Washington: The United States government has warned its citizens against all non-essential travel to Pakistan in the wake of the ongoing `security concerns` in Pakistan.
According to a statement by the US State Department, the American Embassy in Islamabad and the Consulate General in Karachi continue to provide consular services for all U.S. citizens in Pakistan.
"Pakistan continues to experience significant terrorist violence, including sectarian attacks. Several foreign and indigenous terrorist groups continue to pose a danger to U.S. citizens throughout Pakistan. Across the country, terrorist attacks frequently occur against locations where U.S. citizens and Westerners congregate, as well as against local civilian and government targets. Terrorists and criminal groups regularly resort to kidnapping for ransom." the statement said.
On April 16, 2015, an American educator was shot by two gunmen on motorbikes. Evidence suggests she was targeted, in part, because she was a U.S. Citizen.
Asserting that the Government of Pakistan maintains heightened security measures, particularly in major cities, following attacks or in response to threats, the State Department added that sectarian violence remains a serious threat countrywide and the Government of Pakistan continues to enforce blasphemy laws.
"Religious minority communities have been victims of targeted killings and accusations of blasphemy. Terrorists frequently target places of worship of various faiths," the statement said.
The local government restricts access for non-Pakistanis to many areas, including the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) along the Afghan border, the Swat Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, the area adjacent to the Line of Control in the disputed territory of Kashmir and much of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province and Balochistan.
"The travel of U.S. government personnel within Pakistan is restricted based on security or other reasons. Movements by U.S. government personnel outside of Islamabad are severely restricted, and consulate staff cannot drive personally-owned vehicles," the statement added.
According to the advisory, 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. If you choose to live or travel in Pakistan despite this warning, we recommend you:- Vary travel routes and timing, even 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.