State Department update notes improving security situation in Pakistan, but warns against travel to Balochistan or Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces
The Foreign Office on Friday welcomed as a “step in the right direction,” the U.S. State Department’s acknowledgment of Pakistan’s improving security situation in its latest travel advisory for the country.
The updated travel advisory, which still urges travelers to “reconsider travel” to Pakistan—and avoid any travel to Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces and the vicinity of the Line of Control dividing Kashmir between Pakistan and India—notes that “Pakistan’s security environment has improved since 2014 when Pakistani security forces undertook concerted counter terrorist and counter militant operations.”
It states that “There are greater security resources and infrastructure in the major cities, particularly Islamabad, and security forces in these areas may be more readily able to respond to an emergency compared to other areas of the country,” but cautions that “the U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Pakistan due to the security environment.”
In a statement, Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said it was gratifying to see Washington recognizing the resolute efforts made by Pakistan to enhance security throughout the country. She said significant improvement in the security environment had prompted the United Nations to re-designate Islamabad as a family station for its personnel.
Farooqui also noted that the U.K. had also revised its travel advisory for Pakistan in light of the measures taken by Islamabad to improve the country’s security situation. She said Pakistan now boasted a liberal visa regime, and conducive environment for tourism. “We are confident that larger number of tourists from all over the world would be traveling to Pakistan,” she said, adding the improved security situation also offers opportunities for enhanced economic activity and foreign direct investment in the country.
Pakistan has in recent months been declared one of the top travel destinations for 2020 by both travel magazine Conde Nast Traveller and Forbes Magazine. However, despite the revised travel advisory, Washington’s directions to avoid Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province—key to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s plans to increase tourism into Pakistan—makes clear that Pakistan has much to do before it can be embraced by the average tourist.