Sunday September 19, 2021

US State Department eases restrictions in new travel advisory for Pakistan

The latest advisory acknowledges security situation in Pakistan safer than that in 2014
Web Desk
August 07, 2021
Passengers walk through Terminal 1, after further cases of coronavirus were confirmed in New York, at JFK International Airport in New York, US, on March 13, 2020. — Reuters/File
Passengers walk through Terminal 1, after further cases of coronavirus were confirmed in New York, at JFK International Airport in New York, US, on March 13, 2020. — Reuters/File

Pakistan  has moved up a level, from level four to three,  in the latest travel advisory by the US State Department.

The advisory acknowledges the security situation in Pakistan is safer than that in  2014. It notes that “Pakistan’s security environment has improved since 2014 when Pakistani security forces undertook concerted counter terrorist and counter militant operations".

"There are greater security resources and infrastructure in the major cities, particularly Islamabad, and security forces in these areas may be more readily able to respond to an emergency compared to other areas of the country. While threats still exist, terrorist attacks are rare in Islamabad,” reads the advisory.

However, it still  recommends US citizens "reconsider travel".

Restrictions for 'high-risk areas' still in place

The advisory warns of security threats persisting in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

“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 numerous casualties,” reads the advisory.

It also cautions against travelling to areas near the Line of Control.

Moreover, it says that the US government has limited ability to provide US citizens in Pakistan with emergency services due to the security environment and the fact that travel by US government personnel within Pakistan is restricted.

"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," reads the advisory.

It adds that the US Consulate General in Peshawar doesn’t provide any consular services to US citizens.

The advisory urges the citizens to remain aware of their surroundings and local events within Pakistan in addition to following further instructions given on the US State Department’s official website.

The aforementioned ease in restrictions is followed by Pakistan's National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf's 10 day visit to the US, where the NSA discussed peace and security situation in Pakistan and the region.

Caution against COVID-19

Apart from reminding its citizens about security concerns, the State Department has also conveyed caution regarding the COVID-19 situation in Pakistan, stating that "some areas have increased risk".

According to the travel advisory, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a Level 2 Travel Health Notice for Pakistan that indicates a moderate level of coronavirus outbreak in the country.

“Your risk of contracting COVID-19 and developing severe symptoms may be lower if you are fully vaccinated with an FDA authorized vaccine. Before planning any international travel, please review the CDC's specific recommendations for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers,” the advisory states.