Thursday, November 13, 2008

Searching for Bombs, Chemical Weapons or What?

After becoming extremely frustrated last week when my mail was searched, after I left the premises of the courier's office, I wrote an article about how to mail packages in Pakistan. I could not believe that the man did not search the package in front of me, but waited until I left and then searched it. He called me when he found something he thought was questionable in the package, and after reaching home I had to go all the back to the office. I guess the Pakistani government gives mail services permission to search for bombs, chemical warfare or whatnot in any package being sent locally or internationally. Here's all the ins and out of sending mail from Pakistan:

Processes such as using the post office, which are fairly straightforward in your home country, are not necessarily so in countries where bureaucracy pervades the way of life. Save yourself the headaches and time by knowing what to expect before you try to mail a letter or package from Pakistan.

In most major cities in Pakistan there are four options available. From the cheapest to the most expensive, they are the Pakistan Post, OCS, TCS, and Fed Ex. Following are details about sending letters and packages from each of these options.

Pakistan Post

The Pakistan Post, or the government postal service, will be your most affordable option, although it may not be as reliable as other services. While the other services promise 4-5 business day delivery of international mail, letters or packages sent by the Pakistan post can take 2-4 weeks. One letter I sent to Canada even took longer than one month through the Pakistan Post. For low cost, it is a great option, but not for speed.

On the positive side, domestic rates are dirt cheap with a 20 gram envelope costing only 4 rupees (about 5 cents). A heavier envelope up to 2000 grams will not be more than 50 rupees (61 cents). You can send a post card internationally for 26 rupees (30 cents) or a 20 gram letter for 33 rupees (40 cents). A 2000 gram package will cost about 1120 rupees ($13). I've found that most of my letters can be sent internationally for 80 rupees, or about $1. Prices have recently gone up, but as you'll see these rates are much cheaper than those of the competitors.

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