This is an annual report produced in
conjunction with the Regional Security Office at the U.S. Consulate General in Peshawar,
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.
Crime and Safety Situation
The U.S. Consulate in Peshawar does not assume
responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or
firms appearing in this report. The Consulate cannot recommend a particular
individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service
The critical terrorist threat touches all
aspects of life in northwest Pakistan and dominates the overall security
environment. Street robbery, burglary, extortion, revenge/honor killings,
political violence, terrorist attacks, kidnapping, sectarian killings, targeted
killing of security personnel, military actions, and civil disturbances are prevalent
in Peshawar and northwest Pakistan.
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.
There is considerable risk from crime in
Peshawar. Northwest Pakistan, consisting of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province, which
includes the provincial capital Peshawar and the Merged Areas (formerly known
as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas – FATA) along the border with
Afghanistan, is a dangerous region for all foreigners, especially U.S.
While data is difficult to verify independently,
statistics published by Peshawar’s Inspector General of Police and Pakistan’s
2018 Annual Security Report appear to demonstrate a reduction in violence in KPK.
In 2017, there were 414 murders in KPK, while in 2018 there were 386. In
addition to these statistics, the Consulate’s security and law enforcement
contacts, Pakistani media, and trusted private contacts anecdotally report a
growing trend that Peshawar is becoming a slightly more permissive environment compared
to the past several years. Several contacts highlight that, while acts of
violence continue to plague the city and surrounding areas, significant acts of
terrorism in Peshawar have decreased overall, and especially when compared to
previous years where daily explosions were the norm in Peshawar and the rest of
KPK, including the Merged Areas.
These positive trends – a reduction in crime, an
increase in police arrests, and an overall decrease in incidents of militant
activity within Peshawar– do not reduce the nature of the threat environment significantly.
The continued use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and vehicle-borne IEDs
(VBIEDs) in the region, and the threats of violent attacks against various establishments
in KPK serve as examples. Other attacks, such as a suicide vest attack on
University Town and the assassination of a senior ranking Pakistani Security
Forces leader in late 2017 also serve as constant reminders that, despite successful
police operations, the likelihood of the next large-scale militant attack remains
a concern that affects daily activities.
Other Areas of Concern
Pakistani government authorities restrict
access to the former Federally
Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and selected districts in the KPK province by
non-Pakistani citizens. Travel requires official permission from the government;
failure to obtain permission can result in arrest and detention.
For more information, review OSAC’s report, Security in Transit:
Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.
Road Safety and Road Conditions
Traffic in Pakistan moves on the left; the
opposite of U.S. traffic. Apart from the main highway system, road safety is generally
poor due to the decrepit physical conditions of road surfaces, lack of basic
maintenance and markings, flood washouts, and unimproved roads. Traffic safety
is poor, and government regulation of vehicle and bus transportation is ineffective.
Weather conditions, particularly fog and smog, frequently cause road closures
due to poor visibility. Local traffic patterns are chaotic, with many drivers
ignoring common rules of the road and operating unsafe, run-down vehicles. There
is little to no reliable access to services for breakdowns or repairs while
traveling outside Peshawar. However, over the past five years, the federal and
provincial governments have constructed or significantly improved over 600 km
of highways and major roads in KPK.
Police and military checkpoints present targets
for militants to stage bombings or armed assaults. Impromptu checkpoints have
become more frequent, often causing significant delays and traffic backups. For
more information on self-driving, review OSAC’s report, Driving Overseas: Best Practices.
Public Transportation Conditions
Avoid all trains, taxis, and other forms of
public transportation or online taxi services. For security reasons, U.S.
government personnel may not use any forms of public transportation.
The U.S. Embassy has restricted U.S. government
personnel from travel on certain Pakistani military aircraft due to issues with
safety and maintenance. Exercise caution when traveling within Pakistan on such
official aircraft; verify the airworthiness of aircraft in planned flights, or avoid
this means of conveyance until verification.
