ISLAMABAD: The US government ordered the evacuation of non-essential staff from its consulate in Lahore on Friday due to the threat of attack, with the State Department also warning US citizens not to travel to Pakistan.
"The Department of State ordered this drawdown due to specific threats concerning the US consulate in Lahore," said a travel warning posted on the Department of State's website on Thursday.
The Lahore warning noted that "several foreign and indigenous terrorist groups pose a potential danger to US citizens throughout Pakistan".
"US citizens in Pakistan are strongly advised to avoid all protests and large gatherings."
US government personnel restricted
The warning added that US government personnel may face restrictions on travel between the Embassy in Islamabad and consulates in Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar due to security or other reasons.
Movements by US government personnel assigned to the Consulates General was also severely restricted, and consulate staff cannot drive personally-owned vehicles.
However, Embassy staff was permitted to drive personally-owned vehicles in the greater Islamabad area.
"US officials in Islamabad are instructed to limit the frequency of travel and minimise the duration of trips to public markets, restaurants, and other locations."
The warning in Lahore comes two days after Washington evacuated some diplomats from Yemen and told its nationals to leave that country immediately.
The United States shut nearly two dozen missions across the Middle East after a worldwide alert on August 2, warning Americans that al Qaeda may be planning attacks in August, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa.
A US embassy spokesperson said it was unclear when the consulate would reopen. Tensions have also risen this week with Pakistan's neighbour India over the disputed territory of Kashmir.
It was unclear if the Lahore announcement was linked with the earlier US closures. The embassy spokesperson said the closure was due to a specific threat to Lahore.
Lahore has suffered from attacks by militant groups. The most notable attack was on a bus carrying members of the Sri Lankan national cricket team in 2009. That was followed by an attack on the office of Inter-Services Intelligence.
Recently in July 2013, a bomb killed five people and wounded dozens on a restaurant-lined street, popular with tourists.
Pakistan faces threat from a number of forein militant groups and their local affiliates, including al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other sectarian groups.
The US State Department initially announced the wider embassy closures would be only for last Sunday, then extended the closures of some by a week and added Burundi, Rwanda and Mauritius to the closure list.
A number of the missions would have been closed anyway for most of the week due to the Eid celebration at the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the State Department said.
Yemen, one of the poorest Arab countries, is the base for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), one of the most active branches of the network founded by Osama bin Laden. Militants have launched attacks from there against the West.
US sources have told Reuters that intercepted communication between bin Laden's successor as al Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, and the Yemen-based wing was one part of the intelligence behind their alert last week.
Correction: An earlier version of the story incorrectly spelled "terror" as "terrot". The error is regretted.
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@Facts not opinion: 1. Excuse me, But was there a popular vote to close down Embassy? Infact how many Americans actually know that their embassies in Pakistan & Yemen were closed. Most people have no time for such trivial things. 2. Over 90% of Indians spend less than 4,000 rupees per month (latest NSSO data on Consumption expenditures). What makes you think Haafiz & Dawood are any priority to their lives? 3. Did Afghanistan pose any realistic threat to US mainland? US may very well tomorrow decide to bomb India back to stone age (threats of which were apparently delivered in 1970s), that does not make its adventures out of the ambit of paranoia.
Whatever remains of your argument.
@truthbetold: Dear truthbetold, In regard to major countries not training terrorists, have you ever heard of a country called America? Training terrorists has been one one of America's full time jobs for the last 20 years or so. How do you think OBL and al-Qeada were given their start? Also, the US, has been, and still is, extremely active in promoting and encouraging terrorism in various parts of the Middle-East and Africa. As for the US removing some of its Lahore diplomatic staff, I do not think the US has been very popular in Lahore since Ray Davis shot two of its citizens in the back
@truthbetold Its funny how you stated that Pakistan is the only country that "encouraged, created, nurtured, trained and deployed terrorists", last time i checked OBL and afghan talibans were US sponsored and they were used by US to fight Soviet forces. What about the atrocities in occupied kashmir, have u read any independent reports on the barbaric acts done by indian army there? Terrorism doesn't mean a bearded guy blowing himself up, terrorism can be done in an army uniform as well, in fact it is being done. I would love to see how Indians will react if they have to face terrorism which is anywhere near the magnitude that Pakistan is facing right now. I am sure many a children will have sleepless nights.
