PAKISTAN

Pakistan Flag
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Pakistan is a developing country with a parliamentary democracy. Tourist facilities are available in the principal population centers of the country.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: A passport and visa are required. The visa must be obtained from a Pakistani embassy or consulate before arrival. Information on entry requirements can be obtained from the Embassy of Pakistan, 2315 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C., 20008, telephone (202) 939-6200. Travelers may also contact one of the Consulates General of Pakistan located at 12 East 65th St., New York NY 10021, telephone (212) 879-5800, or 18050 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1100, Los Angeles, CA 90010, (310) 441-5114. If a traveler plans to stay longer than 30 days in Pakistan, he or she must register with the local police station and obtain a residence permit. This permit must be returned to the same office for an exit visa when the traveler is preparing to leave the country. Airlines may require travelers departing the U.S. to present multiple photographs and complete copies of passports and other travel documents.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Rallies, demonstrations and processions occur from time to time throughout Pakistan on very short notice and have occasionally taken on an anti-American or anti-Western character. Karachi and the southern parts of Punjab province have experienced protracted political or sectarian violence that, although not explicitly anti-American, poses a potential danger to American travelers. During the Islamic religious observances of Ramzan and Moharram, sectarian rivalry and violence often increase.

Northern Areas - Visitors wishing to trek in Gilgit, Hunza, Chitral and the upper Swat valley should use only licensed guides and tourist agencies. There have been occasional assaults and in 1998, a U.S. tourist who was not accompanied by a guide was murdered in Gilget.

Northwest Frontier Province - Because of dangerous security conditions, caution is essential when traveling overland through the tribal areas to the Khyber Pass. Substantial areas within the Northwest Frontier are designated tribal areas and are outside the normal jurisdiction of government law enforcement authorities. Travel within these areas is particularly hazardous. Visitors risk being caught in armed clashes between feudal tribal factions or smugglers. Carjackings and the abduction of foreigners are occasionally reported from the tribal areas. If visitors must enter the tribal areas, a permit from the Home and Tribal Affairs Department is required. The permit may stipulate that an armed escort must accompany the visitor. Even in the settled areas of the Northwest Frontier Province, there is occasional ethnic, sectarian, and political violence as well as anti-foreign rhetoric; foreigners should steer clear of such demonstrations or known areas of conflict. However, the monthly steam train excursion for tourists through the Khyber Pass is well protected by local authorities.

Punjab Province - 1998 witnessed a dramatic increase in sectarian violence within the province, resulting in dozens of deaths. While Americans are not targets of this violence, the foreign community is not immune, as evidenced by the 1997 assassination of five Iranians in an attack widely believed to have had sectarian overtones. As a precaution against possible dangers resulting from sectarian violence, U.S. citizens are cautioned to avoid public transportation and crowded areas.

Sindh Province - In the areas of Karachi and Hyderabad there have been recurring outbreaks of ethnic and sectarian violence characterized by random bombings, shootings and mass demonstrations. These have resulted in deaths and the imposition of curfews. There have also been numerous incidents of kidnappings for ransom. In rural Sindh Province, the security situation is hazardous, especially in regard to overland travel. Foreigners have occasionally been kidnapped and, in a 1995 incident, the foreign kidnap victim was killed in a subsequent gunfight between police and bandits. The Government of Pakistan has recommended that travelers limit their movements in Sindh Province to the city of Karachi. If visitors must go into the interior of Sindh Province, the Government of Pakistan requests that travelers inform police authorities well in advance of the trip so that necessary police security arrangements can be made.

