Due to the unfortunate and stigmatizing label politically placed on this region of the world, not many people know about Pakistan. Sadly, they do not know the true face of this amazing country. Its numerous years of conflicts with India have tarnished its image, but there is much more to the story than is often told. However, this is not a political article so we will stick with the lifestyle in Pakistan.
In summary, the lifestyle in Pakistan is quite diversified and more homely than most people may think. Let’s see why…
An Interesting Overview and Comparison with Its Neighboring Country
Let us dive into some interesting facts about this amazing nation and understand how the lifestyle in Pakistan is and what led to its rich cultural heritage.
A Brief Introduction of Pakistan
A South-Asian country ranked as the 33rd largest country based on its area, with its population exceeding 2.1 billion, is the quite familiar Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The major reason behind the global popularity of Pakistan is its strategically important location in terms of military, economy, and politics.
Pakistan is, more or less, a junction between South Asia, West Asia, and Central Asia. The Arabian Sea coastline that is in the south of Pakistan is the major transportation route from developed nations to the landlocked countries Central Asian States. Pakistan is a mix of various cultural identities originating from different backgrounds, each having its values, traditions, and lifestyles. Lifestyle in Pakistan is an interesting fusion of unique living standards, all different from one another yet with one national spirit.
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Tumultuous History of Pakistan
There is a lot of history when it comes to Pakistan. Here’s a series you may like to watch:
Episode 1 – The Beginning (1857-1905)
Episode 2 – Rise From The Ashes (1906 – 1919)
Episode 3 – Back Stabbing (1920 – 1929)
Episode 4 – The Deliverance (1930 – 1939)
Episode 5 – The Resolve (1940 – 1946)
Episode 6 – Kashmir: An Unfinished Saga (1947 – 1948)
Episode 7 – The Miracle
Exclusive & Diverse Lifestyle in Pakistan
The five provinces of Pakistan have distinct identities with their specific traditions. The enchanting culture of each province is a source of admiration for foreign tourists. Originally, there are four provinces of Pakistan namely Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. However, it is also a strategic plan to declare the Gilgit Baltistan region as the fifth province given its significant status as the gateway for CPEC i.e. China Pakistan Economic Corridor.
The Lifestyle of an Average Pakistani
The typical lifestyle of an average Pakistani is not much different from that prevailing in the subcontinent for a long time although the recent influence of western culture is bringing a revolution in ways and standards of living.
The majority of Pakistanis belong to the middle class with enough resources to living a comfortable and respectable life. Lifestyle in Pakistan relies heavily upon strong family bonding which prevails in all provinces of the country despite their distinct traditions. It is preferred generally that parents and children stay together as long as they desire, to take care of one another. This closely knitted family system is quite beneficial for people with restrained financial status.
Unlike the image of Pakistani society set in the minds of western people, an average educated Pakistani is quite up-to-date with the latest technology. You will find them on social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. There are some amazing and rising digital marketing agencies rising in Pakistan. Many youngsters are experts in web development, apps development, content writing, and related services.
In terms of other social activities, each region in Pakistan has its specialties, clothing, entertainment sources, and basic norms. Social media is part of the modern lifestyle in Pakistan.
In addition, an average Pakistani woman has as much freedom as in other countries of the world although there are certain boundaries set by society and religion for their own safety. Average Pakistani women can drive, educate themselves, get suitable employment, participate in politics, and play their role actively in the betterment of society.
The freedom of women in Pakistan is obvious from the fact that the nation even selected a female Prime Minister (Benazir Bhutto) for a significant period. Besides this, there are many other notable names of women in the history of Pakistan who acted as a source of inspiration for both men and women.
Culture of Pakistan Provinces
Lifestyle in Pakistan comprises of a specific culture and living standards of four provinces, each with its charm and attraction. Mainly, the language, way of dressing, and the variety of food set them apart from each other.
Food, Fashion, & Art of Punjab
If we talk about Punjab, it has one of the historical cultures dated back to ancient times that are quite similar to the Indian culture. Punjabi people are quite harmonious and peaceful and strongly believe in the caste system, especially in rural areas. You can say the Punjabi way of life is a beautiful side of lifestyle in Pakistan.
