Do's and Don'ts
- Expect a Pakistani to behave rather formally and seriously when meeting them for the first time. They will generally relax and become more playful as you get to know them.
- Make an effort to ask about a Pakistani’s well-being and their family when you see them.
- Pay attention to smaller acts of hospitality and courtesy by consistently offering to put others before yourself. It is expected that you are considerate of other’s needs without them having to articulate what those are.
- Expect people to express mild discontent with the country’s state of affairs. Politics, religion, terrorism and conflict are discussed quite frequently among Pakistanis. However, consider that these are personal topics and people may not want to have that conversation with you unless you are a close friend.
- If presenting criticism, offer praise followed by suggestions on improvement that can apply to everyone present. Do not single out the person who made a mistake. statements should only be spoken in private with those you know well.
- Barter and bargain when purchasing handicrafts and homewares. Most shopkeepers are likely to give a substantial discount from the quoted price, and it helps form relationships.
- Never insult a Pakistani in public. This is highly disrespectful and considered a act of dishonour.
- Do not criticise a person’s preferred political party, their friends or their choices. All these denigrations can cause deep offence.
- In more conservative settings, do not denounce or critique religion; only provide praise and appreciation. More broadly, a Westerner’s interest in religion can be viewed with suspicion. Therefore, avoid being the one to bring up the topic.
- Avoid rushing or hurrying a Pakistani.
- When expressed in English, sarcasm can risk being misunderstood and causing offence.
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