US updates its travel advisory; downgrades Pakistan to level 3; India continues to be in level 4

By Special Correspondent

Islamabad: The United States has updated its travel advisory to Pakistan, moving it down to Level 3 ‘reconsider travel’ category from the previous Level 4 ‘do not fly’ category.

India, which was put in category 4 on 6 August due to increased cases of the novel Coronavirus, continues to be in the State Department’s “do not travel” advisory.

“Reconsider travel to Pakistan due to COVID-19 and terrorism,” the State Department said in its latest travel advisory on Tuesday, replacing the August 10 travel advisory that had placed Pakistan in the highest Level 4 category.

It urged US citizens not to travel to the provinces of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) due to extremism and abduction, and to the immediate vicinity of the Terrorist Control Line and the potential for armed conflict.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a Level 3 Travel Health Alert for Pakistan on the basis of COVID-19, it said.

The government of Pakistan has lifted stay-at – home orders and authorized the resumption of intercity domestic travel and mass transit services in most cities, it said.

Pakistan’s security situation has strengthened since 2014, according to the State Department, when Pakistan’s security forces engaged in joint counter-terrorist and counter-military operations.

Greater security resources and infrastructure are available in major cities , especially Islamabad, and security forces in these areas may be more able to respond to an emergency than in other parts of the country.

Though there are still threats, terrorist attacks in Islamabad are rare, he said.

Noting that terrorist groups are continuing to plan attacks in Pakistan, the State Department said that recent experience of terrorism and current ideological demands for violence by militant elements have contributed to indiscriminate attacks on both civilian and recent military and police targets.

Terrorists can strike with little or no notice, targeting transport hubs, markets, shopping malls, military installations, airports, universities, tourist sites, schools , hospitals, places of worship and government facilities. Terrorists have in the past attacked US diplomats and diplomatic facilities, he said.

Terrorist attacks continue to take place across Pakistan, most of them happening in Balochistan and the KPK. Large-scale terrorist attacks have resulted in a number of fatalities, the advisory said.

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