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ISLAMABAD: The US State Department has upgraded Pakistan to Level-3, upgrading the country from “no travel” to “avoid unnecessary travels” category, in its recent travel advisory, acknowledging that Pakistan’s security environment has improved since 2014.

Responding to the US State Department’s travel advisory for Pakistan, Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri welcomed it as a step in the right direction.

“We have noted the recent revision which has upgraded Pakistan to Level-3. This is a step in the right direction and acknowledges the improvement of security environment in Pakistan and the effective handling of COVID-19 pandemic by the Government of Pakistan,” the spokesperson said, adding that Pakistan will continue to work with the US government on this issue to ensure further rationalization and improvement of travel advisory on Pakistan.

In its travel advisory dated July 19, 2021, the US State Department stated: “Pakistan’s security environment has improved since 2014 when Pakistani security forces undertook concerted counter terrorist and counter militant operations.”

Zulfi Bukhari expects US to change its travel advisory for Pakistan

It noted that there are greater security resources and infrastructure in 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.

The advisory noted that “while threats still exist, terrorist attacks are rare in Islamabad.” The travel advisory further urged the American citizens to reconsider travel to Pakistan due to terrorism and sectarian violence and suggested additional caution due to Covid-19.

It noted that The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 2 Travel Health Notice for Pakistan due to COVID-19, indicating a moderate level of COVID-19 in the country.

The advisory also urged the US citizens not to travel to Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, including the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), due to terrorism and kidnapping. It also advised against traveling to the immediate vicinity of the Line of Control (LoC) due to terrorism and the potential for armed conflict.

“The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Pakistan due to the security environment. Travel by U.S. government personnel within Pakistan is restricted, and additional restrictions on movements by U.S. government personnel outside of U.S. diplomatic facilities may occur at any time, depending on local circumstances and security conditions, which can change suddenly,” the advisory stated.

It further stated that the U.S. Consulate General in Peshawar is unable to provide any consular services to U.S. citizens.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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