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Travel Guide > Asia > Pakistan

Pakistan People & Culture

  
 
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Customs

Pakistanis pride themselves on their tradition of hospitality to guests (mehmanawazi in Urdu, milmastia in Pashtu, puranadari in Punjabi). When entering a house, you will often be showered with tea, sweets and gifts — it's considered ungrateful to refuse these. Finishing a meal involves a delicate balance.... cleaning your plate will invite more to be served, while leaving too much may be a sign you didn't care for it. Aim for leaving just a little, announcing you're full, and heavily praising the food.

Business tends to move slowly, and will often be preceded by a lot of socializing, tea drinking, and meeting of the family. Rushing to the point may be considered rude, and even sour the deal.

Pakistan is a conservative country and it is advisable for women to wear long skirts or trousers in public (Pakistani women wear the traditional shalwar kameez. But in the big cities, women wearing jeans and khakis is not very uncommon sight, especially in casual settings, shopping malls and around picnic spots). Dress codes for men are more lax, though shorts are uncommon. Men should never shake hands with or touch a woman they 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.





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