ISLAMABAD: The United States has on Wednesday updated its warning for “non-essential travel” to “Warning for all travel” to Pakistan, citing ‘bad security situation in the country.’
In the light of fresh warning, US citizens have been instructed to avoid traveling to Pakistan amid worsening ‘security condition.’
The document mentions that Pakistan has been experiencing significant terrorist violence, including sectarian attacks.
“Targeted attacks against government officials, humanitarian and non-governmental organization (NGO) employees, tribal elders, and law enforcement personnel are common. Throughout Pakistan, foreign and indigenous terrorist groups continue to pose a danger to U.S. citizens. Evidence suggests that some victims of terrorist activity have been targeted because they are Americans. Terrorists and criminal groups have resorted to kidnapping for ransoms,” the document warns.
According to the warning statement, “the Government of Pakistan maintains heightened security measures, particularly in major cities, following attacks or in response to threats.”
Terrorists have targeted:
- Heavily guarded facilities, such as military installations and airports
- Universities, schools, and hospitals
- Places of worship of various faiths
- Rallies, public parks, and sports venues
- Hotels, markets, shopping malls, and restaurants
The document also quoted casualty figures from the terror attacks happening in the last months of 2016 and then in February this year, as a ‘main reason’ to warn its citizens from traveling to Pakistan.
“Sectarian violence remains a serious threat throughout Pakistan, and the Government of Pakistan continues to enforce blasphemy laws. Religious minority communities have been victims of targeted killings and accusations of blasphemy,” the document says.
Travel by U.S. government personnel within Pakistan is restricted and movements by U.S. government personnel outside of Islamabad are severely restricted. U.S. government personnel may not:
Attend services at places of worship without prior approval.
Use public transportation or stay overnight at hotels in Pakistan.
Precautions before traveling to Pakistan:
If you choose to live or travel in Pakistan despite this warning, you should:
- Vary travel routes and timing, especially for routine trips.
- Minimize the duration of trips to public markets, restaurants, and other locations.
- Minimize the number of U.S./western nationals congregating in any one location at any time.
- Avoid hotels that do not apply stringent security measures.
- Take a photo of your passport, entry stamp and Pakistani visa, and keep it with you at all times. Keep digital copies of these documents in a secure, electronically accessible place.
For further information:
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier for us to locate you in an emergency.
- Contact the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, located at Diplomatic Enclave, Ramna 5, Islamabad, Pakistan, by email at [email protected] The after-hours emergency assistance number for U.S. citizens is (92)(51) 201-4000 or (92)(51)201-5000.
- Contact the U.S. Consulate General in Karachi, located at Plot 3-5 New TPX Area, Mai Kolachi Road. The after-hours emergency assistance number for U.S. citizens is (92-21) 3527-5000.
- Contact the U.S. Consulate General in Lahore, located at 50, Shahrah-e-Abdul Hameed Bin Badees, (Old Empress Road) near Shimla Hill Circle. The after-hours emergency assistance number for U.S. citizens is (92-42)3603-4000.
- Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
This article was originally published in BlackBird