Although Urdu is commonly spoken in Punjab, Punjabi is the regional language of Punjab province. Punjabis love to eat high caloric, spicy cuisines that have become popular worldwide because of their exclusive tastes. These include Biryani, Haleem, Kheer, Jalebi, Samosa, Pakoray, Gulab-Jamans, and many others.
Punjabis usually have a taste for heavily embroidered dresses. The urban people wear Shalwar Kameez of latest trends while the rural people wear turban, kurta, khusa, kola puri chappal, and chori dar pajama. Punjab is popular for its art and craft with beautiful textile, carpets, jewelry, crockery, woodworks, metal arts, stone crafts, sports goods, and truck arts.
Food, Fashion, & Tourist Attractions of Sindh
The lifestyle and culture of the Sindhi people originated from Indus Valley Civilization and have a major influence by the cultures around the Indus River and the Arabian Sea. Sindhi people are also very hospitable, hardworking, and known for their valor. The Sindhi language is marked as the second most spoken language in Pakistan. It also has some influence from the Sanskrit language.
When it comes to food, Sindhi people also love spicy and mouthwatering cuisines such as Sindhi Curry, Sindhi Biryani, Bhaji, Seyal Bhaji, Sindhi Mutton, and Dil Pasand curry. All of these dishes have a unique taste of their own.
In terms of clothing, in the Sindh province, Ajrak (Stole) and Sindhi topi (cap) with beautiful mirror work and hand embroidery are the cultural symbols. Sindhis prefer heavy silver jewelry with unique and attractive designs, often adored by people all over Pakistan. The Sindhi culture is a very famous site of the lifestyle in Pakistan.
Rich Culture of Baluchistan
Concerning the geographical boundaries, Baluchistan is the largest province of Pakistan but with a minimum population since most of the area consists of barren land, mountains, and deserts. Nonetheless, the area is rich in culture, traditions, art, and crafts.
Inhabitants of Baluchistan, known as Baluchis speak Baluchi language resembles many ancient languages i.e. Avesta, Sanskrit, Old Persian, and Pahlavi, which originates from the Iranian branch of Indo-European families residing in the subcontinent.
Baluchi tribes are divided into various sub-tribes that are headed by ‘Malik’ or ‘Mir’ and governed by local ‘Jirgas’ which take major decisions. Their fashion style is different. It has a notable Turban combined with loose shalwar and the knee-long shirt is the cultural dress of Baluchi people.
When it comes to food, one of the most favorite dishes that is loved by the whole of Pakistan is the Baluchi meat dish called ‘Sajji’. Moreover, Baluchistan’s dry fruits are famous all around the globe.
Purity & Beauty of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with its mesmerizing natural landscape is rightfully known as Switzerland of Pakistan. The area has great scenic value and seems like heaven on earth with its gorgeous snow-clad peaks, lush green valleys, glaciers, lakes, rivers, streams as well as fertile land suitable for agriculture. KPK has a great aesthetic value that makes it a perfect place for tourism activities.
The Pakhtun society is highly respectable where the head of the family is a male who provides and takes care of the whole family.
Gandhara Civilization inhabited the area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa until the 11th century AD. Hence, the Pashtun culture has its basic roots in Islam and Pashtunwali and it remains largely unaffected from foreign influences. The provincial language spoken by the majority is Pushto while Urdu is the second most spoken language of the region.
The food here is mostly dry fruits and yogurt-based cuisines, which are the specialty of KPK. The most famous cuisine served in the Pashtun community is ‘Kabli Pulao’. Clothing consists of typical shalwar kameez with a ‘topi’ or a ‘kufi’ on the head. Special Pashtun music and cultural dance are also the basic part of festivals and celebrations in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. KPK’s lifestyle is a unique and very natural face of the lifestyle in Pakistan.
The culture and lifestyle of the four provinces of Pakistan depict the norms and traditions prevailing in different areas where each one is unique and splendid in its ways.
Common Pakistani Traditions
Despite having regional differences in norms and cultures of the four provinces of Pakistan, there are still certain religious and national traditions that bring together all Pakistanis as a single entity. All over the country, people celebrate events like Eid ul Fitr, Eid ul Azha, Independence Day, Pakistan Day, and Defense Day with great zeal and enthusiasm. You can say the Islamic culture is an important part of the lifestyle in Pakistan.
