Zimbabwe were still in with a chance of an upset win but Pakistan looked to be in control at the close on the fourth day of the second test in Harare on Friday.
Pakistan, needing 264 for victory, finished on 158 for five and the home side require five wickets to claim a rare test triumph and level the series 1-1. Captain Misbah-ul-Haq (26) and wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal (17) were the not out batsmen.
Pakistan set out positively as they began to chase down the target on a deteriorating pitch showing signs of uneven bounce at Harare Sports Club.
Zimbabwe, who lost three quick wickets in the last three overs on Thursday, began the fourth day seeking to build a formidable second-innings total.
Wickets fell at regular intervals, however, as seamer Rahat Ali claimed five for 52 and spinner Saeed Ajmal took two key wickets despite a subdued performance.
Pakistan opener Khurram Manzoor scored 54 before falling to spinner Prosper Utseya but Mohammad Hafeez failed again as his desperate test form continued.
When Younus Khan was bowled for 29 to reduce Pakistan to 100 for four, Zimbabwe would have fancied their chances but they allowed too many runs in the last hour as the pendulum swung back Pakistan's way.
Zimbabwe have won only two tests - both against Bangladesh - in nine since returning to the test arena in 2011 after a six-year absence.