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Countries Information & Lifestyle
 Pakistan Pakistan

Country Information & Lifestyle

 Shangri-La

Shangri-La

Pakistan is a large country in South Asia located along the Arabian Sea, strategically located astride the ancient trade routes of the Khyber and Bolan passes between Asia and Europe. It is surrounded by Afghanistan to the west and northwest, Iran to the southwest, India to the east and China to the northeast.

Pakistan is one of the few countries in the world which has every kind of geological structure. Sea, desert, green mountains, dry mountains, mountains covered with ice, rivers, rich land to cultivate, water resources, waterfalls, forests etc. The mountain K2 is the second highest peak in the world.

Pakistan has a climate that is mostly hot, dry desert, temperate in the northwest, arctic in the north, fertile and sub humid heat in the Punjab region.

The country is so huge and diverse this will only give you just a taste of what this beautiful country has to offer.

Karachi is the capital of Sindh province and is located on the shores of the Arabian Sea. It is the financial and commercial centre as well as being the largest port. The pace is hurried and social attitudes more liberal than elsewhere in Pakistan. Clifton and Defence, by the sea, have the trendiest shopping malls, boutiques and restaurants and are two of Karachi's most affluent neighbourhoods. The old city centre of Saddar Town contains old markets.

Hawke's Bay Beach is the breeding ground for endangered turtles and French Beach is often cited as Karachi's most beautiful beach. Karachi has several islands, visit Manora Island where the Talpurs gave up the British. Chuma Island has the only coral reef and a marine park.

Approximately 190 km from Karachi is the Hingol National Park, the largest in Pakistan. Here you can see wildlife in its natural habitat and swim in the underground Hingol River. Kund Malir beach is a beautiful desert beach near Hingol, it lies next to the huge mountains and together gives the wild look to the place. Visit one of the last juniper forests on the globe in the Ziarat Valley.

Hyderabad has traditionally old city buildings topped by Manghu or badgir which looks like chimneys on roof tops. They catch the cool breezes which blow steadily from south-west to north-east during the hot summer days beginning in late April.

In a few old sections of the town, cows still roam the streets giving it a distinctly medieval atmosphere. Visit the historic Hyderabad Fort, shop in the narrow lanes of Resham Ghiti and Shahi Bazaar and you must visit the Bombay Bakery and try the speciality cakes, especially the Macaroon.

Sukkur lies on the west bank of the Indus River. The historical ruins of the city of Aror, Bukkur Island, Sadh Belo Temple of the river are just some of the places to visit. Mirpur Khas is considered the Gateway to Thar Desert. It is famous all over the world for its mango farms.

Punjab province is home to half the population of Pakistan. In the heart of the capital Lahore is the Walled or Inner City, a very densely populated area of about one square kilometre. The Walled City is one of the oldest cities in the world and is comprised of Lahore Fort where the Mughal and Sikh legacy survives, the Badshahi Mosque, Minar-e-Pakistan or the Eiffel Tower of Pakistan in the park, the Inner City is full of shrines and palaces.

The Mall is lined with colonial-Gothic buildings from the British Raj and in the suburbs of Gulberg and Defence are palatial mansions and trendy shopping districts. Faislabad is the oldest area of Lahore and where you will find remains of buildings which mainly belonged to the British Raj.

The regions of Swat and Peshawar have become volatile and unstable with fighting between the Taliban and Pakistani military. Before travelling to these northwest regions check with travel advisories.

The Khyber Pass is the main route between Pakistan and Afghanistan and crossing the Khyber has always been something of an adventure. Today, it is far too dangerous for most travellers.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa offers spectacular landscape and cultural diversity. Peshawar is the business and administrative hub. Surrounded by high walls with 20 entry gates. Much of the surrounding area is still under the jurisdiction of tribal alwa. These areas can only be visited with a permit from the relevant authorities.

A visit to the old interior city, the Peshawar Fort and to KisaKhawani the story teller bazaar. If you manage to visit this wild and beautiful area of Pakistan you will find it is inhabited by the Kalash people, the last of the non-Islamic tribes of Kafiristan.

A relatively quiet city, Islamabad consists of mainly Federal Government offices, Parliament House, the official residences of the President and Prime Minister along with the Diplomatic Enclave, an area next to the Parliament House dedicated to foreign embassies and missions appointed in Pakistan; it serves as a base camp for people from the south and coastal areas visiting the valleys and northern areas like Gilgit Hunza Skardu and chitral located in the Himalayas mountains. Peaceful noise-free atmosphere with lot of greenery and nice surrounding scenery.

The Karakoram Highway runs between Western China and Pakistan and is one of the few routes that cross the Himalayas. Following the KKH is considered one of the classic journeys of the travel world, it is also the highest international road in the world. Historically this was an old caravan trail the Chinese and Pakistani governments have built a highway.

Abbottabad is north of Islamabad on the Karakoram Highway and is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Pakistan. Havelian is a town in the Hazara region 12 km from Abbottabad on the Silk route lying at the foothills of the Himalayas.