In 2014, in two separate incidents, gunmen
fired on aircraft during approach to Bacha Khan International airport; one
incident resulted in the death of a passenger. Throughout 2017, intermittent
news reports highlighted periodic concerns of militant attacks against
Peshawar’s Bacha Khan International Airport (PEW). No attack materialized;
however, the possibility endures. No incidents of firing at aircraft occurred
in 2017 or 2018.
Local, Regional, and International Terrorism
There is serious risk from terrorism in
Peshawar. Pakistan continued to experience significant terrorist threats in
2018, although the number of attacks and casualties has decreased from previous
years. Major terrorist groups focused on conducting terrorist attacks in
Pakistan include the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Jamaat‑ul‑Ahrar (JuA),
and the sectarian group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami (LJA). The Islamic State’s
Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) claimed several major attacks against Pakistani
targets, some of which may have occurred in collaboration with other terrorist
groups. Separatist militant groups in Balochistan and Sindh conducted terrorist
attacks against governmental, non-governmental, and diplomatic targets. Groups
located in Pakistan, but focused on conducting attacks outside the country,
included the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani Network (HQN), Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT)
and its affiliated front organizations, and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). Terrorists
used a range of tactics – stationary and VBIEDs, suicide bombings, targeted
assassinations, and rocket-propelled grenades – to attack individuals, schools,
markets, government institutions, and places of worship.
Pakistani authorities have only minimal control
of many areas of KPK province and the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), including Khyber and
North and South Waziristan. These areas offer terrorists, extremists, and
militant groups a safe haven to prepare, train, and carry out attacks.
The following examples from 2018 include some of
the more destructive and high-profile attacks, and show the variety of methods,
targets, and perpetrators.
March 14, a suicide bomber killed nine people and injured 35 others in Raiwind,
near Lahore in Punjab province. TTP claimed responsibility for the attack.
July 13, a suicide bomber killed at least 149 people and injured at least 186
others at a pre-election campaign event in Mastung, Balochistan province. ISIS-K
claimed responsibility for the attack.
November 23, a suicide bomber killed at least 33 people and injured at least 56
others in Hangu, Orakzai District, KPK province. ISIS-K claimed responsibility
for the attack.
on November 23, three individuals from the Balochistan Liberation Army armed
with guns and suicide vests attacked the Chinese consulate in Karachi, Sindh province,
killing four consulate guards before being killed by law enforcement.
On January 5, 2019, a
VBIED detonated near the Kali Bara market in the Saddar neighbourhood of
Peshawar, injuring six persons and causing extensive damage to area buildings.
In 2014, Peshawar had seen a decline in
militant activity and a relatively stable period that was shattered on December
16, when seven Taliban gunmen killed 141 children and teachers at the Army
Public School inside a military-controlled area of Peshawar. The government of
Pakistan implemented a National Action Plan to focus its efforts on targeting
militants and their sanctuaries across the province. As reported by the Office
of the Inspector General of Police, this concerted effort has resulted in the capture
or killing of thousands of militants and the seizure some 20,000 weapons and
thousands of kilograms of explosives. In 2013, terrorist incidents in Peshawar
killed or injured 1,169 people, while in 2014 approximately 830 died or
sustained terrorism-related injuries. Following the National Action Plan, the
number of terrorism-related deaths dipped to 190 in 2015, 165 in 2016, 129 in 2017,
and 94 in 2018.
In March 2016, two Pakistani employees of U.S.
Consulate Peshawar died while on official travel in Mohmand Agency, FATA,
during a drug eradication mission. TTP claimed responsibility for the remotely-detonated
blast, which also wounded four Pakistani soldiers.
The presence of al-Qa’ida, ISIS-K, Afghan and
Pakistani Taliban elements, and other indigenous militant sectarian groups, as
well as geographic proximity to the Afghanistan border, all pose a significant danger.