As Pakistan was founded based on Islam, Pakistanis perform their religious practices faithfully. The traditions, customs, clothing, as well as food, conform to the principles of Islam.
Eid Celebrations in Pakistan
Families and friends celebrate Pakistani traditions and festivals like Eid days together. Guests are invited and huge feasts are prepared for dining together. Needy people get help as much as possible at religious festivals. It is part of Islamic teachings to take care of the unfortunate and the needy as part of society. Pakistani are quite friendly, helpful, and approachable while knowing their cultural and religious limits.
Weddings in Pakistan
Weddings in Pakistan are a major part of Pakistani tradition and culture. Subcontinent culture influences much of the culture. Pakistani people celebrate weddings with great euphoria using beautiful floral decorations, tempting food items, and heavily adorned dresses, especially for the bride and groom. There are also various rituals like henna application, dholki nights, bhangra, etc. before the day of the wedding.
Even though a majority of the Pakistani people practice the religion of Islam, Pakistani’s religious beliefs also include Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, and other minority religious systems. Being a Muslim-dominated country, about 97% of Pakistanis practice Islam and believe in the oneness of God while the remaining 3% is shared by Sikhs, Hindus, Christians, and other minorities.
Among Muslims, Sunnism and Shia’ism are two sects that differ in certain beliefs and concepts. In Pakistan, minorities have complete rights and freedom of action and speech so they could live a contented normal life while freely practicing their religious norms.
Pakistani Family Culture
Pakistani family culture is the foundation of a deeply interconnected society that focuses strongly upon relationships. The joint family system is prevalent in Pakistan where the most senior male head is responsible for taking care of the whole family economically and morally. This type of close family system leads to a sense of security, both for the younger and older generation. Because of the same reason, there is a very little percentage of elderly people living in old homes or shelters.
In times of joy or sorrow, Pakistani families stick together at all times and are at each other’s side. Loyalty, honesty, and sharing of important information is very important among family in Pakistani culture.
In comparison to the western world, typical Pakistanis prefer larger families with more children as they consider it a symbol of honor and strength.
Social life in Pakistan
In Pakistan, social life is influenced both by cultural and religious values. Pakistani people are courteous and hospitable and go out of their way to host guests. Most people love social gatherings where food and fun are two main elements. It is a social norm to talk to others in a non-controversial manner to support what the other person is feeling.
To make acquaintances or to solve conflicts, people usually exchange gifts and greetings. People do not keep a grudge for a long time and solve their issues at religious festivals like ‘Eid’ by greeting and hugging each other. Giving respect to elders is a religious as well as societal norm that Pakistanis follow in both rural and urban areas of the country.
Changing Lifestyle in Pakistan
With the advent of technology including social media, there has been increasing western influence upon Pakistani society. This has resulted in the changing lifestyle in Pakistan in various ways. Due to modernization, the nuclear family system is gradually replacing the traditional joint family system. Now couples live separate from join families and take care only of his wife and children.
In addition, more and more females are getting employment and they do not just spend their time in household chores.
People in urban areas prefer to wear western dresses rather than the national dress of Shalwar Kameez. Instead of traditional and ‘desi’ meals at home, several people prefer preserved food or home delivery from food outlets to save time.
Little by little, Pakistani society is modernizing and many of the old cultural norms are being mixed or renewed with modern ways and styles.
Tourism in Pakistan
Tourism is undoubtedly one of the major sources of revenue for Pakistan’s economy. According to Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation, about 1.75 million tourists traveled to Pakistan only in 2017. This is because of the immense scenic beauty of Northern Areas as well as many historical places and monuments in different parts of the country. The British Backpacker Society described Pakistan as ‘one of the friendliest countries on earth, with mountain scenery that is beyond anyone’s wildest imagination’.
Famous Historical Places in Pakistan
There are numerous beautiful and amazing historical places in Pakistan, which are worth visiting once in a lifetime. Some of the most famous are mentioned as follows.
Lahore Fort is one of the most charismatic constructions, built during the Mughal Dynasty, in the 11th century AD, but numerous renovations have taken place over the years. It is a praise-worthy Mughal architecture, constructed in a unique design with the use of luxurious marbles, precious stones, and mosaics of glass and glint.
