Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Overview of Pakistan

Welcome to Islamic Republic of Pakistan and 7th Nuclear Power
Awe-inspiring mountains, time-honoured traditions and a warm people.

Few Westerners know much about Pakistan beyond media impressions of Islamic fundamentalism, communal violence and martial law, but it contains some of Asia's most mind-blowing landscapes, extraordinary trekking, a multitude of cultures and a long tradition of hospitality.

Pakistan is the site of some of the earliest human settlements, home to an ancient civilisation rivalling those of Egypt and Mesopotamia, and the crucible of two of the world's major religions, Hinduism and Buddhism, both of which have their roots in the subcontinent. It's far more than the last hurdle before reaching India.

When to go

The best time for travelling to Pakistan depends on which part of the country you intend to visit. Generally speaking, Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab and the southern North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) are best visited in the cooler months between November and February. After that it gets uncomfortably hot. Northern NWFP, the Northern Areas and Azad Jammu & Kashmir are generally at their best from around May to October (although occasionally stormy) The trekking season is from late April to late October, peaking from mid-June to mid-September. The weather may be a little stormy during this time, but the mountain districts are usually still accessible.

Try to avoid visiting Pakistan during Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, which occurs in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar (not the Gregorian calendar). Check the web for Ramadan dates or you may find yourself involuntarily joining in the fast, because activity is kept to a minimum and food can be hard to find (and, if found, often considered offensive if consumed publicly) during daylight hours.

Travel Warning: Sectarian Tension

In light of the recent assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, travellers to Pakistan should continue to monitor the security situation and take extreme caution when visiting the country. Check out Safe Travel for updated government warnings or the Thorn Tree travel forum for insights from travellers.

Due to ongoing sectarian and political violence in Karachi, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar and Lahore, travellers are advised to pay attention to any consular warnings before visiting and to exercise very high levels of caution when in these cities and nearby regional centres. A bombing at a political rally in Karachi last October caused around 100 fatalities, while a suicide attack at a Shia mosque in Peshawar on 17 January killed at least ten people. Travellers should avoid large gatherings and demonstrations.

Avoid travel to Waziristan, to northern and western Balochistan, western North West Frontier Province (NWFP), the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas and Agencies (FATA), and border areas other than official crossings. Visitors to upper Sindh are encouraged to notify authorities beforehand.

The Swat region in Punjab Province should be considered out of bounds as fighting between the army and militants is intensifying. Though tensions along the Kashmiri Line of Control have eased, travellers should keep abreast of the latest developments.

severity: High-level alert

Fast Facts

Country Full Name

Islamic Republic of Pakistan




Name: Pakistan Rupee
Code: PKR
Symbol: Rs

ime Zones


Country Dialing Code


Weights & Measures


Languages Spoken

Official: Urdu, English
Essential: Panjabi

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