@Pradhan I think Pakistan is moving in the right direction in many fronts,to me terrorism has proved to be the biggest setback in this quest. Corruption and other problems that Pakistan is facing right now are typical developing nation's problems, and India is no exception. Pakistan has come a long long way from where it started. Saying that Pakistan only blames media is a bit harsh Pakistan is a relatively young nation and once fundamentals will become right things will get better.
@Parvez: Thanks for sharing that book. Had no idea that there was already a specific book written by a scholar on 'blowback' of foreign policies of American empire.
@Rashid: I guess my take is somewhat different from that of the Maulvis and assorted Jihadis. What I am saying is that religious fundamentalists and Jihadists were themselves funded, trained & armed by the West to counter Socialist wave from spreading to Central Asia (read Afghanistan) and West Asia (read Oil wells of the Gulf) in late 1970s and 1980s. Pakistan & Saudi Arab were also active partners in this project (though goals of both were different, one wished to have a friendly buffer on its western front while other wished to contain the influence of post-Revolution Iran). Maulvis and Jihadis on the other hand say that they are fighting against Imperialism for the sake of Muslims but in my view, they themselves pose a major threat to Muslims (as big as Imperialism) as they are preventing the spread of modern Science and Technology amongst Muslims and are a big hurdle in rationally training human resources required to build a strong nation. Also, I think it is patently wrong to view the affair as Muslim-Christian affair. Had that been the case, there would have no issues between Russia & US or between US & most of South Americas. It has mainly to deal with control of oil resources and Geopolitical rivalries between major global powers.
@facts not opinions: Without getting into the workings of the Spoils system, Slave trade, delayed and protracted Civil Rights Movement and US' prolonged unflinching support to South African Apartheid regime and preventive wars from Vietnam (ever heard of My Lai or Madman theory) to West Asia (does Highway of death ring any tones) to North Africa; We better choose to disagree.
@np: We have far pressing priorities than getting all paranoid about getting back a Mumbai gangster or getting hold an overweight bearded man lashing against us in front of shops selling Indian CDs at 70% dis in Lahore. As for evidence of US paranoia, I have provided nothing but the evidence. For preventing socialists influence a far off Afghanistan, US went to such lengths that from Kashmir to KP to Afghanistan to WTC, we are left with nothing but bodies amidst the debris.
@BruteForce: You are almost right, but not quite. Washington devised a plan about 13 years ago, which was designed to ensure that most Islamic people would dislike American, and Washington has followed it to the letter.
Reg: Your response @np You have drawn a vivid portrayal of US-Europe nexus and it's anti-Muslim bias. To be honest, I have never believd this though I have heard these same arguments many times before from assorted jihadis, maulvis and you name it. But now that it's coming from you I believe it has to be the truth and the only truth.
@Naveen: Some people never let facts get in the way of their opinions. You say that embassy closing had nothing to do with people's reaction to Ben Ghazi. Here is what this article in Dawn says http://dawn.com/news/1035182/us-to-reopen-mideast-embassies-except-pakistan-and-yemen
"The Obama administration chose to close the embassies after facing criticism at home over the deaths of four diplomats, including ambassador Chris Stevens, in an attack by extremists on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya".
Also your whole diatribe over how all terrorism experienced by USA was a blowback of its own actions maybe disputed but even if taken at face value it does not support your conclusion that Americans are paranoid. Nay Seals action to get OBL is a clear example. They found OBL and got him. India knows exactly where Dawood Ibrahim is but can it dare to do something similar?
When it comes to VIP privilege itddoes not appear as though @np said India was the only country. IT said VIP culture exists in countries in the subcontinent like India and Pakistan. The contrast was obviously with US whom you were calling names. Whatever the flaws in US foreign policy, within US it is rare for rule of law to not be observed. No one would dare to intimidate a traffic police by saying do you know who I am or try to bribe them. Anyone even poorest of the poor can dial 911 and depending on their need the police or mblance or fire engine will be at their doorstep within minutes. India has many wonderful qualities about it but the VIP culture is a problem and the Indira Gandhi type attitude (corruption exists everywhere so it is not a problem) to the VIP culture does not make you patriotic, it just makes you seem clueless.
But seriously I am sure something big is going to happen or else US wouldn't have done this.
