The tourists started on 139 for two after seizing control on a rain-affected opening day but faltered under a high-class examination to reach 187 for five at lunch.
James Anderson landed the earliest and most valuable prize, dismissing the dangerous Babar Azam without adding to his overnight 69, before Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes weighed in to solidify England's improving position.
Opener Shan Masood continued his slow progress to reach 77 not out in 225 deliveries, but England successfully chipped away at the other end as they conceded just 48 runs in the session.
The morning began with a head-to-head between Babar and Anderson, the former picking up from a wonderful first day and the latter looking to kick up a notch after a modest showing.
It was the Englishman who came out on top, quickly and decisively. After putting Babar on alert with five probing deliveries he drew a loose drive with his sixth, with a thick edge held soundly by Joe Root at slip.
At 38, Anderson has little to prove to anybody but having struggled against Babar's adventurousness on Wednesday, this was a point well made.
With the premier stroke-maker back in the pavilion, Anderson and Broad set about tightening their grip. Together they hammered out a probing line and length and dialling up the pressure with a 28-ball sequence that cost just a single.
The 29th brought deserved reward, Broad dropping just back of a length and getting enough bounce to hit the shoulder of Asad Shafiq's bat and sail through to Ben Stokes at second slip.
Root pumped both fists in celebration as his vice-captain tumbled in front of him, recognising the importance of doubling down on the early success.
By the time England made their first change of the day, their seasoned seamers had sent down 11 overs for 11 runs to grind Pakistan's progress to a halt.
Jofra Archer and Woakes took over as change bowlers and did not allow the pressure to cease. England reached some form of stalemate with Masood, who lingered without inflicting any serious damage, and Mohammad Rizwan was next to falter.
He was unpicked by a beauty from Woakes, shaping in then seaming away to clip the edge on its way to Jos Buttler.