With 17 required off the last over, Ross Taylor (42 not out) and Tim Southee (5 not out) could only get 14 off left-arm seamer Shaheen Afridi as New Zealand, returning to international cricket after seven months, ended 146-6.
Mohammad Hafeez (45) and captain Sarfraz Ahmed (34) had earlier helped Pakistan reach 148-6 after winning the toss and electing to bat.
Opening batsman Colin Munro top scored with 58 off 42 balls, scoring at a brisk pace in the batting power-play before New Zealand were strangled by Pakistan spinners in the middle overs.
Leg-spinner Shadab Khan had Munro caught at long off in the 12th over and then ran out Colin de Grandhomme off a direct throw from backward point.
In between Shadab’s twin strikes, captain Kane Williamson gave a simple return catch to Imad Wasim when he tried to turn around the left-arm spinner and got a leading edge as New Zealand slipped to 89-4.
Fast bowler Hasan Ali (3-35) then took the wickets of Corey Anderson and Tim Seifert in the 19th over to make things difficult for New Zealand.
Anderson struggled to accelerate the scoring during his 12-ball knock of nine runs before holing out in the deep and Seifert was clean bowled. Afridi kept his nerve in the final over and, despite conceding two boundaries, denied New Zealand victory.
Earlier, Pakistan lost both its openers _ Babar Azam (7) and Sahibzada Farhan (1) _ in the batting power-play. Debutant left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel, who opened the bowling, struck off his seventh delivery when he had Farhan caught at deep mid-wicket.
Azam, named man of the series for his prolific scoring in Pakistan’s 3-0 win over Australia last week, was caught behind and Pakistan slipped to 10-2.
Asif Ali (24), promoted at No. 3, and Hafeez put on 67 runs before three smart catches reduced Pakistan to 121-5 in the 18th over.
Southee had Hafeez caught low at point; Glenn Phillips took a splendid catch in the deep to dismiss Asif Ali and Ahmed fell to a well-judged diving catch by Anderson in Ish Sodhi’s last over.
Wasim (14 not out) then hit a four and a six off Southee’s last two deliveries which proved decisive in the end.