The town is the hub of Hazara culture and traditions and an initial point of Karakorum Highway where a wonder of world begins. Visit the ancient stone Havelies, centuries old Khanqah Mehbobabad monastery, watermills, shrines, and the north-bound last railway station established in 1880s by the British Indian railways, preserved as such, where foot stones of platform narrate the tales of old Viceroys, Generals, dignitaries and eminent writers such as Rudyard Kipling.

Rawalpindi is a bustling town strategically located between the Punjab and Azad Kashmir. It has strong colonial influence and possesses a large military cantonment with the headquarers of the Pakistan Army.

The Kagham Valley is among the most beautiful valleys of the world. It has mountains, dales, lakes, water-falls, streams and glaciers in unspoiled paradise. Shogran is the most beautiful place in the valley.

9 km from Naran is Lake Saif ul Malook, a beautiful and enchanting lake with crystal clear water. The lake is named because Prince Saif ul Malook supposedly drowned here together with his beloved fairy princess by her jealous demon lover. The access to the lake is by jeep, horses and walking tracks from Naran.

The Swat Valley is located close to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and has high mountains, green meadows, clear lakes and plenty of natural beauty. Malam Jabba is a Hill Station in the Karakorm Mountain range and is known as the "Switzerland of the Region". It is home to the largest ski resort in Pakistan. Miandam is a small summer resort 56 km from Saidu Sharif. The road passes small villages stacked up the hillside, the roofs of one row of houses forming the street for the row of houses above. By the time you reach the small town of Madyan, 60 km from Mingora, the mountains have closed in and the valley is almost snug.

The picturesque Bashigram Valley near Madyan is inhabited by simple and hospitable folk. Trek to hidden lakes such as Lake Spin Khwar and Lake Daral situated at the northeast of Sidgai Lake. The trail to Daral runs over sky touching heights of the mountains and provides spectacular sights and panoramas of beauty.

Mangla is a small, beautiful and modern town 110 km from Islamabad where there is the world's third largest earth-filled dam on the river Jehlum. From an old Gakkhar Fort there is a panoramic view of the Mangla lake. Cross Mangla Lake by boat to Ramkot Fort located opposite the town of Mirpur.

Balochistan is the largest and most remote province, its lack of infrastructure can make for rough traveling. Quetta is an excellent base for exploring the province and can rightly be called the "Fruit Basket" of Pakistan. All varieties of fruit are grown here, along with almonds, pistachios and saffron. The inhabitants of the province include many different tribes and are known to be hospitable to visitors.

Hazarganji literally means "Of a Thousand Treasures". In the folds of these mountains, legend has it, that, there are over a thousand treasures buried, reminders of the passage of great armies down the corridors of history. Visit the former bungalow of Field Marshal Montgomery in the Command and Staff College Museum.

Gilgit-Balistan is one of the major hubs for all mountaineering expeditions to the peaks of Karakoram and the Himalayas. Gilgit is the largest town along the Karakoram Highway before entering China. Karimabad is supposedly the setting for the James Hilton's book Shangri-La, and the valley lives up to its reputation. The valley is abundant in roses, lilies, pansies, willow, cherry blossom and fir trees, along with all manner of fruit and almond trees.

Visitors to the Hunza Valley are overwhelmed by the rugged charm, the fragrant breeze singing through graceful poplar trees and the velvet-like green carpet of wheat fields set against a background of snow-covered mountains.

Ganish is the oldest village in the heart of the Hunza guarded by an old watchtower and fort. The Lower Hunza valley is famous for mulberry, high quality grapes and various fruits. Hunza is one of the most exotic places in Pakistan. The fairy-tale like castle of Baltit, above the capital Karimabad, was built about 600 years ago.

The Wagah border between Pakistan and India has a ceremony every day and is a must see for all. Crossing the Wagah border and visiting the Golden Temple is a lifetime experience.

Pakistani cuisine is a refined blend of various regional cooking traditions of South Asia and is known for its richness and flavor. Pakistanis eat a wide variety of bread ranging from chapati, tandoor roti, paratha and Naan. Various pulses or vegetables make up an important part of the Pakistani dishes.

Within Pakistan cuisine varies greatly from region to region, reflecting the country's ethnic and cultural diversity. Pakistani dishes are known for having aromatic and sometimes spicy flavors.

Meat is a major ingredient in most dishes, the variety is endless. Seekh Kabab is a long skewer of minced beef usually served with herbs and seasonings. Aloo gosht is spiced meat and korma, a dish of Mughai origin, typically eaten with naan or bread. Biryani is a very popular dish and has many varieties such as Lahori and Sindhi biryani.

Dishes made with rice include many varieties of pulao such as yakhni where meat and stock is added or matar pulao made with peas. Nihari beef simmered for several hours eaten with naan, is one of the spiciest curries. In the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, feasts using mountains of spiced rice combined with pieces of slowly roasted lamb are often served for guests of honour. For dessert try kulfi a traditional pistachio flavoured ice cream and of course tea or chai, as it is referred to in Pakistan, is popular throughout the country.

This glimpse of Pakistan we hope has shown you just what a beautiful country it is.

