Pakistan Travel Advice
Security travel advice for Pakistan
How safe is Pakistan?
Threat level: Medium-High
Those looking to travel to Pakistan are advised to be cautious, remain vigilant and report anything of a suspicious nature to the local authorities. There are numerous travel advisories in place, all non-essential travel is advised against.
Throughout Pakistan there is a high threat of terrorist activities, as well as kidnapping and religiously motivated violence. Western nationals in particular should remain on high alert and take appropriate security precautions as they are often the target for attack.
Providing travellers behave and stay up to date with local and national news and weather, trips to Pakistan should be trouble-free and enjoyable.
On Friday the 23rd of November 2018, there were two major incidents in Pakistan. In the first incident, police reported at 10:35am local time that gunmen had stormed the Chinese Consulate in the Southern city of Karachi. The incident was over, after an hour-long gun battle. Two Police officers were killed in the incident and three attackers were also killed at the scene. Responsibility for this attack has been claimed by the Baluch Liberation Army, a separatist group based in the southwestern province of Baluchistan, who released photos of the three attackers. In a second incident, a bomb exploded outside a religious school in the northern city of Hangu. 25 are reported to have been killed with more than 30 people injured.
On the 25th of July 2018, a bomb blast near a polling station which targeted a police convoy, occurred just a few hours after the opening of polls for Pakistan's parliamentary elections and killed 31 people. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed responsibility for the attack.
On the 13th of July 2018, a campaign rally in Mastung, in the south-western province of Balochistan, was targeted by a suicide attack, killing 149 people and injuring 180 others. The Islamic State (IS) claimed to be responsible for the attack. This happened after a similar attack that occurred in Peshawar several days before, in which 13 people lost their lives.
In what is being reported as a suicide bombing, five police officers and four civilians were killed in Lahore on Wednesday 14th of March 2018. The Pakistani Taliban, known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack on a Police checkpoint. 27 people were also injured in the attack.
A suicide bomb and gun attack was carried out on the 17th of December on a Methodist Church in Quetta in Pakistan, killing 9 people and injuring 20 others. Two suicide bombers were stopped at the entrance of the Church. One of the attackers detonated a suicide vest and the second one was stopped and shot by a security guard. The Islamic State group claimed to be responsible for the attack.
Four military personnel and two civilians were killed on the 5th of April 2017 in a suicide bomb attack in Pakistani city of Lahore. The Pakistan Taliban were quick to claim responsability for this attack in a telephone call to CNN. That attack came at a time when Pakistan is carrying out a national census, the first such census in 20 years.
On the 13th of February 2017, an explosion near the Punjab provincial assembly in the Pakistani city of Lahore, killed at least 13 people. It is most likely the Pakistani Taliban are behind this attack.
On the 31st Of January 2017, a roadside bomb seriously injured 8 people in the Naguman area on Charsadda road. It is uncertain who is behind this attack, however authorities claim 2 people have been arrested in relation to the attack.
In November 2016, over 50 people were killed in a bombing attack in Pakistan’s Balochistan region. The so called Islamic State have claimed responsibility for this attack.
Also in November 2016, seven Pakistani soldiers were killed on the India/Pakistani border. Pakistani troops were apparently responding to small arms fire from Indian soldiers. The Foreign Ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria condemned the alleged attack.
On the 2nd of September 2016, approximately 12 people were killed and over 50 injured with numbers still rising, after a suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest outside a district court in Mardan, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Incidents such as this are becoming more frequent in Pakistan.
A large bomb exploded at a government-run medical centre for polio in the city of Quetta in January 2016, 15 people were killed, the majority of them being police officers and members of the Pakistani armed forces. Pakistan Taliban and Jaishul Islam claimed responsibility for the attack.
There have been a reported number of attacks in Pakistan in recent years. The Pakistani government maintain security restrictions with measure in place, following ongoing attacks against civilians and military establishments.
The same year as the Quetta attacks saw widespread devastation when attacks in bombings killed over 75 people and left more than 340 injured. This to be a heinous attack against families and children. Tehrik-e Taleban claims much responsibility for the terrorism within the region.
Assaults and targeted attacks are prevalent in Pakistan, attacks including those to guarded facilities, such as airports, police stations and military establishments are common. In addition to this, there have been attacks to civilian establishments, including universities, schools, places of worship, and large marketplaces in several Pakistani cities. There is much sectarian, religious and ethnic tensions in the region.
