Frequently Asked Questions on Pakistan

My experience being in Pakistan

It’s fascinating most questions I get about Pakistan are more or less are the same. It sparked an idea to write a blog post answering the questions. Pakistan is different to everyone and by no means what my experience is the same for others and vice versa. What I say is only my tiny view of it. I haven’t seen the country properly myself.

I haven’t been to Lahore and Karachi and everything in between. What I have seen is very limited. What I have experienced is very limited too. My frequently asked questions about Pakistan is a very small view which I am sure with time it will change and expand as we plan to be in Pakistan more often from now on. We will see more of this wonderful country on one of our trips hopefully.

Pakistan can be anything you like! It can be bad, it can be good, it can be just ok, it can be amazing, and anything and everything in between. For me, for sure, and for my husband Pakistan is one of the most amazing countries we have ever been to. I want to live there. We do live there because we have a house in Islamabad.

However, a background to Pakistan is this:

  • 40% of the population in Pakistan is illiterate that needs to change
  • Basic healthcare is not available for millions of people that needs to change
  • Tens of millions live in poverty and that’s needs to change
  • Pakistan is a fifth most populous country in the world and is home to the second largest mountain in the world K2! (I love the mountains here)

In the meantime here are some questions I’ve got about Pakistan.

Is Pakistan Safe?

YES! I felt safe here. Not for one second did I feel threatened, worried about my security and safety. However, we are in the safe part of Pakistan, Islamabad. We did wonder into Gilgit-Baltistan and Hunza valley but I can honestly say I’ve never felt safer in my life before. It was fun, beautiful, and inspiring. So, yes, Pakistan is safe!

What food do you eat in Pakistan?

That’s a hard one to answer. Not because of the lack of choice but because there’s so much different food and choice. I can safely say there are plenty of options if you are vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, or any other arian! I have eaten lamb. It was delicious! I have eaten amazing daal. I have eaten biriyani which can be vegetable, chicken, lamb, or fish. I’ve eaten vegetable, lamb, and fish ones — absolutely delicious.

I have eaten lamb kebabs. I don’t know how they make it but it melts in your mouth when you eat it. I love lamb dishes and to be honest, I wouldn’t eat meat unless it’s halal and is prepared in Pakistani! Even if I tried to order bland food I couldn’t. They simply do not know how to cook food without some kind of spices. Those spices they use, taste like magic! I’d love to learn to use the spices the way they do.

The food in Pakistan is the best food of my life! I’ve managed to lose weight eating all the food. My husband and I did a pretty challenging hiking trek almost every morning so that helped to keep us fit.

What clothes do you wear in Pakistan?

Wear whatever the heck you like! People are relaxed here no one will tell you to wear a headscarf or not to wear it. Personally, I like to fit in with the locals so I wore shalwar kameez. The most comfortable clothes on the planet. I don’t ever want to wear anything else, to be honest. I love wearing shalwar kameez. It’s beautiful, respectful, and comfortable.

I would love to sew my own shalwar kameez one day. When my husband and I will spend more time here I will find a tailor that will sew the clothes the way I’d like. It will be a fusion of shalwar kameez and my imagination. It’s hot in Pakistan too so anything else than cotton shalwar kameez would be too hot to wear.

Are you oppressed as a woman in Pakistan?

The short answer to that is NO! Women in Pakistan are so respected. I’ve never seen so much respect for women in any other country so far. In families, daughters are regarded so highly, they loved more than the boys. All families are different but in my husband’s extended family the girls are loved the most.

They get the best treatment. What I get as an outsider is that women are protected, loved, and are taking care of. That’s not to say they sit at home and do nothing. Many women work in offices. There are plenty of policewomen or traffic officers. I saw it in Islamabad. I haven’t seen anything bad or disrespectful toward women. Women are very much loved here.

The builders came to our house not only did they speak to me (out of respect) but wouldn’t even look at me (out of respect). I haven’t seen that type of respect anywhere in the world towards women.

What does it look like outside where you live?

Some people think Pakistan is an outer universe! Life here is amazing. Some houses are massive mansions I haven’t seen mansions like that in the US nor UK nor anywhere else in the world. Imagine people living in a replica house of the White house…?! The size of those mansions is unimaginable. Pakistanis go big when they build their mansions.

My street is full of similar build houses because it’s in a gated community. It’s like a city within a city. It’s a very well established entity called Bahria enclave. They build incredible ‘cities’ around Pakistan. However, all the houses from the outside have to have a certain look. It’s very similar to an English terrace house type of look. It’s much more sophisticated here than in the UK though.

How do people live there?

Like kings and queens although Pakistani don’t believe in terms of kings and queens. I am referring to the way people here. If you have a little bit of money it gets you a LONG way! Not only will you live comfortably but you will be able to have a driver and a cleaner who comes every day. Everything is taking care of for you.

In Pakistan, labour is cheap and you want to help others by giving work such as driving, cleaning or being a security guy if you need one. Therefore, you end up living like a king or a queen. You don’t need to lift a finger to get food shopping done. You don’t need to lift a finger to have your house clean. You don’t even need to lift your finger for cooking your own meal.

It doesn’t matter how much money I’d have in the UK I wouldn’t be able to live there as we live in Pakistan. I’ve never had people working for me to do the shopping for me or clean my house the way these guys do. When your household chores are taking care of I can create and do so much more with my life! So that’s life in Pakistan is like.

Are there many homeless people in Pakistan?

