Pakistan  (Urdu: پاکستان) is a 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 passes between Asia and Europe.
The history of Pakistan traces back to the beginnings of human life in South Asia. Pakistan is home to the Indus Valley civilization, which is amongst the oldest in the world. Prior to the 1900's the area of Pakistan was the area from which the Muslims ruled over Central and Southern Asia for over 300 years.Today Pakistan is made up of people from various races including Arabs from after the Islamic expeditions, Persians from Bukhara and Samarkand, Turks from Central Asia and the Hindus who were converted to Islam.
The official name of Pakistan was used after the partition of (British) India into the 2 states of India and Pakistan in 1947. The once Mughal Empire was divided into the Islamic Republic of Pakistan (with two sections West and East) and largely Hindu, albeit secular 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 Jammu and Kashmir is ongoing between India and Pakistan.
Pakistan is one of those few countries in the world which has every kind of geological structure. It has the sea, desert (Sindh & Punjab), green mountains (North West Provice), dry mountains (Balochistan), mountains covered with ice, rivers, rich land to cultivate (Punjab & Sindh), water resources, water falls, forests etc. The North West Frontier Province and the Northern Area contain the mountain ranges of the Himalayas, the Karakoram, and the Hindu Kush. Pakistan's highest point is K2, at 8,611 meters, which is the second highest peak in the world. The Punjab province is a flat, alluvial plain whose rivers eventually join the Indus River and flow south to the Arabian Sea. Sindh lies between the Thar Desert the Rann of Kutch to the east, and the Kirthar range to the west. The Balochistan Plateau is arid and surrounded by dry mountains. Pakistan experiences frequent earthquakes, occasionally severe, especially in north and west
Mostly hot, dry desert; temperate in northwest; arctic in north. Flooding along the Indus after heavy rains (July and August). Fertile and sub humid heat in the Punjab region.
Eid-ul-Fitr - the largest holiday of the year, it celebrates the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Food is the highlight, and if you're lucky you'll be invited into a private home for a feast. Businesses close for at least a couple days if not a week.
Eid-ul-Azha - the festival of sacrifice, commemorates Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son
Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi - Birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, varies according to Hijera calendar
Pakistan Day - March 23
May day - May 1
Independence Day - August 14
Quaid-e-Azam's deathday - September 11
Quaid-e-Azam's birthday - December 25
Ramadan - the 9th and holiest month in the Islamic calendar, Muslim's fast everyday for its duration and most restaurants will be closed until the fast breaks at dusk. Nothing (including water and cigarettes) are supposed to pass through the lips from sunrise to sunset. Foreigners and travelers are exempt from this, but you should still refrain from doing it in public.
Azad Kashmir Pakistan-administered portion of the disputed Kashmir region
Balochistan the largest and most remote province, its lack of infrastructure can make for rough traveling. Most foreign visitors here are just passing through from Iran, stopping briefly in Quetta
Federally Administered Tribal Areas this area is mostly off-limits to foreigners, and is not under the control of Pakistan's governenment. Home to the legendary Khyber Pass, and the gun making city of Darra Adam Khel.
Islamabad The capital area encompasses Islamabad, Rawalpindi, the Margalla Hills and the ancient ruins of Taxila
Northern Areas 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
North-West Frontier Province 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
Punjab The most populous and agriculturally fertile region in the country, and home to many historical shrines and mosques
Sindh Most visitors head for Karachi or the ancient ruins of Moenjodaro.
The festival of Eid ul-Fitr is held after the end of Ramadan and may last several days. Exact dates depend on astronomical observations and may vary from country to country.
Pakistan has many cities and towns. Below are nine of the most notable. Other cities are listed under their specific regions.
Islamabad - The Federal capital, a relatively new planned city with a much more laidback feel than the rest of the country's cities
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 a very historical city that shouldn't be missed, the food variety is the best in the country.
Faisalabad - A major city in Punjab, famous for its textile industry
Multan - The City of Saints, famous for blue pottery, ornamental glasswork, and Khussa - a type of shoes
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
Muzaffarabad - Capital of Azad Kashmir and the center of the 2005 earthquake
Peshawar - Capital city of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), it has a bit of an outlaw edge to it, and is the gateway to the Khyber Pass
Sialkot - The City of sports goods, famous for its exports industry, one of the oldest city in the region
Karakoram Highway – part of the historic Silk Road, it's the main artery running north to China.