The Shalimar Gardens built by Shah Jahan in 1641-2, cover an area of 16 hectares. These gardens have eye-catching beauty inspired by Persian and Islamic traditions in their fountains and beautiful lawns.
A very famous historical place in the Larkana District of Sindh Province is Mohenjo Daro, discovered in 1922 during excavation activities. This ancient archeological site dates as back as 3000 BC and it is the world’s oldest civilization after the Chinese. Thousands of tourists visit the Mohenjo Daro ruins every year.
UNESCO designated Qila Rohtas as a world heritage site in 1997. The fort, built as a garrison by Sher Shah Suri in the 16th century, has immense historical significance. Located in District Jehlum of Punjab, it covers an area of 4 km, and its construction was completed in 8 years because of its massive structure.
Ziarat is famous because of the Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s residency which was constructed in 1892 during British colonialism. It is a beautiful historical place, respected and maintained because of its inhabitance by Quaid in his last few countable days. The area has an awesome natural landscape given the fresh and clean mountain air and peaceful environment.
Besides some of these tourist sites mentioned above, Pakistan is a host to numerous fascinating tourist spots such as Fairy Meadows, Kel Valley, Makra Peak, Mazar-e-Quaid, and many others. Each of these places has a significance and charisma of its own.
Upon visiting these sites, you will see that the lifestyle in Pakistan has evolved over several decades.
A Neutral Comparison of India and Pakistan
Being neighboring countries with common roots, India and Pakistan have many similarities in culture and tradition. The major difference between the two nations is due to the ideologies upon which the countries were founded. Pakistan was founded based on the Islamic ideology, hence much of the norms and values are guided by Islamic principles. India on the other hand, was founded based on Hinduism and its beliefs. This religious difference has led to certain contrasting opinions and lifestyles in Pakistan and India.
Living Standards & Economy of Pakistan
The living standards in India and Pakistan are a bit contrasting given the availability of resources. In Pakistan, an average middle-class person has the advantage to live a comfortable and resourceful life.
According to reports on global poverty based upon multi-dimensional poverty index. There is a constant rise and fall when it comes to the economy of both nations. A few years back, India ranked as a poorer country than Pakistan with the greater population living below the poverty line. One reason behind this might be its much greater population size compared to that of Pakistan. Recently, Pakistan is struggling with its GDP whereas India is taking a lead. Here is the latest on this:
Talking about social security, the minority faiths are safer in Pakistan as they have rights and freedom to practice their faiths without any hindrance. Each year, thousands of Sikhs travel from all over the world to ‘Nankana Sahib’ in Pakistan to mark the birth of Sikhism founder ‘Baba Guru Nanak’. In addition, non-Muslim communities celebrate their festivals like Christmas, Easter, etc. with high spirit.
It is noteworthy that while Pakistan strives to be a modern and open society, it has its conservative image in other aspects. For one, gender inequality is more prevalent in Pakistan in offices and society as a whole. Though, generally, across the whole nation (compared to India), Pakistan is a safer and better society for women. The reason for this is the Islamic lifestyle in Pakistan where women are respected and honored.
Differences in Indian & Pakistani Society
Indian and Pakistani societies have a mixture of differences and similarities as both nations emerged from common roots. Pakistan is a conservative nation.
With the Muslim majority, Pakistani society has certain boundaries and limitations set by the religion. Thus, it is a bit conservative in terms of clothing, gender distinction, close family bonding, and strong emphasis upon ethics and moral values. However, with the increasing influence of Bollywood and Indian serials, the lifestyle in Pakistan is getting more liberal with time.
Pakistani cuisines are famous for their rich flavor and tend to focus more on meat dishes. Unlike Indian cuisines are mostly vegetables, pulses, wheat, and rice with less focus on meat.
The dressing of both, countries also differs. Typical Pakistanis prefer Shalwar Kameez while Indians go for western wear or chori dar pajamas, dhoti, and saaris.
Festivals are also different as the Indian community has the majority of Hindu citizens whose major celebrations include Holi, Divali, Raksha Bandhan, etc. On the other hand, the Muslims in Pakistan celebrate Eid ul Fitr, Eid ul Azha, and other Islamic and National Days with enthusiasm.
