Another Aspiring Theoretical Physicist
Dear Aspiring theoretical physicist, Assalamoalaikum and good luck on your journey. I am on the same boat too.
Priority no.1 is US.
As u mentioned staying in Pakistan, then of course your first priority is LUMS. DO NOT listen to the people who say that LUMS SSE is new and untested. Their talk's plain ********; the faculty, labs and opportunities for theoretical Physics at LUMS are unparalleled in Pakistan. Of course they have the issue of holding back their faculty but still their faculty is the best you've got.
If at all u don't go to LUMS (due to financial aid issue or twist of fate or whatever), then I would recommend NUST CAMP. Their faculty is second best to LUMS(although two of their teachers Munir Rahsid and Asghar Qadir are one of their kind in Pakistan). They will build a sound foundation for theoretical Physics.(LUMS is good for Theory and Experiment both)
If u don't go to either of these, then I would recommend COMSATS Islamabad or Lahore campus(I don't know which one's better).
Then comes GCU or FC or PU. Go visit these, meet faculty and senior Physics students and you'll know which one's better.
If all roads are closed, then go for engineering. Although some people would argue going for engineering after you don't get into LUMS or NUST. Don't leave Physics!
As far as Abdul Salam is concerned, in those days GCU had a great department. And yes u always have the option of doing Math and then Physics. Google 'The Subtle connections between Math and Physics' and you'll find some good read.
I am from the class of 2014. Took a gap year, applied to US, got rejected from all.
Got into LUMS but financial aid issue kept me from going there(partially my fault as I applied after the deadline). Then I looked towards CAMP but my parents coerced me into EE at NUST. I am still thinking of transferring to CAMP or SSE. Pray that I find my path. May you find yours.