Expats working in Pakistan will find that the business world is governed by hierarchy. Respect is very important and those who are older, more experienced and in a higher position should be greeted and addressed first.
Pakistan was ranked 108th out of 190 countries rated in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Survey for 2020. The country did well in the categories of protecting minority investors (28th) and resolving insolvency (58th) but fell short when it came to ease of paying taxes (181st), enforcing contracts (155th), and registering property (151st).
8am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday.
English is the language of business. Urdu is also commonly spoken.
The dress code is conservative. Smart suits are appropriate
If invited to a Pakistani household, flowers or chocolates are acceptable and should be given with two hands.
Gender disparity exists in the workplace, and women are seldom in senior positions.
Business culture in Pakistan
Men shake hands with each other and often hug when a relationship is formed. Men should not attempt to shake a woman’s hand unless she extends hers first. In Pakistani business culture, people are rarely addressed by their first names. Instead, refer to an associate by their title and surname.
Trust is important in the Pakistani business world, and non-business related conversations usually precede a meeting. Avoid any controversial topics about politics, religion or terrorism. It is common for colleagues to ask about an expat’s family and other personal matters.
Meetings are best planned for the late morning or early afternoon. Deadlines are seen as flexible and business may take longer than usual, so expats should be patient and work around this. Ramadan is an important part of the year for Pakistanis, and expats should not schedule any meetings over this period.
Dos and don’ts of business in Pakistan
Don’t feel uncomfortable if colleagues stand very close as this is common
Do accept business cards with the right hand or both hands
Do be punctual for meetings, but don’t be surprised if meetings are cancelled at the last minute
Don’t maintain constant eye contact. This can seem threatening, especially for seniors.
►See Working in Pakistan for information on the country's economy
Are you an expat living in Pakistan?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Pakistan. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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