Australia issues warning against travel to Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: The Australian Government on Wednesday issued a travel advisory for its citizens who intend to travel to Pakistan, asking them to reconsider their travel plans following a volatile security situation across Pakistan.

“We strongly advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Pakistan at this time due to the very high threat of terrorist attack, kidnapping, sectarian violence and the unpredictable security situation,” said the travel advisory also posted on the Australian Embassy’s website.

The advisory said terrorist attacks can occur anywhere at any time in Pakistan, and pointed out Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Mardan, Nowshera, and Quetta as cities which have recently been targeted.

“Recent attacks have focused on Pakistani government targets, particularly security and military personnel and institutions, as well as places of worship and religious sites,” it said.

It also said that security at the Australian High Commission in Islamabad has been strengthened, and advised Australian staff and citizens to “minimise their use of restaurants and international hotels”, as well as potential targets and places previously attacked.

The advisory comes after a suspected suicide bomber killed five people, including two military officers, traveling near Rawalpindi, Islamabad’s twin city. The attack comes in the wake of military action and airstrikes by Pakistan in North Waziristan tribal region.

The Australian government also urges its citizens to avoid “any large gatherings and demonstrations”, which it said are likely in Karachi and Sindh province following thearrest of MQM leader Altaf Hussain in London on 3 June 2014

Australia becomes the first country which has advised its citizens not to travel to Karachi in particular following the arrest of the MQM chief.

The advisory said political and sectarian violence continues in Karachi, which has seen a high death toll as a result of escalating violence. “Australian citizens are strongly advised to reconsider their need to travel to Karachi.”

The advisory also urges citizens to consider leaving if they are currently in Fata, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan “due to the extremely dangerous security environment”.