Zimbabwe's players put their pay dispute to one side to reduce Pakistan to 249-9 on day one of the first Test in Harare.
No 3 Azhar Ali top scored with 78 but Zimbabwe's bowlers claimed regular wickets and only Saeed Ajmal's 49 not out late in the day saved Pakistan from being all out.
The home side only took the field after the Zimbabwe Cricket Union agreed to clear unpaid wages before the second Test next week.
And it appeared to have a galvanising effect as Tinashe Panyangara (3-71) struck twice with the new ball, Pakistan slumping to 27-3 after 14 overs of the morning session.
Ali and his skipper Misbah-ul-Haq forged a 93-run stand for the fourth wicket either side of lunch to repair some of the damage.
But spinner Prosper Utseya (2-55) had Misbah caught by Vusi Sibanda at short midwicket for 53 and Utseya quickly followed with a second wicket, Asad Shafiq (4) held via bat-and-pad by Tino Mawayo at short-leg.
And when seam bowler Shingi Masakadza (2-40) had Ali held at second slip chasing a wide delivery, Pakistan had slumped to 182-8.
Ajmal and Junaid Khan saw them past 200 and extended their ninth-wicket partnership to 67 before Khan became Panyangara's third wicket from the final ball of the day.