Opener Mohammad Hafeez made a brave unbeaten 97 to lift Pakistan to 146 for three, 74 runs ahead of England at stumps on a tense third day of the final Test in Sharjah.
England claimed a 72-run first-innings lead to push for a series-levelling victory but Hafeez and Azhar Ali shared an opening partnership of 101 to bring the hosts back into the match.
Ali was farcically run out for 34, James Anderson trapped Shoaib Malik lbw for nought and Stuart Broad dismissed Younis Khan for 14 in the final session to give England hope after they had been bowled out for 306 soon after lunch.
Jonny Bairstow (43) and Samit Patel (42) contributed useful cameos while Ben Stokes came out to bat despite a broken collarbone before being the last man out.
Hafeez, on two, was given out caught behind off Anderson but the opener immediately reviewed the decision and got it overturned.
After adding nine more runs to his score, the right-hander edged Moeen Ali but wicketkeeper Bairstow could not pouch the deflection.
Earlier, England lost three wickets on the third morning after resuming on 222-4.
The visitors' hopes of forging a big first innings advantage on the Sharjah Cricket Stadium's slow surface suffered a double blow when they lost both their overnight batsmen early.