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Expatriates in Pakistan

When going to Pakistan, one of the most important things to keep in mind is that one is entering a highly Islamic country. Customs and culture differs enormously from that of Western cultures, and the need for respect and understanding is imperative for an expatriate’s stay to be successful. For example, one should keep in mind that religious and social issues have extremely high importance, and this often comes at the cost of business issues. Following this, many have gone wrong by putting time-pressure on Pakistani’s. This is a no-no, as there is not much focus on time, and pressing this issue is considered very impolite and disrespectful. Thus, one should be very patient.

Having conducted an interview with one of the authors, who has had extensive experience with foreign expatriates in Pakistan, it has been identified certain desirable qualities and personal characteristics that might increase the likelihood of a successful expatriate stay in Pakistan.

As Pakistan have a colonial legacy from the time of the British, there are certain things that might make life a whole lot easier if only aware of those. For example, Pakistani’s drink a lot of tea. Furthermore, there is a strong emphasis on relationship building, meaning Pakistani’s like to chat and interact. So, when drinking one’s tea and chatting along, one is likely to score many points amongst the locals if one has some knowledge of either cricket or field-hockey. Pakistan cannot seem to get enough of these two sports left behind by the British. If one is well informed about the role of religion (Islam), the

The boss. one cannot question a woman’s integrity nor insult a . There also needs to be words of caution regarding being an expatriate in Pakistan. Rather. This is considered very inappropriate. If. past family used to be Royal). To put it in the extreme. but rather tag along and participate. they have developed excellent techniques for this. As such. What is more. is expected to protect the women and their interests. This pertains particularly to the role of religion and that of women in the society. when interacting it is important to have a basic understanding of non-verbal behaviour. one needs to be very sensitive to their needs. it is a compliment to the receiver of the boast. negotiation is considered a national sport and past time in Pakistan. For example. Also. this should not be taken as an attempt to compete for status. If having female employees. if the expatriate wife is a feminist there is bound to be problems! One cannot escape the fact that there are differences between men and women in the Pakistani society. One should not be offended nor let oneself be carried away when this happens. if one boasts about something to a Pakistani. Furthermore.role of the family and the clan. Therefore. What is also considered important when interacting socially is to have something to boast and brag about. meaning the receiver has been found worthy of receiving such information. especially when interacting with the social-elite. one must always take the situation in consideration. for example. as the interaction is not restricted to the literal. who is usually male. For example. a Pakistani boasts about his family or wealth (i. and expatriates are expected to respect this.e. one will receive great respect as knowledge of this is highly valued. it helps build the relationships that they so much appreciate.. This is socially accepted in Pakistan. one must never talk to a woman without the husband being around.

one needs to consider who the guests are before deciding to serve alcohol or not. this only pertains to Muslims. . when having a party or social gathering. Furthermore. Expatriates are allowed to drink alcohol. but are expected to show consideration for the locals and ‘keep it out of sight’. however. There is also the issue of alcohol.woman in public. Islamic law prohibits consumption of alcohol. as it is the generally accepted view that women do not do anything wrong.