Abdul Razzaq led the way with two for 32 after his former Middlesex team-mate and England stand-in captain Andrew Strauss had won the toss and batted here on Thursday.
Alastair Cook, dropped on nought, was 22 not out with Paul Collingwood unbeaten on 12 at the interval.
Pakistan's performance was all the more creditable as they were without three of their leading quick bowlers.
Spearhead Shoaib Akhtar, not expected to play until the fourth and final Test at The Oval in August because of an ankle injury and yet to join the tour, had been joined on the sidelines by Rana Naved-ul-Hasan after the paceman was ruled out of the whole trip with a groin problem.
And Pakistan's pace bowling resources were newly-depleted when Mohammad Asif was ruled out Wednesday with an elbow injury.
In addition, Pakistan also had to omit injured batsmen Shoaib Malik (elbow) and vice-captain Younis Khan (knee).
Initially left-handed openers Marcus Trescothick and Strauss scored briskly against Mohammad Sami and Umar Gul, Asif's replacement, and England's fifty came up in 51 balls.
But Pakistan hit back by taking two wickets for no runs to leave England 62 for two.
Trescothick (16) went first, playing away from his body and edging Gul to wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal, fit following a finger injury sustained against England A last week.
Then Strauss, in his first Test as England captain with regular skipper Michael Vaughan (knee) and first-choice stand-in Andrew Flintoff (ankle) both injured, exited six balls later.
He was lbw for 30 to a delivery that came back in from first-change Razzaq, who was back at his former county's home ground.
And England should have been 60 for three when Cook edged Gul, only for Imran Farhat, diving across from second slip, to drop a chance that was heading straight to first slip and Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq.
Kevin Pietersen then drove Sami and Razzaq down the ground for four.
But, after striking four boundaries in his 21, the South Africa-born batsman, not playing a stroke and on the backfoot, was lbw to Razzaq after the ball came in against the slope.
The tourists had now reduced England to 88 for three on an overcast morning.
Collingwood, on nine, then appeared fortunate to survive an lbw appeal from leg-spinner Danish Kaneria.
Pakistan, who beat England 2-0 at home in a three-match Test series late last year, have not lost a Test series in England since 1982 and recently leapfrogged England into second place in the International Cricket Council's Test rankings.
But England did received some good news before this match when Ashes-winning seam bowler Matthew Hoggard was included in their side after being passed fit despite having six stitches inserted into his right, bowling, hand during a warm-up accident while on A team duty last week.