Pakistan: Doing business & staying in touch

Doing business in Pakistan

Image is everything in Pakistan’s modern business society, so dress the part when attending meetings. Men should wear a shirt and tie, and women should avoid wearing skirts.

Appointments should be made in advance, but business is done at a leisurely pace so be patient and expect interruptions during a meeting (Pakistanis have an open door policy). Most meetings are held at the office or in the best hotel in town. All Islamic festival days are upheld and are usually days off for celebration. Some businesses create a religious working environment for their employees as part of developing personnel imbued with honesty, loyalty and required sense of duty. So be prepared for regular breaks for prayer time.

Office hours

Mon-Thurs and Sat 0900-1700; Fri 0900-1230.

Economy

Once a great agricultural land, exporting many kinds of fruit and cotton, the economy has been hit by internal strife and upheaval in the region. A country where power cuts are now the norm, the economy is flagging.

The EIU predicts and annual growth of nearly 4% a year until 2018. Inflation is at 9.2% with a moderate growth in GDP. Pakistan stands at 110th in terms of doing business out of amongst 189 economies of the world covered by the World Bank.

GDP

$236.6 billion (2014)

Main exports

Textiles, rice, leather goods, sports goods, carpets and rugs.

Main imports

Petroleum and petroleum products, machinery, plastics, transport equipment and edible oils.

Main trading partners

Keeping in Touch in Pakistan

Telephone

Interstate calls are half price after 1800, but there are no cheap times for international calls. Whilst phone cards are available, not all PCO (public call offices) booths will accept them, nor will all top-end hotels.

Mobile phone

Roaming agreements exist with some international mobile phone companies. Coverage is largely limited to main cities. Prepaid SIM cards are available, often with good value starter pack offers.

Internet

Internet is available in urban areas where internet cafes can be found, but the service may be erratic. Hotels often charge far higher rates than internet cafes.

Post

Airmail takes four to five days to reach Western Europe. It is reliable but slow. Note - you are not allowed to send any CDs or DVDs out of the country. This is due to the high volume of software and media trafficking in Pakistan.

Post office hours

General post offices in major cities offer 24-hour services (www.pakpost.gov.pk).

Media

Former President Pervez Musharraf's rule was marked by increased freedom for the print media and liberalisation of broadcasting policies; the state's monopoly has been diminished by the expansion of private radio and TV stations. In 2005, issued licences for private FM radio stations totalled around 100, but private stations are not allowed to broadcast news. Pakistani censorship, however, remains far more rigorous than in India. The Pakistani Government uses a range of legal and constitutional powers to curb press freedom. The country's law on blasphemy has been used against journalists. Nevertheless, Pakistan's print media are among the most outspoken in South Asia. Media rules were tightened in 2007 after an opposition campaign against President Musharraf.

Press

The English-language press enjoys a great deal of influence in business circles.  Dailies include Business Recorder, The Dawn, Financial Post, The Nation and The News (an English-language daily). Daily Jang and Daily Ausuf are Urdu-language.

Television

Pakistan Television Corporation Ltd is a state TV broadcaster that operates PTV 1, PTV National, PTV Bolan and PTV World. Geo TV and Indus TV are popular satellite channels. Shalimar Television Network (STN) has both state-run and privately owned networks. ATV is a semi-private, terrestrial channel.

Radio

Radio Pakistan is state-run and operates more than 20 stations nationwide, an external service and the FM 101 network, aimed at younger listeners. Azad Kashmir Radio is also state-run. FM 100 is a commercial, music-based FM network.

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