Hunza Valley – one of the more stunning and popular parts of the high mountain areas, some liken it to paradise on Earth. Supposedly the setting for James Hilton's Shangri-La, and the valley lives up to that reputation.
Skardu - Popular for its Shangrila resort.
Murree is a popular Himalayan hill station, one hours drive from Islamabad.
Mountain peaks and glaciers – Pakistan's Northern Areas are home to some of the highest mountains in the world, including K2, Rakaposhi and Nanga Parbat, and offer incredible trekking opportunities
Kalasha Valleys – witness the decline of a truly unique culture in Chitral District
Deserts – Pakistan is home to the Thar desert in Sindh and the Cholistan desert in the Punjab, which it shares with neighboring India
Beaches – Pakistan is home to some of the worlds most beautiful beaches located between Karachi and Gwadar along Makran coastal highway
Archaelogical treasures – the country's rich history has left many things to explore; Taxila, Moenjodaro, Thatta and Harappa are some of the more famous
Almost all nationalities require visas. These are usually easier to obtain in your home country, though recently the individual missions around the world have been given more authority to issue visas without checking in with Islamabad, which should help in getting applications turned around quicker.
Recently a list of 24 "Tourist Friendly Countries" (TFC) was announced that are eligible for one month visas on arrival if they travel through a designated/authorized  tour operator who will assume responsibility for them while in the country. Any extensions on this type of visa must also be done through the tour operator. They include: Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, the UK and the USA.
Nationals of most other countries (and those not wanting to travel with a tour operator and group) need to apply in advance for a visa, which are usually issued for 30-90 days depending on nationality and where you apply. Double-entries are sometimes given, but be clear and persistent when applying that you need this.
A handful of countries are issued visas on arrival: Iceland, Maldives and Zambia for 3 months, Hong Kong, Nepal and Western Samoa for 1 month, while Tonga and Trinidad and Tobago nationals can stay for an unlimited amount of time.
Nationals of Israel are not allowed entry as it is not recognized as a nation by Pakistan (and most other Muslim countries), but there is not any restriction on Jews holding passports from other nations. Despite much online information to the contrary, Israeli stamps and visas would usually pose no problems for entry into Pakistan, though you may be subject to more stringent questioning by immigration officers.
Indian nationals can apply for 30 day tourist visas but must travel in a group through an authorized tour operator. Visitor visas to meet relatives or friends are more easy to obtain, and come with some restrictions. Religious visas are granted for groups of 10 or more for 15 days.
Nationals of Afghanistan are refused entry if their passports or tickets show evidence of transit or boarding in India.
Holders of Taiwan passports are refused entry except in airport transit.
Business visas are now being issued for up to 5 years, multiple entry, as soon as 24 hours before arrival.
The Pakistan Consulate in Istanbul does not issue visas unless you are a resident of Turkey, although it may be possible in Ankara.
The consulate in Zahedan in Iran no longer issues visas, head for the embassy in Tehran.
The High Commission for Pakistan in New Delhi issues visas with a few days needed to process the application. Applications are only accepted in the mornings from around 8-11AM. Arrive early and expect the process to take a few hours. Window 4 is for foreign tourist and business visas.
People of Pakistani origin living overseas are granted 5 year multiple entry visas (along with their spouses), good for single stays of up to 1 year. Visas aren't required at all if they are holding a Pakistan Origin Card (POC) or a National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis (NICOP).
Jinnah International Airport
Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad are the main gateways to Pakistan by air. However, there are 134 airfields in Pakistan. Six other international airports are in Quetta,Gawadar, Peshawar, Sialkot, Multan and Faisalabad.
Jinnah International Airport in Karachi  is served by many international airlines, including Air Arabia, Air China, Biman Bangladesh Airlines, Cathy Pacific, Etihad, Emirates, Gulf, Qatar Airways, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Syrian Arab Airlines, SriLankan Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Iran Air, Malaysia Airlines, Thai Airways , China Airways and Turkish Airlines . It's also the main hub of the national carrier "PIA"and 2 private airlines (Air Blue and Shaheen Air).
Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore  has been completely renovated with a new terminal for international arrivals and departures. Many airlines are currently operating to the airport including Emirates, Etihad Airways, Indian Airlines, Mahan Air, Qatar Airways, Gulf Air, Singapore Airlines, Pakistan International (PIA), Saudi Arabian Airlines, Thai Airways, Kuwait Airways, Uzbekistan Airways and two private airlines from Pakistan.
Islamabad International Airport (Banazir Bhutto International Airport) is currently in review to be expanded and modernized to meet the needs of the future passenger numbers as demand for air travel has increased dramatically. There are many airlines operating into Islamabad including many of the above with Ariana Afghan Airlines, British Airways and China Southern Airlines. The only problem is that the airport is also used by Government officials as well as arrivals from foreign diplomats so the airport may shut down as security is increased so flights are delayed.
Pakistan has train links with India and Iran, though none of these trains are the fastest or most practical way to enter Pakistan. Should speed be a priority it is better to take the bus, or if you are really in a hurry, to fly, however the trains are sights in their own right.
India has two links: The Samjhauta Express is the more common, running on Tuesdays and Fridays between Delhi and Lahore via the Attari/Wagah border crossing. Tourists should be aware that after recent terrorist attacks on the train, which caused many a casualty and strained relationships between the two neighbors, it is strongly advised that you take taxis or buses to and from the border instead. The Thar Express restarted in February 2006 after 40 years out of service. It runs from Munabao in the Indian state of Rajasthan to Khokrapar in Pakistan's Sindh province, but is not open to foreign tourists.
Iran has one link, from Zahedan to Quetta.
From ancient times people have been travelling through Pakistan using the Grand Trunk Road and the Silk Road that run through Pakistan and into the Indian subcontinent. It's a rewarding but time consuming way to see this part of the world. New highways have been developed and the country is due for an expansion in its highway network. A world-class motorway connects the cities of Peshawar, Islamabad, Lahore, and Faisalabad.
Pakistan is connected to China through the Karakoram Highway, a modern feat of engineering that traverses a remarkably scenic route through the Karakoram and Himalayan mountains. Which is about to be expanded from current 10m wide to 30m because of the increase in trade traffic due to Gwader port opening.
There are two routes between Pakistan and Afghanistan:
The Khyber Pass connects Peshawar to Jalalabad and Kabul and requires an armed escort and a permit to travel through the tribal regions between Peshawar and the border. Onward travel from the border to Kabul is of questionable safety, check the current situation locally.
The Bolan Pass connects Quetta to Kandahar and is considered very dangerous. This route is currently only open to locals and aid workers.
From India: While there is international service running from Delhi to Lahore it is just as fast, much more flexible, and much cheaper to take the journey by stringing together local transport and crossing the border on foot.
From China: You can take a bus from Kashgar over the Karakoram Highway to Pakistan.
From Iran: One comes to Pakistan from Iran via the Mijva border in Iran which is half an hours drive from Zahedan. The Pakistani border town is called Taftan and has facilities of immigration, customs, hotels etc.
A trial ferry service was run from Dubai to Karachi, but this service has been discontinued.
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.
 By plane
Pakistan International Airlines 
Aero Asia International 
Shaheen Air International 
PIA serves numerous domestic destinations and is the only airline to serve the three airports in the north of interest to trekkers or climbers: Chitral, Gilgit, and Skardu. There are usually two flights from Islamabad to these cities daily, but they are often canceled due to bad weather. The flights are often over-booked, show up early to guarantee your seat.
Pakistan Railway  provides passenger rail service. The stations tend not to have their timetables in English, but sales agents can usually explain everything to you. There are several different classes of fares depending on amenities. Foreign tourists and students with an ISIC card can get 25% and 50% discounts, respectively, by first visiting the PTDC (Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation) office, getting q verification certificate there, and bringing it with them to the train's commercial ticket office (which is different from the regular ticket office, but usually close by).
The most striking thing in Pakistan is the vision of trucks and buses completely covered in a riot of color and design. This image has been recommended for deletion.
