WASHINGTON: US citizens should avoid travel to Pakistan, the State Department said on Thursday, in a fresh warning that follows numerous protests, demonstrations and rallies in Pakistan that US officials said are likely to continue.
Officials upgraded their ongoing caution about the travel risks in Pakistan, explicitly advising Americans to put off any non-essential travel to the country. They also “strongly urged” those who are already there to avoid protests and large gatherings.
The State Department said the presence of al Qaeda, Taliban elements, and “indigenous militant sectarian groups poses a potential danger to US citizens throughout Pakistan.”
State Department officials said they may restrict government personnel travel between its embassy and consulates in Pakistan for security or other reasons and that those assigned to the Consulates General are severely restricted.
Additionally, they said US officials in Islamabad should limit how often they travel and how long they stay in public places such as markets and restaurants.
The warning comes in the light of the protests across the country over the controversial anti-Islam film called Innocence of Muslims. Earlier this week, similar warnings against travel by US citizens to Tunisia, Libya, Lebanon, Sudan and Algeria had already been issued by the State Department. (WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM REUTERS)
Published in The Express Tribune, September 21st, 2012.