On Friday 8th December the US State Department updated its travel advisory for Pakistan –
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all non-essential travel to Pakistan. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning dated May 22, 2017.
Consular services provided by the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, the Consulate General in Karachi, and the Consulate General in Lahore are often limited due to the security environment. At this time, the Consulate General in Peshawar is not providing consular services.
Pakistan continues to experience 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. Terrorists have targeted U.S. diplomats and diplomatic facilities in the past, and evidence suggests they continue to do so. Terrorists and criminal groups have resorted to kidnapping for ransom.
The Government of Pakistan maintains heightened security measures, particularly in major cities, following attacks or in response to threats.
Terrorists continue to target:
- Heavily guarded facilities, such as military and government 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
In Balochistan, insurgent and terrorist groups conducted numerous suicide bombings, hand grenade attacks, and ambushes on Pakistani security forces and civilians over the past six months. A suicide bomber in Quetta targeted senior police officers near Shuhada Chowk, killing 14 people and wounding 30. In Chaman, a suicide bomber attacked a police convoy, killing three police officials and injuring 20 others. Two hand grenade attacks in Gwadar and Mastung injured 41 people. In Quetta, a suicide bomber killed 21 people and wounded 45 in an attack on the Pishin bus terminal. A suicide bomber in Jhal Magsi attacked worshippers at the Sufi shrine of Pir Rakhyal Shah in the Fatehpur area, killing 19 and injuring 30. A suicide bomber in Quetta attacked a police convoy on the Sibbi Road in the Saryab mill area, killing seven and wounding 23.
In Punjab province, three suicide bombings targeting police and military officials in Lahore killed at least 47 and injured more than 100 others.
In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province and the Federally Administered Tribal areas (FATA), there have been numerous recent attacks by insurgent and terrorist groups targeting government officials, NGO/Aid workers, religious minorities, and civilians to include over 67 improvised explosive devices (IED), 148 reported occurrences of small arms fire, 28 known assassination attempts, and 17 kidnappings. Assassination and kidnapping attempts are common throughout these areas. Terrorist organizations operating in the area have not discriminated between government officials and civilians.
Since May 2017, the following significant attacks have occurred: in Parachinar, an IED targeting the Tori Market killed 67 civilians and injured 75; in Jamrud, an IED attack targeting peace committee workers killed at least five civilians; in Charsadda, at least five IEDs exploded, injuring 14 people; IEDs targeting Peshawar Hospital injured five people; and in Peshawar the detonation of a “toy bomb” killed one child and injured six.
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 local government restricts access for foreigners to many areas, including:
- the FATA near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border,
- Swat Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province,
- the area adjacent to the Line of Control in the disputed territory of Kashmir,
- Much of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province and Balochistan.
Travel by U.S. government personnel within Pakistan is restricted, and movements by U.S. government personnel outside of U.S. diplomatic facilities in Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, and Peshawar are sometimes severely restricted depending on local circumstances and security conditions, which can change suddenly.
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, government and military institutions, 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.
Advisory Notice to Airmen (NOTAM): The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a NOTAM concerning the risks to civil aviation operating in Pakistan, particularly at low altitude, during the arrival and departure phases of flight, and when on the ground, due to extremist/militant activity. The Advisory NOTAM does not prohibit U.S. operators or airmen from operating in the specified area, as it is strictly an advisory notice.
For background information on FAA flight prohibitions and advisories for U.S. civil aviation, see the Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices.
Click here to view the original, as well as contact information for the US Embassy in Islamabad.
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