Internationally, Pakistan is now being recognized as a hub of terror. The governments of United Kingdom, Canada and Australia have specifically asked their citizens not to travel to Pakistan unless it is essential.
The UK government has advised it citizens in an official notification that terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Pakistan. “There’s a high threat of terrorism, kidnap and sectarian violence throughout the country, including the major cities of Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore and Karachi. Foreigners, in particular westerners, may be directly targeted. You should try to avoid all crowds and public events including political gatherings and religious events throughout Pakistan, and take appropriate security precautions,” says the government communiqué.
‘Avoid Major Public Places’
UK has further warned citizens that densely populated and unsecured areas, such as markets, shopping malls, hotels, restaurants, hiking trails, airports, infrastructure projects, public transport, schools and educational institutions are potential focal points for attacks. “You should be extra vigilant at all times in such areas and minimise your exposure to areas that pose a higher risk,” says the official communiqué. UK has advised its citizens not to travel to many parts of Pakistan, and has set out a detailed list of these areas. Many other areas have been listed where UK citizens must travel only if it is absolutely essential.
Meanwhile, the Canadian and Australian governments have warned their citizens to be alert in Pakistan as the country is marred by “terrorism, civil unrest, sectarian violence, and kidnappings.”
Bombings, Shootings, Kidnappings Common In Pakistan
“Several terrorist groups operate across the country (Pakistan)…incidents attributed to extremism, ethnic divisions, sectarian strife, political disputes, bombings, shootings, kidnappings, suicide bombings…directed at a wide range of targets… have caused many deaths,” says the Canadian document. The same document was recently quoted in a report by the news portal indianarrative.com.
The government of Australia has asked its citizens to reconsider their plans to travel to Pakistan as the security situation there is volatile and a high threat of terrorist attacks, kidnappings and violence exists.
The Canadian government’s lengthy warning-cum-advisory issued to its citizens on November 7 states: “The terrorists could target public places frequented by foreign tourists, minority groups, airports, western-style shopping arcades, hotels, and restaurants. The riskiest days in Pakistan are Eid, Muharram, Independence day, August 14 and the national day, March 23.”
The attack on former Prime Minister Imran Khan and others on November 3 has created a volatile situation in Pakistan. Demonstrations, roadblocks, use of teargas by police, and frequent firing of gunshots have been reported from major cities. The Army deployed troops and tanks to assist the local security forces, it explains.
Women May Be Subjected To Forced Marriage
On Women’s safety, the Canadian document says, “travelling alone you may be subjected to verbal abuse, harassment, gender-based violence or even molestation,” warning White women. Further, the document says, “Forced marriage affecting foreigners occurs. It sometimes occurs without the affected person’s prior knowledge or consent.” Hence keep your passports safely in your possession and immediately report the matter to the Consulate.
The capital city of Islamabad and the port city of Karachi in Sindh are also not free from violence and crime. Visiting Lal Masjid is avoidable, in case you must, maintain a low profile, Canada’s advisory states.
Karachi is a city of gang wars, extortions, explosions, kidnappings, and political demonstrations. Moving near military areas is risky and should be avoided at all costs. The Pakistani Military arrests civilians and can keep them in custody indefinitely, the government communiqué highlights.
‘Do Not Travel In Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh’
States of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Sindh are dangerous to move around. The former has a fervent insurgency going on as natives are demanding a separate country. The Army is carrying out counter-insurgency operations leading to the violation of the human rights of the Baloch people. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project is under Baloch fire leading to the killings of Chinese engineers and technicians, it adds.
Conservative people inhabit Khyber Pakhtunkhwa beside the majority of poor tribals who often come into conflict with Westerners. Again, kidnappings, extortion, honour killings, and drug smuggling is the order of the day here, Canada has observed.
The news portal indianarrative.com highlighted that in this state,
many women are kidnapped and forcibly married off to Muslim men. Incidents of honour killings are common in this state.
The UK government has warned that political rallies and protests regularly take place across Pakistan. “Some may have an anti-western dimension and could turn violent. In general, you should avoid demonstrations, large crowds of people, public and political events. You should follow the advice of local authorities and your tour company before travelling and keep track of news,” said the UK communiqué regarding travel to Pakistan.