@Nauman: It is not Hindustan it is India or Bharat. Hindustan includes Pakistan and Bangladesh. anyways..
Your description about brave nations is correct. Every country goes through a phase from where they fight their way up.
The thing is Pakistan still not the country who is fighting. In fact most Indians I know think they even don't know what their actual problems are. Only thing Pakistan have done so far is blaming media and naming it a propaganda and conspiracy. Whatever challenges pakistan is facing right now they are nothing compared to what you will face when you actually start fighting to move towards a positive direction.
@ModiFied: "Give visa, millions of Indians will visit Lahore even for lunch and dinners. We will risk few bombs even.' +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ I am told there is a Parathe Wali Gali.....least ET can do is cover the Foodie joints in Lahore.....and carry the aroma across sthe border....
@Naveen: I found your reply to @np quite interesting and it brought to mind the basic thrust of C.Johnson's (professor emeritus at UC-SanDiego) prominent book ' Blowback '.
"Indeed. Americans are one paranoid lot anyway."
Paranoid? Really? It looks like you don't keep up with the news and history. If you did, you would realize that Islamic terrorists have declared an open Jihad against any and all Americans and westerners. I wonder if you were working (many native people also work in American Embassies) in the American Embassy in Lahore, you would stay put in the embassy carrying out your duties as usual.
"Brave nations face adversities head on. Pakistan is not the first nation to face problems,"
I know you mean well. But, don't you agree that, in the case of Pakistan, it has been the only major country that has encouraged, created, nurtured, trained and deployed terrorists as foreign policy assets, a practice that has had the unexpected consequence of boomeranging on Pakistan itself? What I mean is, you can't equate Pakistan with "brave" nations. Pakistan is just reaping the reward of the seeds it sowed and cultivated.
@Sonya: And citizens of these kingdoms have no brains of their own. They are like herds of sheep who are either led by the West or their Mullahs.
The entire country may have to be vacated to restore peace
Because its Economy is larger than the next few combined!
They don't have to fire a single bullet to hurt a nation. Look at Iran - Inflation at 40% and rising. North Korea - 80% poor, has a deal with UN to supply food so that its people won't starve.
Pakistan's economy is already in the doldrums, Iran at least had Oil money.
I don't mind Pakistan defying US. In fact I welcome it. India won't be the biggest enemy then.
But, US can hurt where it hurts the most - Financially.
@ModiFied: Indeed. Americans are one paranoid lot anyway. Terrorist or no terrorist, I would have loved to visit Lahore, the sites of Mohen-jo-daro and Taksashila, if I had the visa and perhaps a host on that end. The memories of college days when we travelled right from Arunachal to Bhutan (via West Bengal) and from there to Nepal (via Bihar), without any visa are still vivid in my head.
@Mohammad Ali Siddiqui: US consulate is meant to protect the American interest and not for Pakistani Interest. . Before advising President of USA one need to increase his IQ
@Nauman: Oh behave nomi. that is all a conspiracy theories against us.
@Mohammad Ali Siddiqui: Wow, wow am flabbergasted. What an ingenuous idea to supply visas to terrorists to be shipped off to USA!!! Sharam karo, there is not an iota of trust between Pakiatan and the rest of the world and u are suggesting ro handover american consulates to Pakistanis !!!
@BruteForce: You are one hundred percent right. However, please tell me,
Why should we maintain relations with a country who in 1965 directed our enemy to attack our air bases via Peshawar? At that time both USA and Pakistan were members of SEATO and CENTO. This led President Ayub to tell the Americans to evacuate the secret US base in Badaber, on the outskirts of Peshawar. (India was never a member of SEATO / CENTO).
Why should we maintain relations with a country who leased our airbase in Badaber and furtively flew U-2 spy planes on reconnaisance missions over ex-USSR (now Russia)? The USSR shot down the U-2 spy plane and captured the pilot Captain Francis Gary Powers and imprisoned him for three decades. PM Nikita Kruschev threatened to wipe out Peshawar from the world map by re-positioning their nuclear tipped missiles towards Pakistan.
Why should we maintain relations with a country, who in collaboration with Russia and India, hijacked Pakistan in 1971? The routing of the Seventh Fleet from the Gulf of Tonkin to the Bay of Bengal was a big drama played by President Richard Nixon.
