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Overseas Security Advisory Council
Bureau of Diplomatic Security
U.S. Department of State

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Pakistan 2019 Crime & Safety Report: Lahore


This is an annual report produced in conjunction with the Regional Security Office at the U.S. Consulate General in Lahore, Pakistan.

 

The current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the date of this report’s publication assesses most of Pakistan at Level 3, indicating travelers should reconsider travel due to terrorism. Some areas have increased risk: Do Not Travel to Balochistan province and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province, including the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), due to terrorism and kidnapping; or to the Azad Kashmir area due to terrorism and the potential for armed conflict.

 

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

 

The U.S. Consulate General in Lahore does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The American Citizens’ Services unit (ACS) cannot recommend a particular individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.

 

Please review OSAC’s Pakistan-specific webpage for proprietary analytic reports, Consular Messages, and contact information, some of which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC password.

 

Crime Threats

 

There is considerable risk from crime in Lahore. Carjacking, assaults, armed robberies, home/shop invasions, and other violent crimes are prevalent in many major urban areas; petty crime, such as theft of personal property, is also widespread.

 

In 2018, the overall reports of criminal activity in Lahore decreased by 1.6%. In 2017, there were 83,801 crimes of all kinds reported to or cited by the police, compared to 82,400 in 2018. According to the official statistics provided by the Capital City Police of Lahore, the following is a breakdown of the major crimes by category:

 

[Note: These figures are only for major crimes, and only capture Lahore City statistics. Added up, the totals for the crimes below do not equal the years’ totals mentioned above, which include traffic violations, white-collar crimes, and crimes that would be misdemeanors in the U.S.]

 

 

2017

2018

% Change

Violent Crimes Against Persons- Lahore City Figures

Murder

443

400

-9.70 %

Rape

101

54

-46.53%

Gang Rape

30

6

-80%

Hurt (Assault)

1,049

1,165

+11.05%

Attempted Murder

573

471

-17.80%

Kidnapping/Abduction

3,231

2,753

-14.79%

Property Crimes- Lahore City Figures

Total Property Crime

29,711

29,301

-1.37%

Burglary

4,014

3,429

-14.57 %

Robbery

2,751

3,099

+12.46%

Dacoity (Banditry)

59

57

-3.38%

Vehicle Theft

4,889

4,252

-13.02%

Motor Bike Snatching

357

289

-19.04 %

Car Snatching

13

12

-7.69%

Motor Bike Theft

4,027

3,618

-10.15%

 

Transportation-Safety Situation

 

For more information, review OSAC’s report, Security in Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.

 

Road Safety and Road Conditions

 

The quality of roads in Punjab are not uniform. The toll road between Lahore and Islamabad is particularly well maintained and patrolled by the Motorway Police. The roads in Lahore and the motorways between major cities in Punjab are generally paved and adequate; however, in outlying rural areas, the roads may be narrow, unpaved, and dangerous to navigate. Traffic is a significant issue in all the major cities of Punjab, including Lahore, Multan, and Faisalabad. Efforts to improve infrastructure are plagued by funding and construction setbacks.

 

A number of factors complicate the driving situation in Lahore. The traffic in Pakistan moves on the left side of the road (opposite to that in the U.S.). Roads are usually very congested; cars, motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians, and animal-drawn carts vie for space, often disregarding traffic laws and moving against traffic. While people generally drive defensively, patience and consideration are not traits commonly experienced while driving in Lahore. As a result, there are frequent vehicle collisions. Complicating the issue is the fact that most drivers are uninsured. Expect other drivers to ignore road signs and traffic lights, and to cross over and/or drift into other lanes without warning or signaling. Proceed through intersections with caution. In short, defensive driving is a must. For more information on self-driving, please review OSAC’s report, Driving Overseas: Best Practices.

 

Traffic signals are frequently inoperative due to widespread power outages, and roads tend to be poorly illuminated at night. Pedestrians, animal-drawn carts, and cattle along the roads add additional challenges to safe driving.

 

Public Transportation Conditions

 

Avoid using non-dispatched taxis and other forms of public transportation, and have members of your host organization or family meet you at the airport. Hotels are often able to arrange for airport transfers. 

 

Public transportation and driving in general in Pakistan can be extremely hazardous. Lack of proper vehicle maintenance, poor driver training, and the general absence of safety awareness by vehicle operators leads to a large number of vehicle accidents. In 2018, approximately 429 people died in road accidents in Lahore.

 

Terrorism Threat

 

There is serious risk from terrorism in Lahore. The presence of several foreign and indigenous terrorist groups poses a danger to U.S. travelers throughout Pakistan. Various separatist groups and ISIS members have claimed responsibility for several deadly attacks.

 

In March, a member of Jamaat Ul Ahrar placed a bomb under a motorbike in Raiwind, approximately 40km from Lahore, and left it unattended near a police check post. The blast killed three police officers and two civilians; four others sustained injuries.

 

In May, an assailant shot and injured Federal Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal in Narowal during a corner public meeting. Police arrested the attacker, later identified as a member of Tehreek-e-Labik Pakistan (TLP); however, TLP leadership disowned him. The attacker claimed the attack was due to the Minister’s support of legislation against the blasphemy law.