Baluchistan Province - The province of Baluchistan, which borders both Iran and Afghanistan, is notorious for cross-border smuggling. Armed battles between clans are frequent. Because provincial police presence is limited, travelers wishing to visit the interior of Baluchistan should consult with the province's Home Secretary. Advance permission from provincial authorities is required for travel into some areas. Local authorities have detained travelers who lack permission. Although Quetta, the provincial capital, is quieter than the interior, it has experienced serious ethnic violence that has led to gun battles in the streets and the imposition of curfews.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Crime is a serious concern for foreigners throughout Pakistan, with violent crime increasing faster than any other category. Carjackings, armed robberies, house invasions and other violence against civilians have increased steadily in the major urban areas. Lahore and Karachi, in particular, experience high levels of crime. They are large cities beset by poverty, high unemployment, and underpaid, under-manned police forces. Travelers in Karachi are encouraged to use hotel shuttles from the airport rather than taxis, which are subject to police harassment, especially after dark. Petty crime, especially theft of personal property, is common throughout Pakistan.

The loss or theft of a U.S. passport abroad should be reported immediately to local police and to the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Useful information on safeguarding valuables, protecting personal security and other matters while traveling abroad is provided in the Department of State pamphlets A Safe Trip Abroad and Tips for Travelers to South Asia. They are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402 or on their Internet website at www.access.gpo.gov/su-docs, or from the Bureau of Consular Affairs website at http://travel.state.gov.

ROAD TRAVEL: Road travel in Pakistan is risky. Roads are crowded, drivers are aggressive and poorly trained, and many vehicles, particularly large trucks and buses, are badly maintained. Roads, including most major highways, also suffer from poor maintenance and often have numerous potholes, sharp drop-offs and barriers that are not sign-posted. Driving without experienced local drivers or guides is not recommended. For specific current information on road conditions along the Karakoram Highway, travelers may contact the Frontier Works Organization in Rawalpindi at telephone 92-51-566639.

The information below concerning traffic safety and road conditions in Pakistan is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance

Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Condition/Maintenance: Good to Poor
Rural Road condition/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Adequate medical care is available in major cities in Pakistan, but is limited in rural areas. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate payment in cash for treatment. The Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide for payment of medical services outside the United States. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can be extremely costly.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: Check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation. Ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death. Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure 'Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad,' available on the Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet home page or by autofax at (202) 647-3000.

OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international traveler's hotline at telephone: 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1- 877-394-8747); fax: 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or by visiting the CDC Internet home page at http://www.cdc.gov.

DRUG PENALTIES: Penalties for possession of, use of, or trafficking in illegal drugs are strictly enforced. Long jail sentences are frequently imposed and large fines are assessed in some cases. Legislation passed in 1994 makes trafficking offenses punishable by death.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority as Category 2 -- not in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Pakistan's air carrier operations. While consultations to correct the deficiencies are ongoing, Pakistan's air carriers are permitted to conduct limited operations to the U.S. subject to heightened FAA surveillance. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa.htm. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) does not permit its personnel to use air carriers from Category 2 countries for official business except for flights originating from or terminating in the U.S. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the Pentagon at (703) 697-7288.

Y2K INFORMATION: U.S. citizens contemplating traveling or residing abroad in late 1999 or early 2000 should be aware of potential difficulties. They may wish to consider taking practical precautions against possible disruptions of services triggered by the Y2K computer phenomenon.

REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: U.S. citizens are encouraged to register and obtain updated information on travel and security in Pakistan at the following addresses:

-- The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad is located at Diplomatic Enclave, Ramna 5, telephone 92-51-826-161.

-- In U.S. Consulate General in Karachi is located at 8 Abdullah Haroon Road, telephone 92-21-568-5170 (after hours: 568-1606)

-- In U.S. Consulate in Lahore is located on Sharah-E-Abdul Hamid Bin Badees, 50 Empress Road, New Simla Hills, telephone 92-42-636-5530.

-- The U.S. Consulate in Peshawar is located at 11 Hospital Road, Peshawar Cantonment, telephone 92-91-279-801.

The normal work week in Pakistan is Monday through Saturday, with a half-day worked on Friday. However, the U.S. Embassy and consulates are open Monday through Friday.

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