Local Laws in Pakistan: How to Stay Out of Trouble

Pakistan has serious laws regarding drug offences, blasphemy, unlawful assembly and homosexuality. This is what travelers need to know.

Shrine of saint Jhurial Shah and the mosque alongside Photo © Getty Images/Bashir Osman's Photography

In addition to government sanctioned laws, there is also Islamic law to consider in Pakistan. Pakistan is a Muslim country that experiences severe sectarian violence. Most of the laws reflect religion and the beliefs of the government, and the enforcement of these laws is strict.

Drug laws in Pakistan

Despite some wide spread drug use in various areas of Pakistan, the penalty for drug offences tends to be quite severe, and does include the death penalty. Even possessing small quantities of "soft" drugs for personal recreational purposes can result in long jail sentences, heavy fines, deportation or all of them at once.

Blasphemy laws

Pakistan also has the death penalty for serious crimes such as murder and rape, but it also includes blasphemy and unlawful assembly. So, if a member of the police or security services informs you that you are, or are about to commit blasphemy, take it very seriously as the sentences are serious.

If you think some of these laws are onerous, be very careful about what you say in Pakistan as attempting to convert a Muslim or encouraging one to abandon religion altogether is illegal.

LGBTQ+ laws in Pakistan

Certain forms of sexual conduct are illegal under Pakistani law. Homosexuality and sodomy are both illegal, with penalties ranging up to life imprisonment. It is also illegal for unmarried heterosexual couples to live together, although the punishment is not as severe as those for homosexual activities.

Be aware that LGBTQ+ community experiences discrimination, so for LGBTQ+ travelers in Pakistan it's best to keep your sexual orientation discreet to avoid any unwanted attention or harassment from locals.

What you can't bring into Pakistan

Importation of alcohol or pork related products is illegal in Pakistan. Punishment is serious, so don't even try to bring these products into the country.

It is rare, but corporal punishment is sometimes enforced for Muslims who commit such crimes as robbery, public drunkenness, and general consumption of alcohol.

Other local customs to be aware of in Pakistan

There are certain things that aren't quite illegal, but should be avoided. Avoid taking photographs of airports, military and government buildings or installations – or anything that might be considered sensitive.

Pakistan is a Muslim country, and visitors must be careful not to offend the strict Islamic codes of dress and behavior, this may cause unwanted attention from both the locals and the police. Try to wear long sleeved clothing at all times, and avoid public displays of affection.

Sadly, women may be targets of harassment, and especially so if they are unaccompanied by a friend or a man.

During Ramadan, eating, drinking and smoking between sunrise and sunset is forbidden for Muslims, and while technically not illegal for non-Muslims, this is something that should be avoided in public just to stay on the safe side.

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  • nate n said

    This is very helpful! Thanks!

  • Gary hart said


  • Muhammad Khan said

    Hello sirs
    Basicly one of my friend is homosexual and he want to come back uk to pakistan is there any chance to live a life freely or is there any protection from any organisations
    What will happen with him... and his family also know he is gay and they don't like him
    They said to him when you will come they will burn him etc so he is scare is there any solution..

  • erza said

    The stories people tell you are way too much. Yes it is forbidden in Pakistan to have a same sex marriage. Its not like they are gonna burn you or something. If you stay low key no one will even bother ,because people are too busy solving their own problems.

  • ding said

    ding dong your opinion is wrong

  • Cyril Rioli said

    Go home

  • A said

    It is not illegal for heterosexual couples to live together. However there is no protection under the law, which allows extra-judicial prejudice from society and corrupt law enforcement.

    The provision pertaining to cohabitation of unmarried couples, appears after addition to Protection of Women Act, 2006, it states:

    "493A. Cohabitation caused by a man deceitfully inducing a belief of lawful marriage
    Every man who deceitfully causes any woman who is not lawfully married to him to believe that she is lawfully married to him and to cohabit with him in that belief, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to twenty-five years and shall also he liable to fine."

  • adam said

    pakistan is not Islam, because Laws are from Quran, which is from the Creator. Not only Pakistan, but most likely all nations.

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