Things to know about Islamabad
Although Islamabad may look relatively modern, superficially hinting at a Western lifestyle, there are some basic guidelines to keep in mind given the cultural values of Pakistan's society:
- People are very friendly and indeed very good hosts. Many of Islamabad's citizens are well-educated and speak English very well, working for the government and in the private sector. Be gracious in accepting invitations to people's houses for lunch, tea or dinner: it will reflect well on you if you verbally ensure that you are causing them no inconvenience.
- Generally, women do not shake hands with men, though this varies greatly by social class, social setting, age and personal upbringing. A good rule of thumb for both men and women: do not shake hands with members of the opposite sex unless they extend their hands first (in which case it would be rude of you not to shake hands). The best way to greet someone is to nod and say "Assalam-u-alaikum": smiling always helps!
- Don't consume alcohol in public.
- It's a good idea to avoid taking photographs of military establishments, police stations and anyone in uniform (army officers wear khaki, naval officers wear white, and the Islamabad police wear navy blue trousers with a light blue shirt). If in doubt, permission can be requested from the officers concerned.
- Islamabad is relatively safe, compared to other Pakistani cities, or indeed most other capital cities: violent crime is very rare, but use precautions as you would in any other city.