US advises its citizen to reconsider their travel to Pakistan
WASHINGTON: The Trump administration on Wednesday advised its citizens to reconsider their visit to Pakistan and asked them not to travel to Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province due to threat of possible terror attacks.
In its latest travel advisory, days after cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan‘s party won the July 25 elections, the State Department also asked its citizens not to travel to “Azad Kashmir” area due to threat of terrorism and potential threat of armed conflict between the two South Asian neighbours.
Interestingly, the State Department used the term “Azad Kashmir” to describe the area of Jammu and Kashmir illegally occupied by Pakistan or the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). Earlier, they used to refer PoK as the one administered by Pakistan. Also, the State Department has used the term “militants” for the terrorists in PoK while for those in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) as terrorists, separatists and insurgents.
“Do not travel to the Azad Kashmir area. Militant groups are known to operate in the area. The threat of armed conflict between India and Pakistan remains. Indian and Pakistani military forces periodically exchange gun and artillery fire across the Line of Control (LoC),” the travel advisory said on the sub-section on the PoK.
Noting that terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Pakistan, the State Department said terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting transportation hubs, markets, shopping malls, military installations, airports, universities, tourist locations, schools, hospitals, places of worship, and government facilities.
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Terrorists have targeted US diplomats and diplomatic facilities in the past, and information suggests they continue to do so.
“Terrorist attacks continue to happen across Pakistan, with most occurring in Balochistan and KPK, including the former FATA. Large-scale terrorist attacks have resulted in hundreds of casualties,” it said.
The US government has limited ability to provide emergency services to US citizens in Pakistan due to the security environment. Travel by US government personnel within Pakistan is restricted, and additional restrictions on movements by US government personnel outside of US diplomatic facilities may occur at any time, depending on local circumstances and security conditions, which can change suddenly.
“Do not travel to Balochistan province. Active terrorist groups, an active separatist movement, sectarian conflicts, and deadly terrorist attacks against civilians, government offices, and security forces destabilise the province, including all major cities,” the travel advisory said.
“Do not travel to KPK province, which includes the former FATA. Active terrorist and insurgent groups routinely conduct attacks against civilians, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), government offices, and security forces. These groups historically have not discriminated between government officials and civilians. Assassination and kidnapping attempts are common, including the targeting of polio eradication teams,” it said.
“India and Pakistan maintain a strong military presence on both sides of the border,” it said.
“The only official Pakistan-India border crossing point for persons who are not citizens of India or Pakistan is in the province of Punjab between Wagah, Pakistan, and Atari, India. Travellers are advised to confirm the status of the border crossing prior to commencing travel. An Indian visa is required to enter India, and no visa services are available at the border,” the advisory said.