A large portion of travel between cities in Pakistan is carried out by bus. Travelling between Karachi and any of the country's other major cities by bus may take days, and is usually advised against, because of highway robbery, known locally as 'dacoitry'. With that exception, however, travel by bus is often the cheapest and most convenient alternative. The Dae-Woo company runs a regular bus service between several major cities, with air-conditioned buses and seats booked one day ahead. While rather unexpensive, they are still almost five times as expensive as the cheap and uncomplicated rides offered by minibuses or larger buses between the major bus stations of the cities. Fares are often (though not always) paid directly on the bus, there is no aircondition, and sometimes very little knee space, but you get where you are going all the same, and I have never met with anything but kind interest and friendly conversation on my many rides. Buses leave almost incessantly from the major bus stations for all the major cities, and many smaller locations, so booking ahead is neither possible nor necessary on the simpler buses. When travelling between major cities, smaller buses are to be preferred over the larger ones, as the larger ones tend to take up passagers along the way, and therefore travel more slowly.
The situation is similar for local transport. While the organization of local transport may look a little different between cities, there is usually an active bus service running through the city, with varying levels of government control.
For local transport within cities, auto rickshaws are a cheap and flexible alternative. A development of the bicycle rickshaw, the auto rickshaw is a small vehicle powered by a two-stroke engine, constantly emitting a stuttering noise and foul blue-black smoke. Blue-and-yellow auto rickshaws take passengers, other colours tend to be privately owned. The inexperienced traveller should negotiate prices before entering the rickshaw.In Lahore 2 Stroke engine Rikshaws are replaced with Gas Powered 4 Strock engines.
Rickshaws are banned in the capital Islamabad.
Urdu is the national language and is spoken throughout Pakistan as lingua franca. In addition to Urdu most Pakistanis speak their regional languages or dialects such as Punjabi, Pothohari, Sindhi, Pashto (Pushtun), Balochi, Saraiki, Shina, Burushaski, Khowar, Wakhi, Hindko etc.
English is the official language used in all government and most educational and business entities, and is also understood and spoken at varying levels of competence by many people around Pakistan, especially the upper classes and people who have gone through higher levels of education, and those residing in the larger cities.
The national currency of Pakistan is the rupee (PKR). Coins are issued in 1, 2, and 5 rupee denominations while banknotes come in 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000, and 5000 rupee values.
ATMs exist in most areas and accept major credit cards.
You can buy very cheap garments, bed sheets, shirts, T-shirts, It is to be mentioned that many world renowned brands like Adidas, Levis, Slazenger, HangTen, Wal-Mart etc get their products prepared from Faisalabad which has got one of the largest textile industries of the World. You can find cheap products of these brands at local stores. You can get a pair of Levis jeans (or any other good brand for that matter) for just 300 PKR (5 USD).
Buy leather goods like shoes, jackets and bags.
Buy sports goods like cricket bats, balls, kits, footballs, sports wear and almost anything related to sports you can imagine. You will not find such high quality equipments at such low cost anywhere else. To mention, Sialkot produces ninety percent of the world’s sports goods and is the largest provider of sports equipment to FIFA for the World cup.
Pakistan produces cheap and high quality musical instruments. You can even get an acoustic guitar for as low as 2000 PKR (34 USD).
Buy surgical instruments
Buy computer accessories
Buy Chinese goods especially Electronics & Cameras which are re-exported from Pakistan and is cheaper than other parts of the world.
Buy Arabian, Afghan, Iranian and Pakistani carpets
Buy Wood Carvings such as decorative wooden plates, bowls, artwork, furniture, and other miscellaneous items.
Buy Jewelry such as necklaces, bracelets etc are very inexpensive in Pakistan.
Buy gems, handicrafts (Ajrak from Sindh, Blue pottery from Multan, Clay pottery from Karachi), glassware, brassware, marble products, crystal works and antiques Also buy pashmina, rugs, wool-shawls or wraps, which can cost anywhere between $15 to as much as $700. Remember to bargain.
Buy souvenirs such as decorative items from Sea Shells.
For food stuffs go to any super store like Dmart, Makro, Metro; especially buy Swat honey, Biscuits, Mitchells chocolate which are the best in the world.
Buy home accessories
Buy Kitchen Utensils and Cutlery
For art lovers, get in touch with a local to take you around. There are so many art galleries in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad that are worth visiting and each will offer a completely different range of artwork, style and pricing. All the facilities should be visited if you are an art lover.
