Moving to Islamabad?
Moving to Islamabad
About the city
Islamabad’s population is estimated to be around two million. Urdu is the most spoken language in the city, with English being widely understood.
The mother tongue of most people living in Islamabad is Punjabi (estimated to be around 72%). Other languages spoken include Pashto, Pothohari and Sindhi.
The expat community of the city is estimated to be just under 400,000. Most of these migrants (just under a quarter of a million) are believed to be from the Punjab. Almost 80,000 are from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, just over 75,000 from Sindh, 25,000 from Azad Kashmir, and more than 20,000 from other countries. Other expats hail from Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Gilgit-Baltistan and Balochistan.
Islamabad is a predominantly Islamic city, where over 95% of the population is Muslim. Four percent are Christian, making it the second biggest religion. Hinduism is the religion of 0.02% of the population. Islamabad is a very youthful city, and the majority of the population is between 15 and 64 years old - almost 60%. Less than 3% of the population is over 65. Islamabad’s labor force has been estimated at around 185,000. The unemployment rate is over 15%.
Visas for Pakistan
Pakistan offers a wide range of visas for different categories of foreigners. The most common ones are the tourist and business visa; the latter, thanks to some transnational agreements, can be issued upon arrival to the country and is valid for 30 days; check out the eligible countries. Otherwise, a five year multiple-entry visa can be issued to the nationals of certain countries.
Business visas always require a sponsorship: either the sending or the receiving company should therefore write a letter of intent for any expats moving to Pakistan on a business visa. The exemption list of the nationals that don’t require a visa for entering the country can be found here, with the corresponding time limitations.
Travelling to Islamabad
Islamabad is fairly accessible, with several direct flights a day between the city and European capitals, including London. Pakistan International Airlines is the major airline carrier offering routes to and from Islamabad. For security reasons, alternative overland cross-border travel to or from Islamabad, for example to or from Afghanistan or India, is fraught with security issues, if not impossible, due to border closures. However, it is technically possible to access Islamabad, and of course other destinations in Pakistan, overland, via Iran. However, there are security issues with this option too, with reports of people crossing the border being targets for kidnappings and robberies. It is also worth bearing in mind that crossing the border from Iran can be time consuming and if you are using public transport, the journey requires several buses and taxis.