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The United States on Wednesday issued a new travel advisory for countries including India, which its officials said is “user friendly” as it is based on ready-to-understand level of advice ranging from one to four.
India has been ranked Level 2 (exercise increased caution) while Pakistan has been places in Level 3 (reconsider travel). Level 1 advises travellers to exercise normal precaution, while Level 4, which has countries like Afghanistan, recommends “Do Not Travel“.
Now every country has a travel advisory based on this system, which has replaced all the previous such advisories.
“These improvements will provide US citizens with clear, timely, and reliable safety and security information worldwide,” the State Department said.
Placing India on Level 2, the State Department identified “crime and terrorism” for Americans to exercise increased caution. However, it asks Americans not to travel to Jammu and Kashmir, except for eastern Ladakh and Leh and not to venture within 10 miles of the India-Pakistan border due to the “potential for armed conflict“.
The State Department explained that while it will issue an overall travel advisory level for every country, levels of advice may vary for specific locations or areas within a country.
“Indian authorities report rape is one of the fastest growing crimes in India. Violent crime, such as sexual assault, has occurred at tourist sites and in other locations,” the new India travel advisory said.
Terrorists or armed groups are active in east-central India, primarily in rural areas, it added.
“Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities,” it said.
Ranking Pakistan on Level 3, the State Department asked Americans to reconsider travel to this country due to terrorism.
It advises Americans not to travel to travel to Balochistan province, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province, and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) due to terrorism.
Americans are also advised not to travel to Pak-Occupied Kashmir due to terrorism and the potential for armed conflict.
“Over the past six months, there have been at least 40 significant terrorist attacks across Pakistan, resulting in over 225 deaths and 475 wounded, most of which occurred in Balochistan, KPK, and the FATA. In the past, there have been large-scale terrorist attacks resulting in hundreds of casualties,” it said.
US cautioned its citizens to ‘reconsider travel’ in Pakistan
Amid straining ties with Pakistan, the United States on Wednesday updated its threat assessment for the country and cautioned its citizens headed here to ‘reconsider travel’.
While the new assessment was not just for Pakistan, the US State Department in its advisory put Pakistan in the third category while many of its regions like Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) were put under the most dangerous fourth category. The US warned its citizens that terrorist groups here remain active and could attack with little or no warning.
The US regularly updates its threat advisory which puts countries around the world in one of four categories based on threat perception and how swiftly aid can be provided to American citizens. India is placed in the second category which advises US citizens to “exercise increased caution due to crime and terrorism.”
While ties with India remain robust, US’ relations with Pakistan have nosedived in recent months. The Americans have accused Pakistan of not doing enough to crackdown on home-grown terror outfits, and have even stopped military aid. Pakistan too has hit back and said it has suffered greatly in the war on terror. Pakistan’s Defence Minister on Wednesday said military and intelligence cooperation with the US has been suspended.
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