 

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence

 

Civil Unrest

 

There is considerable risk from civil unrest in Lahore. Political violence is common in Lahore and rural Punjab. Examples from the last year include:

 

·         In January, police shot and killed two protesters in Kasur when they tried to enter into the Deputy Commissioner’s Office forcefully. Five protesters were also sustained injuries. The protest was in connection with a local rape case.

·         In February, assailants killed two members of the Union Council in Sheikhpura, having targeted them based on political affiliation.

·         In July, general election-related violence left two people dead in Khanewal, and one in Faisalabad. In Lahore, 15 people of different political parties sustained injuries related with general election activities.

·         In September, police injured five protesters who had tried to enter into the Lahore Accountability Court forcefully. Ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was also present in the court during this time.

·         In December, when the former Chief Minister of the Punjab appeared at the Lahore Accountability Court, protesters attempted to sneak in. Seven people sustained injuries, including two police officers.


Religious/Ethnic Violence

 

·         In October, the Pakistan Apex Court of Law acquitted Asia Bibi, who had been on trial for blasphemy. Several religious parties under the TLP flag held sit-in protests at all major entry points of Lahore. The interchanges remained closed for normal traffic and created traffic congestion throughout Lahore. Police and district administration requested the participants to conclude the sit-in, but Khadam Hussain Rizvi, head of TLP, did not comply. For almost three days, protests kept the city closed and resulted in damage to public property. After three days, successful negotiations between TLP and the government concluded the protests/sit-ins.

·         In November, TLP announced a protest against the government. Before the day of the protest, the government started to crack down against TLP leadership and workers. Police arrested hundreds of TLP workers.

 

Post-Specific Concerns

 

Environmental Hazards

 

Lahore’s air pollution continues to be a concern. Dozens of roads/bridges are under reconstruction around the city, adding to the ambient dust and pollution. The government has no proper system in place to get rid of the construction dust. In addition, poorly maintained two-stroke Rickshaw type motor bikes and other transportation contribute to the city’s pollution. Additional air pollution comes from agricultural fires and industrial estates. In October-November, Lahore and parts of Punjab including major motorways closed to vehicle traffic due to dense smog. The severe smog obstructed daily traffic, causing shortages of fuel and some food staples in Lahore; changing the hours for schools and institutions. There recently have been 15 fatalities due to road accidents.

 

Industrial safety standards in Punjab do not meet U.S. standards, and pollution from raw sewage and industrial waste is commonly dumped where convenient.

 

Economic Concerns

 

Counterfeit goods are widely available. Many garment factories sell secondhand quality garments to local outlets, which sell them at a reduced price since they are not fit for export.

 

Privacy Concerns

 

Unauthorized access to personally identifiable information (PII) is quite possible. Few holders of information have adequate safeguards and access controls to prevent dissemination of sensitive personal information. Official intrusions into personal privacy are also common.

 

Personal Identity Concerns

 

Wear conservative attire that blends in and does not easily identify you as being a Westerner. Avoid wearing clothing that is military in nature or displays Western sports teams or immediately associates you with the U.S. Women should keep their arms and legs covered, and wear headscarves when visiting any religious site. When in public, avoid carrying or displaying large sums of money or valuables. Avoid crowded areas, markets, and areas of civil disturbances, particularly protests and demonstrations.

 

The Consulate continues to receive reports of female U.S. citizens subjected to domestic violence, sexual harassment, verbal abuse, and forced marriage. There are reports of U.S. citizen women of Pakistani heritage tricked by their families into traveling to Pakistan and forced into marriage; those who refuse are sometimes threatened with violence and being disowned by their families, who often confiscate their belongings. There have also been numerous cases of U.S. females having their and their children’s passports confiscated by spouses/family members, and their movement severely restricted. Women who attempt to report these kinds of cases to local police might find their complaints not taken seriously. However, U.S. citizen women who find themselves in a life-threatening situation should call the police immediately. Some Pakistani NGOs can assist victimized women within the Pakistani community.

 

Consensual same-sex sexual conduct is a criminal offense; however, the government rarely prosecutes cases. LGBT persons rarely reveal their sexual orientation in Pakistan. No laws protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Discrimination against LGBT persons is widely acknowledged privately, but insufficient data exists for accurate reporting on these forms of discrimination, due in part to severe societal stigma and fear of recrimination for those who have come forward. Find more detailed information about LGBT rights in Pakistan in the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.

 

Individuals with disabilities will find accessibility and accommodation very different from what is generally found in the U.S. Access for individuals with physical disabilities to public facilities is very limited in major cities, and almost non-existent outside major population centers. The law provides for equality of the rights of persons with disabilities, but the legal provisions are not always implemented. Families typically care for most individuals with physical and mental disabilities.

