WASHINGTON: The United States has asked its citizens to defer all non-essential travel to Pakistan, warning them that violence remains a significant threat in that country.
“Pakistan continues to experience significant terrorist violence, including sectarian attacks. Several foreign and indigenous terrorist groups continue to pose a danger to the US citizens throughout the country,” said the latest travel warning the State Department issued on Thursday afternoon.
This further tightens a previous warning issued on August 28 last year.
The statement also reminded American citizens that the Pakistani government continued to enforce blasphemy laws and religious minorities had been victims of targeted killings and accusations of blasphemy.
The warning also noted that even heavily guarded facilities — including military installations and airports — had faced armed assaults.
Terrorists had also attacked universities, schools, rallies, places of worship, and large marketplaces in several Pakistani cities, the State Department added.
It reminded US citizens that on April 16, 2015, two gunmen shot an American educator in Karachi and, “evidence suggests she was targeted, in part, because she was a US citizen”.
The department also noted that since the beginning of 2016, a suicide bomber killed at least 15 people and injured 25 others outside a health centre in Quetta, gunmen attacked Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, killing 22 people; and a suicide bomber at a park in Lahore killed more than 70 people and injured more than 340.
“The government of Pakistan maintains heightened security measures, particularly in major cities, following attacks or in response to threats,” the statement added.
The State Department said that while the US embassy in Islamabad and its consulate in Karachi continue to provide consular services for all its citizens, the Peshawar consulate no longer offers the services, and the one in Lahore remains temporarily suspended.