Washington: As a wave of anti-US protest raged in Pakistan, US on Thursday asked its citizens to defer all non-essential travel to that country.
Replacing the August 27 travel warning that had reminded US citizens of ongoing security concerns in Pakistan, the warning issued by the State Department says that in view of the large scale anti-US protests it is not safe to travel to the country.
"The Department of State warns US citizens to defer all non-essential travel to Pakistan," it said adding protests have taken place across Pakistan against the United States, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and NATO.
There have also been widespread demonstrations and large political rallies condemning drone strikes, Pakistan`s ongoing energy crisis, and Pakistan`s July 3, 2012, decision to reopen NATO transit routes to Afghanistan."
"These protests and demonstrations are likely to continue. US citizens in Pakistan are strongly urged to avoid protests and large gatherings," the travel warning said.
Noting that the presence of al Qaeda, Taliban elements, and indigenous militant sectarian groups poses a potential danger to US citizens throughout Pakistan, the travel alert said terrorists have attacked several civilian, government, and foreign targets.
Even as the Pakistan Government maintains heightened security measures, particularly in the major cities, the State Department said threat reporting indicates terrorist groups continue to seek opportunities to attack locations where US citizens and Westerners are known to congregate or visit, such as shopping areas, hotels, clubs and restaurants, places of worship, schools, and outdoor recreation events.
Terrorists have disguised themselves as Pakistani security personnel to gain access to targeted areas.
Some media reports have falsely identified US diplomats and to a lesser extent US and other Western journalists and non-governmental organisation workers as being intelligence operatives or private security personnel, it said.