There is no legal dress code for people in Pakistan, however it is a traditional society, so it’s best to dress modestly when in the country, especially for women. Nearly all men in Pakistan wear the traditional shalwar kameez which is a long shirt made from a thin material shirt which covers down to just above the knee. This is worn with long pants, which are made out of a thin flowing fabric.
Different variations of this can be found throughout the country which reflect the climate and cultural factors. Men will also wear the karakul which is similar to a fez hat. People in the Pakhtunkhwa area of the NWFA will also wear the pakol hat, which is also common in Afghanistan.
People in Baluchistan will also wear a long robe called a jama which goes all the way down to the ankles and is usually made out of a thicker material to protect from the strong winds in the area.
When traveling to Pakistan, especially in the mountainous north, the weather can be very unpredictable, so it’s a good idea to have a jacket with you just in case, even in summer.
Topics of discussion
Politics can be a sensitive topic in Pakistan, especially when discussing the current political climate as well as topics such as women’s rights. This of course will depend on the person you speak to, however as a rule of thumb it’s best to not speak to a random person straight away about the leader of the country or any big international issues you may have heard about.
You may also get asked about your religion as well (which is common in the region). If you are agnostic or atheist and they ask if you have a religion, it’s better to just say yes as the concept of not having a religion is a very foreign concept and not a welcomed ideology. They generally hold much more respect for someone of a different religion than someone who claims to have no religion.
The state religion of Pakistan is Islam which accounts for roughly 96% of the population. This is broken down into approximately 75-95% Sunni and 5-25% Shia. The majority of Sunnis in Pakistan practise a form of Islam called Sufism which can be described as a form of Islamic mysticism.
With Pakistan’s enormous population it makes it the second most populous Muslim nation on the planet, and Karachi in the south of the country is the biggest Muslim city in the world with a population around 15 million.
There is a sizable Hindu minority in the south of the country, mostly in the Sindh region, not surprisingly, along the border area with India. Even though Pakistan’s constitution guarantees religious freedom and protection, Hindus have often been the target of religious motivated violence which has led many to immigrate to India or further abroad.
Christians make up about 1% of the population and there are also other minority religions such as Jainism and Zoroastrianism. Pakistan’s Kalash people, who only exist in Pakistan, also follow their own unique religion which can’t be found anywhere else. This religion is a form of Animism mixed with mystic Hinduism.