali Khan replaced him but was assassinated three years later. What followed was a muddle of quarelling governor generals and prime ministers and a severe economic slump. In 1956 Pakistan finally produced a constitution and became an Islamic republic. West Pakistan's provinces were amalgamated into a single entity similar to that in East Pakistan. Two years later President Iskander Mirza - fed up with the bickering and opportunism that pervaded Pakistani politics - abrogated the constitution, banned political parties and declared martial law, a state Pakistan has been in, in one form or another, ever since.
The next two decades saw Pakistan racked by further war with India over Kashmir, civil war between the east and west, and the declaration of Bangladeshi independence, another war with India, and the execution of one of its most charismatic prime ministers, Z A Bhutto. In 1977 Bhutto's chief of staff, General Muhammad Zia ul-Haq, took control, insinuated himself successfully with the USA (thereby gaining valuable foreign aid) and was widely feted as a hero of the free world. His death in an air crash in 1988 opened the way for Bhutto's daughter, Benazir to claim victory in the next election, the first elected woman to head a Muslim country. She was toppled soon after but was voted back into power in 1993.
Benazir Bhutto travelled widely, trumpeting Pakistan's investment potential and casting herself, and her country, as role models for the modern Muslim state. Her place in the hearts of her own people though was endangered by a culture of official corruption. She was dismissed as Prime Minister in November 1996 by the president Farooq Leghari. Elections held in early 1997 returned her opponent Nawaz Sharif. After India conducted nuclear tests in May 1998, Pakistan responded in kind two weeks later, detonating five nuclear devices in south-western Baluchistan. International condemnation was widespread, and sanctions put intense strain on the country's economy.
It was the 'ruined economy' that General Pervaiz Musharraf cited as the main reason for a bloodless coup that took place in October 1999. The military stepped in, deposed Nawaz Sharif and then took control of most of Pakistan's institutions. Musharraf issued a thinly-veiled warning to India not to meddle in their internal affairs and tension over nuclear capabilities between the two countries, and the dispute over Kashmir, was screwed up a notch.
GDP: US$270 billion
GDP per head: US$2000
Annual growth: 5%
Major industries: textiles, food processing, beverages, construction materials, clothing, paper products, shrimp, cotton, wheat, rice, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables, milk, beef, mutton, eggs
Major trading partners: EU, US, Hong Kong, Japan, China
The pleasures of Pakistan are old: Buddhist monuments, Hindu temples, Islamic palaces, tombs and pleasure grounds, and widely spaced Anglo-Mogul Gothic mansions - some in a state of dereliction which makes their grandeur even more emphatic. Scuplture is dominated by Graeco-Buddhist friezes, and crafts by ceramics, jewellery, silk goods and engraved woodwork and metalwork.
Even Pakistan's flotillas of vintage Bedford buses and trucks, mirror-buffed and chrome-sequinned, are dazzling works of art. Traditional dances are lusty and vigorous; music is either classical, folk or devotional; and the most patronised literature is a mix of the scholastic and poetic. Cricket is Pakistan's greatest sports obsession and national players are afforded hero status - unless, of course, they proselytise young and wealthy English women, then marry them.
Nearly all Pakistanis are Muslim and Islam is the state religion. Reminders of their devotion are many: the muezzin's call to prayer from the mosques; men sprawled in prayer in fields, shops and airports; and veiled women in the streets. Christians are the largest minority, followed by Hindus and Parsees, descendants of Persian Zoroastrians. Note that dress codes are strictly enforced - to avoid offence invest in a shalwar qamiz - a long, loose, non-revealing garment worn by both men and women.
Pakistani food is similar to that of northern India, with a dollop of Middle Eastern influence thrown in for good measure. This means menus peppered with baked and deep-fried breads (roti, chapattis, puri, halwa and nan), meat curries, lentil mush (dhal), spicy spinach, cabbage, peas and rice. Street snacks - samosas and tikkas (spiced and barbecued beef, mutton or chicken) - are delicious, while a range of desserts will satisfy any sweet tooth. The most common sweet is barfi (it pays to overlook the name), which is made of dried milk solids and comes in a variety of flavours. Though Pakistan is officially 'dry', it does brew its own beer and spirits which can be bought (as well as imported alcohol) from specially designated bars and top-end hotels.
Nationwide celebrations include Ramadan, a month of sunrise-to-sunset fasting which changes dates every year (as the Islamic calendar differs from the Gregorian one); Eid-ul-Fitr, two to three days of feasting and goodwill that marks the end of Ramadan; Eid-ul-Azha, when animals are slaughtered and the meat shared between relatives and the needy; and Eid-Milad-un-Nabi, which celebrates Mohammad's birthday.
Pakistan is a land of majestic & high mountains, rivers and beautiful land scapes. The world three highest mountain ranges, The Himalayas, The Great Karakurrm and Hindu Kush lies in Pakistan. The world 2nd highest mountain K2 is here.Pakistan has eight world higest mountains and 36 mountains which are above 8000 meters. Culturally this land is very rich, the 400 BC civilization Gandhara and the city of dead Monjodaro are here. Explore the Buddaha's civilization in this land. There are many many more which you have to explore.
There are many five star hotels in every major city of Pakistan, restaurants like KFC, PIZZA HUT, MCDONALS
any lot of more are available.if you are intereted to visit Pakistan let me know first....... why? becase I am a tour operator, and we are Pakistan's leading Tour Operator's Company (INDUS WORLD (PVT)LTD).
If you want any information about Pakistan regarding travel you can contact me on this e-mail address email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
Fondest memory: People of Pakistan are very friendly,you will find 11 million friendly faces here. The natural beauty which is here, you will never find it any where in the world.
THE IMAGES ARE NOT YET AVAILABLE BUT WITHIN A FEW DAYS SEE THE PICTURES OF PAKISTAN.