Washington: The United States has asked its citizens to defer all its non-essential travel to Pakistan, arguing that the presence of several foreign and indigenous terrorist groups poses a "potential danger" to American citizens in the country.
Replacing its previous travel advisory of September 19, 2012, the US State Department said yesterday that threat reporting indicates terrorist groups continue to seek opportunities to attack locations where US citizens and Westerners are known to congregate or visit.
In its travel advisory, the US State Department alleged that American citizens, seeking services from the US Consulates General in Karachi and Peshawar, are subjected to questioning by local security officials.
"Citing security concerns, host-government intelligence officials frequently stop US citizens outside the Consulates and obtain their personal information before allowing them to proceed. US citizens might later be visited at their homes or offices and questioned about the nature of their business in Pakistan and the purpose of their visit to the Consulate," the travel advisory said.
The kidnapping of Pakistani citizens and other foreign nationals, usually for ransom, continues to increase nationwide. "US citizens, who feel they are in danger or their security is at risk, are strongly urged to leave Pakistan as soon as possible," it said.
According to the advisory, since the announcement that Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan on May 2, 2011, US citizens should be aware of the possible increase in the threat level throughout the country.
"Rallies, demonstrations, and processions occur regularly throughout Pakistan on very short notice. Demonstrations might take on an anti-US or anti-Western character, and US citizens are urged to avoid large gatherings," it said.
"Anti-US protests in September 2012 attracted large crowds outside US diplomatic facilities in all major cities and caused casualties and significant property damage.
"The Mission reminds US citizens that even peaceful demonstrations might become violent and advises them to avoid demonstrations. Given multiple demands for resources, local authorities may have limited capacity to respond to requests for assistance," the travel advisory added.