 

Drug-related Crimes

 

Police do not documented drug-related crimes well. While illicit drug use occurs, knowledge of its frequency, type, and proliferation remains based mostly on anecdotal evidence. Balochistan and Sindh are drug trafficking routes, with significant quantities of narcotics typically flowing south from Afghanistan for shipment by sea. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs are severe; convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences in local prisons, heavy fines, and sometimes the death penalty.

 

Kidnapping Threat


Reports of kidnappings in the city decreased from 3,231 in 2017 to 2,753 in 2018. In Pakistan, kidnap reporting encompasses crimes that have a broad base of motives; from kidnapping for ransom and sexual exploitation to property disputes and elopement. Travelers who feel followed or threatened in any way should immediately go to a safe public place, such as a government building or police station. For more information, review OSAC’s report, Kidnapping: The Basics.

 

Police Response

 

The Punjab Police is the largest police force in Pakistan, numbering over 180,000 active members. However, funding, resources, and training for the police (as with the rest of the Pakistani police services) remain scant. Police resources and service remain well below Western standards, though the government is working to improve the situation through computerization and modernization. In 2018, Lahore city is monitored through approximately 10,000 surveillance cameras under the phased Punjab “Safe City” Project. The system features a 24-hour command center where police officials monitor various areas of the city, looking for criminal or terrorist activities. These cameras also monitor traffic, with violators receiving mailed violations based on the license plate number.

 

How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment

 

American Citizen Services (ACS) can assist when a U.S. citizen is arrested, missing, a victim of violent crime, becomes ill/dies, or when there is otherwise a need for immediate help.

 

Crime Victim Assistance

 

Travelers can contact the police by dialing the nationwide police emergency number, 15. Police response times are generally between 15-25 minutes, depending on the location and traffic conditions

 

For an after-hours emergency anywhere in Punjab Province south of the Jehlum River and the districts south of and including Leiah, and Dera Ghazi Khan, the ACS contact number is +92 (51) 201-4000 or 5000.

 

The Consulate General can provide information on local resources and contact family members in the U.S. so that they can make necessary decisions and provide financial and other support.

 

Medical Emergencies

 

Emergency medical care equivalent to Western standards in Pakistan is only available within the major cities. Most Pakistani hospitals possess limited advanced life-support equipment and may not be up to U.S. standards.

 

The Punjab Emergency Service (Rescue 1122) is Punjab’s premier emergency response unit. Should travelers encounter a medical emergency or a fire, they can dial 1122 locally to report it. Ambulance and fire response from Rescue 1122 are reasonable in Lahore; response times range from 5-10 minutes, depending on the location and traffic conditions.

 

Contact Information for Available Medical Services

 

For medical assistance, refer to the Consulate’s Medical Assistance page.

 

Available Air Ambulance Services

 

Emergency medical evacuation (medevac) by air is very expensive. Any personally funded medevac requires funding upfront. Insurers typically coordinate medevac directly with a contracted air ambulance service.

 

Insurance Guidance

 

Confirm overseas hospitalization and medical coverage with your insurer before travel. Medical facilities require pre-payment. Local hospitals generally do not accept insurance as payment; travelers must instead seek reimbursement from their insurers.

 

Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance

 

Take steps to avoid tainted food and water. Water is not potable in Lahore, and sanitation in many restaurants is inadequate. Gastrointestinal illness is common and can be life threatening. For more information, refer to OSAC’s report, I’m Drinking What in My Water?

 

The CDC recommends vaccinations for hepatitis A and B, typhoid, Japanese encephalitis (for prolonged travel), polio, and rabies. Prevent insect bites to avoid malaria and dengue fever. The Consulate Health unit considers the risk of malaria to be moderate and recommends medication to prevent the disease.

 

The Government of Pakistan has implemented the polio vaccination for travelers’ guidelines recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). Authorities may ask travelers to show proof of recent polio vaccinations. Visitors who have stayed in Pakistan for longer than four weeks might have to show a yellow vaccination card certifying that they have received a dose of polio vaccine within the past year.

 

The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Pakistan.

 

Lahore air pollution continues to be a concern. Air pollution generally increases during the winter months, due in part to wood-burning for heating. Additional air pollution comes from agricultural fires and industrial estates. The resulting smoke can cause respiratory irritation and discomfort to individuals suffering from asthma or other respiratory conditions. The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Pakistan.

 

OSAC Country Council Information

 

There is an active Country Council in Lahore. Please contact OSAC’s South & Central Asia team if you are interested in private-sector engagement in Lahore or have questions about OSAC’s Country Council programs.

 

U.S. Consulate Location and Contact Information

 

Consulate Address and Hours of Operation

 

50 Empress Road, Lahore 54000

Hours of Operation: Monday-Friday 0800-1630

 

Consulate Contact Numbers

 

Consulate General Lahore Switchboard: +92-42-3603-4000

Consulate General Lahore Marine Security Guard Post One: +92-42-3603-4104

Website: https://pk.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/lahore/

 

Nearby Posts: Embassy Islamabad, Consulate Karachi, Consulate Peshawar

 

Consulate Guidance

 

Enroll with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) for further information about the current situation in areas where you are planning to travel.

 

Additional Resource: Pakistan Country Information Sheet:

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