I haven’t seen it. Probably there is but I am yet to see it. That’s not to say that everyone is rich. There’s real poverty in Pakistan. The cleaner earns 60 euros a month for cleaning a house every day for a month. Labour is cheap. Living costs are cheap. In cities like Lahore and Karachi probably there are homeless people but as I said I haven’t seen it.

I haven’t been to those cities yet. I have never been to India but my husband has. He told me people in India live on the street. You don’t see that in Pakistan. You see poor people and they’d ask for money or try to sell you something. Religion has got something to do it; Muslims are obliged to help others maybe that’s why there are fewer homeless people in Pakistan…?

Are there terrorists in Pakistan?

Are there terrorists in the USA? Are there terrorists in the UK? Are there terrorists in Europe? Think about those questions and you tell me. I haven’t seen it myself in any other country either. Why would we single out one country and assume the worse? One might argue because of the past, however, the past is past. It isn’t today.

How men treat others?

I’ve only seen respect towards everyone. I haven’t seen anyone being mean, angry, or out of order. There’s a caveat to that I’ve only seen Islamabad and Islamabad is a very different city to others in Pakistan. There are lots of diplomats, foreigners and people here are not really bothered about others.

I’ve seen a lot of love amongst men. They’d grab a friend’s hand to cross a street. They’d hug on the streets. There’s so much love. It’s not like ‘oh he is gay’ it’s more like love and care for one another. There are gay people here too. No one seemed to mind their business either.

It’s very peaceful, respectful, and caring. We had to go to a bank to make an electricity bill payment a guy who was standing by the bank turned out he works there. He kept it open for us for a good 20 min more so we pay the bill. Not only did we manage to pay the bill but also got a cup of tea while paying the bill. He didn’t have to do that for us. There’s a lot of kindness, love, and care around.

When can I get my caffeine fix?

Islamabad is full of lovely cafes where you can get not only delicious coffee but also an amazing breakfast. The variety of breakfast is huge! You’ll get pancakes with almost anything you want. You’ll get a typical Pakistani breakfast. Eggs Benedict or any other type of eggs. Porridge. Toast. Basically, anything you want you’ll get.

A nice place to hang out is F6. There are a few great breakfast spots there like Mocca, Street cafe 1, and a few others near by. There are amazing places around Islamabad we haven’t managed to venture out to yet.

Where can I buy household essentials?

There’s an abapara market, you’ll get curtains, bed sheets, pillows, duvets. If interested, you’ll find tools to fix your house up. All other stuff like plates, cutlery, and crockery in a shop in F6. There are other places like big shopping malls too you’ll find everything you might need. Prices vary depending on the area and the shop you buy things from.

It’s like anywhere else in the world. Islamabad is no different.

Is it a clean place to live?

It depends on where you in Pakistan. Islamabad is great because it’s close to the mountains. There’s a lot of greenery and trees. Nature is beautiful in Islamabad. There’s some pollution but not as bad as Lahore I hear. Lahore is a very polluted city. I haven’t been there yet so cannot tell you from my experience.

However, Islamabad is like any other city in Europe. It’s more green, it’s got more eagles flying around, it’s got everything and more. More than one would expect. The people are lovely too.

Where do you shop?

There’s plenty of shops around in Islamabad. It depends on what you need. If you need food items like fruit and vegetable you can buy it pretty much anywhere. There are plenty of fruit and vegetable sellers on the street. They display their goods so pretty. It’s always so tempting to buy more apples, pomegranates, and other delicious fruit.

Clothe shopping is very cool here too. I love shopping for shalwar kameez here. There are plenty of shops where you get amazing suits. There are plenty of tailors who make the clothes you want! I am yet to go to a tailor! I cannot wait. They create pretty much anything you like here. Where else would you get that?

Is it expensive in Pakistan?

No. We went to a restaurant in F6. Five people had dinner. The total amount came to 40 euros. We had some non-alcoholic drinks, water, we had one starter and the mains. It’s pretty good if you ask me. The food shopping is cheap here too. I went to a shop to get some vegetables, milk and other essential items I paid less than 4 euros.

Pakistan isn’t expensive but it can be if you wanted to. You can buy carpets, expensive jewellery, and scarves… You can spend plenty of money if you wanted to. And you can spend little money it will be great too. You can also stay at expensive hotels that will up your spending for sure. Generally, Pakistan isn’t very expensive.

Would I live in Pakistan?

Yes, absolutely! I love it here. It’s a perfect place to live here too! I feel like a queen here. I have so much more time for myself, the cleaning of the house, the washing, the food shopping is taking care of. I can do all the amazing things I want to do. I haven’t managed yet to be a tourist or be on holiday in Pakistan yet.

Maybe once we settle in properly I’ll get to see more of Pakistan and be more like a tourist on a holiday rather than working and fixing the problems of the house.

What are the schools like in Pakistan?

There are plenty of good schools from which the students get into Oxford and Cambridge. There are many private schools in Pakistan that high standard of learning. The education here is high for children. They do value education in Pakistan. It is important for parents to make sure their kids are educated.

If I left some questions out please let me know in the comments I’d be more than happy to answer. Pakistan is an amazing country. Everyone should visit. Everyone should experience it. This country is so big! It has so much to offer. It’s so lovely to be here. The weather is great too. It’s the warmest October of my entire life. It’s summer here.

Pakistan has it all — nature (the mountains), friendly and nice people, the food and the style in terms of clothes. What’s not to like?

Love and light!

I am a writer who learned to code! I write about personal experiences within a humanist and global context. Find me on Twitter & Instagram @erikachaudhary

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