Pakistani food mainly consists of various kinds of kababs eaten with either flatbread or rice. Food tends range from mild to very spicy depending on where you are. 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).
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.
Roti/Chapatti - A homemade bread, much thinner then naan and usually made out of unrefined flour, and which is ready in minutes.
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".
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.
Taftan - Much like the 'sheer mal' but with a puffed-up ring around it. This is generally just as good as the 'sheer mal' but easier to eat liquidy curry (shorba) with.
As you might have noticed, 'Naan' 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 'kababs' (mainly made of Beef or Lamb):
Seekh Kabab (سيخ کباب) - A long skewer of minced beef mixed with herbs and seasonings.
Shami Kabab (شامي کباب) - A round patty of seasoned beef and lentils, softer than seekh kababs.
Chapli Kabab (چپلي کباب) - A spicy round kabab that is a specialty of Peshawar.
Chicken Kabab (مرغ کباب) - A popular kabab that is found both with bone and without.
Lamb Kabab (کبابِ برہ گوشت) - The all lamb meat kabab is usually served as cubes.
More Pakistani Foods:
Roasted Chicken (whole) (مرغ بريان) - A whole chicken roasted. Very famous around Pakistan. You'll see them on the rotisserie while driving on Lahore streets.
Biryani (برياني) - A dish with mixed pieces of chicken and rice. It smells nice from the saffron and other seasonings added.
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.
Haleem - Thick soup-like 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.
Daal - 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.
Bhindi - 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).
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.
Paye - 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.
Enjoy a variety; ice cream can be found in an abundance of flavors such as the traditional pistachio flavoured Kulfi;
Falooda (فلودہ) 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.
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 parlors, there are some good ice-cream parlors in Lahore like "Polka Parlor" "Jamin Java" "Hot Spot".
A part from local restaurants, there are also international fast food chains having their outlets throughout in Pakistan. They include, KFC, Pizzahut, McDonalds, Subway, Nandos, Mr.Cod, Papa Johns and Domino
Tap water is generally not safe 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.
The taste of the water is said to be very good in the north-eastern side of Pakistan, especially in the district of Sialkot. Ask for bottled water wherever possible, and avoid anything cold that might have water in it.
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 is a milky tea with almonds and nuts added to give additional flavour. This tea is very popular during weddings 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 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 called 'Murree Beer. It is illegal 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.
Hotels are usually found around busy transportation 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. If you have a big enough wallet you may want to try the reputable luxury hotels such as the Pearl Continental , Holiday Inn and others located in all major cities as well as many tourist destinations. With the exception of these upper-end hotels, the term "hotel" in Pakistan is reserved for simpler establishments, with "Guest House" referring to medium-sized establishments where the standard is typically higher. Also note that restaurants are also called "hotels", creating a fun potential for confusion.
Learn various dances. Taking some traditional cooking classes can also be very helpful later.
Many Pakistani companies are looking for Sales representatives 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, Islamabad and Rawalpindi.
Pakistan has endured several bomb attacks over the last few years against security forces, 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. For the ordinary traveler it's a fairly welcoming country, but social protests tend to turn violent and political demonstrations are always sensitive. Before traveling you should check with your embassy about off-limits areas and the latest developments, and keep an eye on independent news sources.
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.
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 & 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 has become extremely dangerous over the last couple of years and is best avoided at this time. Northern and Western Balochistan are considered dangerous and not fit for most tourists.
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 Pak, Haleeb Milk, and others are trusted brands and are available at most grocery stores.
Take precautions against malaria, which is 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 may need to eat prophylactic medicine as well. The risk of getting Malaria decreases with higher altitudes.
In the summer it gets very hot. Be careful to stay hydrated.
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 can not take very spicy food.
Pakistanis pride themselves on their tradition of hospitality to guests (mehmanawazi in Urdu, milmastia in Pashtu, puranadari in Punjabi). Just a greeting of Salam Alaykum 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.
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, though shorts are uncommon. Never shake hands with a woman you don't know very well.
As with most of South Asia, 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.
PTCL (Pakistan Telecommunication Ltd.)  was a government-run phone company providing communications services such as land-line phones, mobile phones, Internet, and VoIP services. Now the company is privatized and is run by UAE's Phone company etisalat. Major providers of mobile phone service (GSM) are:
Zong - China Mobile