Pakistani Culture

Business Culture

Primary Author
Nina Evason, Iti Memon, & Humaira Gul Saeed,


  • It is a good idea to arrive on time. However, consider that you may be kept waiting as Pakistanis may not always start meeting proceedings punctually.
  • Wait to be introduced to everyone present by a host or third-party intermediary. You are likely to be greeted in order of age and status.
  • Offer your business card with your right hand alone or both hands together, and receive another person’s in the same fashion.
  • Meetings usually begin with refreshments and small talk to acquaint everyone present.
  • Do not expect any decisions to be reached on the first day or meeting of a business encounter.
  • If discussion gets emotional or heated, remain calm and keep your composure. Assertive behaviour by which you stand your ground and argue your position may work against you.
  • Similarly, high-pressure tactics are likely to be unsuccessful and may actually jeopardise dealings.
  • The oldest person present may be deferred to for their opinion. If they take a long time to consider the situation, wait patiently for their reply. Silence should not be pressed or misunderstood as impassiveness.
  • Appealing to a win-win outcome usually gains popular support.


  • Trust is a big factor in Pakistani business culture; therefore, Pakistanis feel comfortable when well acquainted with their business relations. Pakistanis will often ask personal questions as a method of further acquainting themselves and building trust. Third-party introductions are an effective way to establish a trusting business relationship.
  • Generally, Pakistanis prefer to conduct their business discussions in person, rather than conversing over the phone.
  • It is considered inappropriate to enquire about a business relation's wife or daughters, unless you are very well acquainted.
  • 'Wasta' is dominant in business transactions, when bargaining, and frequenting a family-run convenience store. Many small businesses are family-run and rely on loyal customers. This concept also depicts how the family is of primal importance in the daily life of Pakistanis. See Interdependence and Wasta in the Core Concepts for more information on this.


  • It is appropriate to bargain for up to a 50% discount in most stores.
  • Age plays an important role in the amount of respect enjoyed by a particular person; however, family status is also key. Treating older business relations with particular respect is required.
  • It is normal to precede a business transaction by greeting the shopkeeper and asking about their well-being when first walking into a store.
  • It is better to maintain eye contact when conducting business, as eye contact often infers superiority.
  • Family-run businesses are extremely common in Pakistani culture and are generally continued generationally as is assumed to guarantee trust. Aspects of inheritance culture dictate that the upkeep of the business will be bestowed upon the eldest son.
  • Business is generally avoided during the month of Ramadan.
  • Many Pakistanis are quite casual about deadlines and punctuality, and will often arrive late to an event or social meeting late. However, this is not applicable to all situations.
  • On the (2017), Pakistan is ranked 117th out of 180 countries, receiving a score of 32 (on a scale from 0 to 100). This perception suggests that the country’s public sector is somewhat corrupt.

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