The sooner they evacuate the better for all of us. Salams
Seems like ametican warning was correct, pakistanis are being killed in mass garhering since this closures took place.
When the consulates start issuing alerts, there must be something brewing. I think another conflict may be in the offing. I hope it is a decisive one - one way or another. The region is sick and tired of this simmering low-intensity conflict all the time.
Something is definitely brewing, foreigners leaving in droves, trouble on all fronts. I see signs of imminent war. Pakistanis use this time to make peace with your God. Personally I would head for the nearest border.
Give visa, millions of Indians will visit Lahore even for lunch and dinners. We will risk few bombs even.
Pakistan needs to review its intelligence capabilities.
Instead of closing the diplomatic mission from Lahore or any other place, I would suggest to US President Mr. Barack Hussein Obama that he should appoint all Pakistani Nationals right from the post of Consul General up to the bottom line, instead of Americans, so that the diplomatic mission should keep on running and at the same time unemployed Pakistanis will also get the employment.
You mean 'False Flag Terror Alert'. naughty naughty llluminaughty.
Quite right. The Pakistani trump card is the supply routes. Once the number reduces to around 10k or even 5k, you don't need the supply routes, the Northern Distribution Network(NDN) will do.
Pakistan will suddenly find IMF not so forthcoming, WB is angry at it, Kerry Lugar money will end exactly in 2014, which in the last 3 years gave Pakistan around $3 Billion, apart from CSF(Coalition support funds).
US will suddenly have many sticks, Pakistan none. There will be no carrots from the Americans post 2014.
It is not so long back that Pakistan insisted on drawing US presence into South Asia, and India strenuously opposed it. Today, the same India looks for an extension of US presence, and Pakistan ........... well! the less said the better! So, quite evidently, lofty concepts of independence have been traded for "strategic policies", and the enemy of our enemy still plays the tune we dance to. Let's wave our flags to that - it's that heady month of the year again!
@Vikas I don't think so I denied the problems, i said that many countries have faced problems in the past and many will face them in future, and if there is no cricket in pakistan its everyone's loss no one should be happy coz of this. Believe me things r not as gloomy as they portray in the media, if I am to believe media reports abt India then only thing I percept abt India is millions of poor hungry children dying in Mumbai slums and girls being raped in busses and thrown out, but we should see both sides of the picture
The relentless US support to Arab dictators regimes and their investment into sectarian divide to prolong their rule will keep the world unsafe unless it is stopped.
Terror threat: US orders non-essential staff out of Lahore consulate ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ But the Viceroy during his visit to Pakistan said that the drones will soon be called back as most of the terrorists have been liquidated. Now you can arrive at your own calculus of 'soon'.
@Waqas: I read a day or back that some kids died after playing a football match. Make a note of my comment, cricket is not coming back to Pakistan at least till next two world cup.
Soon US Visa Aspirants in Pakistan will have to travel to India to drop into Consulates/Embassies ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Ultimate insult.
@BruteForce: Zero option is not a prerequisite. The plan that Kerry talked about will leave army trainers, intelligence people to help provide input for drones and some consultants for counterterrorism and governance for t he new formed government. It is clear that post 2014 there will be no combat role for USA in Afghanistan. Thus NATO oute would no longer be necessary and any tough decisions necessary can be taken.
@Nauman: The number of forign tourists visiting India actually grew by 2 percent in the first six months of 2013 ..
@Vikas I am sure u r from India, and yeah we r hoping for cricket revival because we love this game and no one should sit home fearing the worst. Brave nations face adversities head on. Pakistan is not the first nation to face problems, great nations are born after wars and history has proven it again and again.
After killing of mountaineers in broad daylight whatever little tourism was left of in Pakistan is gone for a toss. Who will come to Pakistan with or without warning. Mr. PM please come.up with a stratergy to wipe out terrorists once and for all.
Once 2014 comes and the US has exercised its Zero-option, which it eventually will, the US should close the consulates in Pakistan.
Every single American in Pakistan is in mortal danger. They should not put precious lives at stake in maintaining relations with a country which went ahead and sheltered Osama.
@vikas......are you looking at the stats on the drop in tourism to Hindustan due to the rape epidemic?
Pakistan is turning out to be the most dangerous place for foreigners.
Is it "Terrot threat" or "Terror threat"???
Soon other countries will follow the same. And Pakistanis are hoping for cricket revival...