Visible improvements in the national security situation over the recent years served as the impetus behind the colossal increase seen in the number of foreign tourists, and businessmen, who visited Pakistan in 2018. In today’s rabidly globalized world (driven by technological advancements and rapid industrial expansion), the South Asian country is being widely touted as a major untapped market all ripe for international conglomerates – and specifically tourism companies – to tap into. The advent of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, part of Beijing’s expansionist strategy to dominate the South East Asian maritime route, has already provided enormous leverage for the development of an efficient and responsive business infrastructure in Pakistan.
And the incumbent government in Islamabad is dead-set on cashing in on foreign financial support to steer a course of stability for the national economy hit by inflation, debt and falling currency. Prime Minister Imran Khan has repeatedly stressed the need for Pakistan to be included among the top 50 countries on the World Bank’s ease of doing business global ranking during the next five years. For this purpose, the national executive, earlier this year, introduced a new, liberal visa regime; which also aims to revive the country’s once-vibrant tourism industry (destroyed by years of insurgency).
For both investors and tourists willing to relocate themselves, favourable policies pertaining to taxation – as well as the provision of low-cost leisure activities – may serve as an incentive to obtaining permanent residency in new states; for which there are some prerequisites:
1. Complete the required paperwork
International travel requires the completion of some basic paperwork; a valid passport and a visa. For acquiring long-term residence permits (in case of most countries), it is mandatory for the visitors to seek a place of employment in order to work as expats.
For foreign travellers, the Pakistani government offers various types of visas; including diplomatic and official visa, student visa, journalist visa, work visa, and business visa to name a few. Visitors can obtain these official endorsements by fulfilling certain requirements prescribed by the country’s Ministry of Interior.
2. Avoid temporary lodgings
Overseas employment does not necessarily guarantee provision of accommodation. During his/her stay in Pakistan, one can easily find temporary residencies (rental properties or hotel rooms), but should always strive for a permanent, secure place to live in. Prior to the relocation, one can sift through property portals (of the host country) in order to select the property that provides the best value for money, as well as comfort. For instance, in Pakistan, online advertisers such as Prop host multiple real estate listings ranging from houses to apartments.
For businessmen and investors, major urban centers including Islamabad, Karachi, and Lahore serve as the ideal destination. Gwadar, a focal point of the multi-billion-dollar CPEC initiative, is fast emerging as the next hub of global investment.
3. Weather conditions are pleasant, buy they can sometimes be scary…
Pakistan is a fabulous country in the sense that it experiences four seasons: winter, spring, summer, and autumn. Some areas (including the country’s northern region as well as some areas of the Punjab and Sindh provinces) undergo extreme weather conditions.
For those not accustomed to frequent shifts in weather patterns, a sound (and practical) advice is to buy clothes that maintain the body temperature at its optimum level. Loose apparels help keep the body ventilated and they also fit in the with the country’s modest culture.
Spring and autumn are relatively short-lived, but they are also the most awesome seasons in the country. Both winter (December-January) and summer (June-July) occasionally result in extreme temperatures. For the winters, one should buy jackets, coats, sweaters, scarves, and warm shoes.
4. Vehicle registration is a must
The government’s regulations make it mandatory for both nationals and expats to register their vehicles with the authorities concerned. Foreign nationals are required to follow certain procedures for this purpose.
The local mediums of transportation range from cycles and motorbikes, to cars and buses. Many people travel on local transports such as rickshaws, wagons, and taxis. Moreover, ride-hailing services such as Uber and Careem have become quite popular with the Pakistani populace in recent times.
5. Get a load of the education and healthcare facilities on offer
In Pakistan, several world-class educational institutes (including the National University of Sciences and Technology and the Quaid-i-Azam University) offer quality degree programmes and courses. From kindergartens to higher-education universities, these educational centres provide quality educational services to the pupils.
Access to both education and healthcare facilities is a basic human right. In Pakistan, there are numerous healthcare centres (both government-owned and private entities) providing exceptional health services. In addition, small clinics are situated within the vicinity of different localities countrywide. There is also an abundant number of pharmacies. Several medicines of common use are available off the counter, but others require a doctor’s prescription.
According to the Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI), Pakistan will be among the six fastest growing economies of the world by 2030. The country has a magnificent past (marked by the remnants of the great Indus Valley Civilization as well as the presence of the marvellous Mughal-Colonial architecture) and a promising future spurred by rapid technological innovations and industrial growth.
It is also one of the few regions in the world that offer all four seasons in a year and a variety of amazing sites, many of which are yet to be explored.
So, good luck on the relocation into the land of rich culture, and incredibly compassionate people.