Purchasing a Property

There are two types of properties in Pakistan; one is private property and the other is property of different organizations operating under the government of Pakistan such as LDA, FDA, KDA, as well as Housing schemes.

Before purchasing real estate in Pakistan a complete and thorough search in respect of title of the seller must be carried out. Original title document in favour of the vendor must be obtained along with other relevant documents including mutation in favour of the vendor, a fresh copy o

Sale of real estate in Pakistan takes place through a title document known as a Sale Deed except in certain cases e.g.purchase of real estate in Defence Housing Authority(DHA) or in a housing society where sale deed is not executed for transfer of title and an allotment letter/transfer letter from the authority or the society as the case may be is deemed to be the title document.

Title in an immovable property is only deemed to transfer once such Sale Deed or title document has been executed. A sale deed must be affixed with requisite stamp duty and it must be registered with the relevant sub-registrar. After registration of the Sale Deed with the sub-registrar it must be ensured that a mutation of such sale is entered in the register of mutations kept and maintained by the patwari.

If the vendor is selling the property in the capacity of an attorney of the owner then it must be ensured that the power of attorney is affixed with appropriate stamp duty and it has been duly registered with the relevant sub-registrar. If possible, contact should be made with the owner(s) of the property and authenticity of the power of attorney must be confirmed. A holder of a forged and fabricated power of attorney may not be able to transfer a valid title in an immovable property to a third party.

Non-resident Pakistanis, overseas Pakistanis and foreigners may also purchase immovable property in Pakistan. Their presence in Pakistan at the time of execution of the title document is not necessary.

After the property title has been thoroughly checked out a deposit is paid and a completion contract signed by both parties with relevant conditions including a set time to pay the remainder of the payment. This is signed a through a lawyer at nearest session court/Ketchery, complete the deed of transfer, this will include the land registration fee and local taxes paid by the buyer.

It is common practice in Pakistan to hire a lawyer to draft the sale purchase agreement. People who cannot afford lawyers hire a deed writer costing around PKP 1,000.

Fees & Taxes

Property tax is a provincial tax levied on the value of property. It is generally levied at a flat rate of 10% but the tax rates vary, depending on the province.

Property tax is levied at progressive rates in the Punjab province. In the province of Sindh, property tax is levied at a flat rate of 20% on the annual rental value of the land and building.

Capital Gains realized from selling property is not taxable.

There are no inheritance taxes in Pakistan.

Rental income from leasing property is subject to a final withholding tax of 5% the gross rent.

Residents are taxed on their worldwide income at progressive rates, up to 25%.

Advertisement of transaction in newspapers inviting objections PKR 10,000

Hire of deed writer or lawyer to draft sale purchase agreement PKR 5,000

Conveyance stamp duty 3% of property value.

Capital value tax (CVT) decreased from 4% to 2.5% of the property value. This tax is applicable in urban areas for residential property exceeding an area of one kanal and in case of commercial properties without any threshold of land area or size of the property. However, where the value of such a property is not recorded, the CVT is payable at Rs.100 per square yard of land area.Registration fee 1% of the property value.

Town Tax 1% of the property value.

The Non-objection certificate in favour of the seller is included in the price.

Visas

Visas are required by nationals from most European and English-speaking countries. A Pakistan visa allows you to enter the country up to six months from the date you get it, and stay up to three months from the date you enter. Almost all nationalities require visas.

These are usually easier to obtain in your home country, though recently the individual missions around the world have been given more authority to issue visas without checking in with Islamabad, which should help in getting applications turned around quicker.

Recently a list of 24 "Tourist Friendly Countries" (TFC) was announced that are eligible for one month visas on arrival if they travel through a designated/authorized [3] tour operator who will assume responsibility for them while in the country. Any extensions on this type of visa must also be done through the tour operator. They include: Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, UK and USA.

Nationals of most other countries (and those not wanting to travel with a tour operator and group) need to apply in advance for a visa, which are usually issued for 30-90 days depending on nationality and where you apply. Double-entries are sometimes given, but be clear and persistent when applying that you need this.

A handful of countries are issued visas on arrival: Iceland, Maldives and Zambia for 3 months, Hong Kong, Nepal and Samoa for 1 month, while Tonga and Trinidad and Tobago nationals can stay for an unlimited amount of time.

Nationals of Israel are not allowed entry as it is not recognised as a nation by Pakistan. Despite much online information to the contrary, Israeli stamps and visas would usually pose no problems for entry into Pakistan, though you may be subject to more stringent questioning by immigration officers.

Indian nationals can apply for 30 day tourist visas but must travel in a group through an authorised tour operator. Visitor visas to meet relatives or friends are more easy to obtain, and come with some restrictions. Religious visas are granted for groups of 10 or more for 15 days.

Nationals of Afghanistan are refused entry if their passports or tickets show evidence of transit or boarding in India.

Holders of Taiwan passports are refused entry except in airport transit.

Business visas are now being issued for up to 5 years, multiple entry, as soon as 24 hours before arrival.

If travellers are staying longer than 30 days, they are required to register at a foreigners' registration office; these are in the larger towns and cities.

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