Pakistan suffers from political unrest, of which demonstrations and gatherings can turn violent. You should remain vigilant and stay away from such congregations as violence can erupt at short notice.
Power cuts can take place in the country for up to 16 hours a day, which can cause serious risks logistically and to the safety of travellers. You should ensure you are adequately prepared for frequent power cuts.
Pakistan's International Relations
Pakistan is a major non-NATO ally in the war against terrorism, as well a member to many international and regional organisations, such as the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. However, Pakistan has received criticism over its handling of international issues, and has had ongoing disputes with its geopolitical neighbours.
Since gaining its independence in 1947, Pakistan has maintained friendly relations with the United Kingdom, alongside many other countries, including the United States of America. But relations between India and Pakistan have been strained after their partition and the dispute over Kasmir that caused two wars; a conflict that is still ongoing between the two nations.
Human rights within the country are not favourable in the region despite recent progress, minorities especially women can experience violence and discrimination.
Corruption is known within the country and alongside this, Pakistan is a main route for people smuggling and counterfeit goods.
Travelling around Pakistan
Modesty is advised throughout the country in holy places and in rural areas, especially for females. It is a Muslim country, therefore please respect local laws and customs when visiting. It is advised you cover your shoulders and legs when near these areas.
There are restrictions in place to non-Pakistani civilians and you will not be able to enter these areas. These are:
- The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), along the Afghan border
- The Swat Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province
- The area adjacent to the Line of Control in the disputed territory of Kashmir
- Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province and Balochistan
Earthquakes in Pakistan
Pakistan is located in a seismically active zone, as such the country is prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes. A major earthquake hit the country in 2015, causing at least 220 fatalities. You should familiarise yourself with the precautionary measures you should take in case of an emergency. The local news and weather will also regularly provide updates.
Extreme weather in Pakistan
Weather conditions in Pakistan are subject to tropical conditions, especially flooding, particularly in Sindh and Punjab. During monsoon season, which in Pakistan is from late June to early October, there are dangerous landslides which have been known to take lives.
Emergency services in Pakistan:
Police emergency: 15
Fire emergency: 16
Medical emergency: 115
Traffic police: 1915
Currency: Pakistani rupee
Time now in Islamabad:
Consular information for Pakistan
U.S. Embassy Islamabad
Telephone: +92 51 208 0000
British High Commission Islamabad
Ramna 5, P O Box 1122
Telephone: +92 51 201 2000
Visa requirements for Pakistan
A visa is required when travelling to Pakistan and must be obtained before arrival to the country. Failure to do so can be treated as a criminal offence and violations of your visa could result in legal action and/or deportation. Ensure that you only stay in Pakistan for the length of your visa.
Those with Pakistani origin or descent are subject to administrative processing and should expect additional delays when applying for Pakistani visas. It should be noted that you could be considered a Pakistani national by the local authorities, even if you don’t hold a Pakistani passport. This is if you or your father were born in Pakistan.
Health Care and Immunisations
It is advised that visitors to Pakistan are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. You should ensure that you have been further vaccinated against diseases, such as Tetanus and Polio, which are usually administered when you are a young baby.
Polio is a very present issue and it is one of the most affected countries in the world. It is paramount that you are vaccinated against the disease, particularly if you are visiting areas of poor sanitation, such as refugee camps or staying in the country for a prolonged period of time. If your stay to the country is longer than 4 weeks, you may have to present evidence of a Polio vaccination received at least 4 weeks prior to departure. You may also want to consider Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccinations. Your doctor will be able to give you more information.
Although there is no direct risk of Yellow Fever in Pakistan, if you are coming from a country where there is a risk of the disease, or transiting for longer than 12 hours in an at risk country, you will be required to provide a vaccination certificate. Check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure.
It is highly recommended full travel and medical insurance is checked for coverage prior to travel, as the medical facilities can vary across the country. If a serious illness or injury occurs, medical evacuation to another country may be required. Ensure you have the funds to cover the cost of this.
Prevention of many diseases in the country can be achieved through excellent personal hygiene, including washing your hands before and after you eat. It is further recommended that the local water supply avoided and bottled water inspected prior to consumption.