While talking about economics, undoubtedly India is far ahead of Pakistan as it is one of the biggest economies of the world. According to International Monetary Fund (IMF), India is believed to make a growth of 7.4 % in 2018 7.8 % in 2019 in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The GDP per capita in 2020 for India was 1,982$ and that of Pakistan was 1,260$ for Pakistan.
Even though India has been lagging in improving personal income levels, the country has seen prominent progress with a higher literacy rate and increased life expectancy. According to recent statistics, the GDP per capita of India is 63.6% higher than Pakistan.
Meanwhile, the health system is improving a bit slowly in both countries yet Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) is less by 73% in India and 65% in Pakistan. The statistics show that Pakistan is in greater need to tackle long-term issues like illiteracy, health discrepancies, climate change, natural diseases, over-population, and other such problems to observe economic growth and development.
Hopes for a Brighter Future for Pakistan
Pakistani citizens have a positive attitude towards the Indian economy and the majority of the nationals consider it as a positive example of economic stability and progress despite contradictory viewpoints and opinions. Pakistanis still remember the golden times when Pakistan’s economy was growing at a rapid rate of 7% compared with the growth of China and India in the 80s and 90s era. Unfortunately, the situation of unrest, intolerance, bomb blasts, and drone attacks led to the downfall of economic progress. Nevertheless, Asian Development Bank has predicted Pakistan’s GDP to grow by 5.6% in 2018 and 5.1 % in 2019.
However, the CPEC project (or China Pakistan Economic Corridor), is a ray of hope for a better economic future for the nation. China and Pakistan have been friends for several years and are working together on this. Once completed, it is going to be a major reason for economic stability in the region with both countries at the forefront.
India vs. Pakistan Technology
India is far ahead in technology compared to Pakistan, as it is ranked as one of the top three destinations for business investment. Numerous top-notch companies have plants of their manufacturing companies in India including Samsung, Xiaomi, Spice, Lenovo, Motorola, and others. Indian Government works continuously to garner the attention of foreign investors by raising initiatives like ‘Make in India’. Google and Microsoft’s CEOs are Indian-Americans, which might have played a role in India’s popularity in the international market.
With time, Pakistan is also coming ahead in the field of Information technology. Haier is the first technology-based company that has started to assemble laptops in Islamabad. According to an article recently published in Tribune, a US-based IT Company has transferred its 125 jobs from Noida to Islamabad. Therefore, it is evident that Pakistan is continuously narrowing the gap with the IT sector of India as Pakistan’s IT sector is growing by 20 % per year compared to only 7-8 % in the case of India. 2021 is proving a better time as Amazon is turning to Pakistan and laying a new foundation. There is hope for a brighter future yet!
Higher Education in India vs. Pakistan
The higher education system of Pakistan still has a long way to go. The Pakistani government needs to invest more in the education sector and strive to increase the literacy rate and gender gap to improve its education system.
According to the recent figures, Pakistan spends the least amount on education in the whole South Asian region i.e. 3.1 % of GDP. A couple of years ago it was 2.2%. This is the reason that majority of the talented students, these days, struggle for getting higher education from foreign well-ranked universities. The female literacy rate also needs to be improving, as it is only 44 % compared to 70 % for the male population.
Educational Comparison with its Neighbor
On the other side, India has improved a lot in terms of education as its literacy rate has increased from 16 % (in 1951) to 72 % (in 2015). Some of the universities are Indian Institute of Technology has emerged as top-ranked in the world as these mimic the foreign institutes like MIT and train their students according to the demand of the industry. Indian institutes welcome foreign researchers and scholars for short-term as well as long-term visits who contribute to their growth and innovation. This approach needs to be learned by Pakistan where academic visitors are tightly restricted and confined that they do not feel at ease to visit again.
Conclusion of Lifestyle in Pakistan
Pakistan is an enriched country. You can say the lifestyle in Pakistan is unique, diverse culture, and is an aspiring society. The need of the hour is to utilize our resources in an efficient manner and director the country towards the path of progress. Pakistan is striving to achieve growth, development, and prosperity. It is difficult to talk about Pakistan without its rival nation. Both have a role to play in one another’s history and present life. With each country having its global importance and attributes, both Pakistan and India can work towards their goals while backing each other instead of indulging in contradictory views and opinions since peace is the key to success.