Targeted attacks against government officials, property, military, law
enforcement, judicial, and other soft targets (educational facilities) are
common. U.S. Consulate Peshawar receives reports that indicate IED strikes,
targeted assassinations, and bombings occur throughout the region on a frequent
The threat of violence against U.S. citizens
and Westerners remains critical. A minimal Western presence, infrequent
movements, and limited engagement with Pakistanis by Western personnel in the
region may have made militant targeting more difficult; or militants may have
simply chosen not to target Western interests in 2018. Instead, governance, law/order,
and judicial targets were the most frequently targeted in 2018. Militants,
terrorists, and criminal organizations in Peshawar and throughout the region
that have targeted Westerners for attacks and kidnappings remain active. Although
the National Action Plan disrupted militant operations and diminished the capacity
of these groups to conduct daily attacks, militants and extremists continue to
demonstrate their ability to inflict massive casualties in catastrophic
Current and historical threat reporting
indicates that terrorist groups will continue to carry out attacks against U.S.
interests/persons throughout Pakistan if given the opportunity.
Between 2012 and 2015, there were no protests
at the Consulate, and no reported demonstrations against U.S. interests. In
2016, an increase in protests and anti-U.S. sentiment was noted, although, none
occurred at the U.S. Consulate. In December 2017, approximately 500 protestors
demonstrated peacefully near the Consulate against the announcement that the
U.S. Government would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocate
its Embassy to Jerusalem. In 2018, there were no anti-U.S. demonstrations at
the U.S. Consulate. Historical evidence suggests that this trend could change
following any event that local residents perceive as an affront to Islam,
Pakistani culture, or national interests.
Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
There is considerable risk from civil unrest in
Peshawar. Planned and spontaneous protests and demonstrations do occur; in 2018,
police and security forces effectively controlled these gatherings. There were
no significant acts of violence related to civil unrest. Most protests and
demonstrations are antigovernment in nature, with student issues, utility/fuel
shortages, and political grievances as the most common reasons for protest.
A few religious traditions include marches or
parades. In past years, there has been violence associated with these events.
Earthquakes continue to be a concern in the
region. In April 2017, a 7.1-magnitude earthquake hit parts of KPK province,
which resulted in six deaths and 27 injuries from landslides, and damage to dozens
of houses. On January 31, 2018, a 6.1-magnitude earthquake hit Peshawar. According
to the U.S. Geological Survey, the epicenter of the earthquake was 35
kilometers south of Jarm, Afghanistan. Proper stocks of supplies and an
earthquake plan are necessary in this region. For more information, review
OSAC’s report, Central Asia Earthquake
Flooding and landslides in mountainous areas
are also environmental hazards. In 2017, floods and landslides resulting from
heavy rains closed roads and displaced families from their homes. Pakistani
government and NGO services are limited in their capability to provide relief. Regional
refugee migrations from flooded areas can quickly overwhelm local resources and
result in an increase in communicable diseases. Pakistani authorities designed
Contingency Plan 2018 to respond more effectively to different flood scenarios
in the region.
Inadequate emergency services exacerbate the
consequences of industrial and transportation accidents.
Intellectual property rights are openly
violated in Pakistan. Consumers can easily obtain pirated books, DVDs, brand-name
computer software, and other digital media at any video store for a fraction of
the legal production price.
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
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.
There are reports of U.S.
citizen women of Pakistani heritage tricked by their families into traveling to
Pakistan and forced into marriage. The U.S. Government considers forced
marriage to be a violation of basic human rights and, in the
case of minors, a form of child abuse. Forced marriage is one in which one or
both parties have not consented to the marriage (or are incapable of providing
meaningful consent), and differs from arranged marriage. International laws and
conventions support a minimum age for marriage, and the individual’s right to
choice in marriage. Pakistani civil law – as well as Sharia law – requires the
consent of both parties for a legitimate marriage. Often, victims of forced
marriage are subjected to non-consensual sex, physical and emotional abuse,
isolation, and threats of violence. Persons who refuse a forced marriage are
sometimes threatened with violence and being disowned by their families, who
also often confiscate their belongings (including passports).
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.
Regional organized crime networks (narcotics/other
contraband smugglers) are pervasive throughout northwest Pakistan and often involve
terrorist and extremist activity.
Illegal drug use among the local population is
widespread and underreported due to cultural sensitivities. Peshawar has been
at the crossroads of trade for centuries, including drugs (e.g. opium, hashish,
marijuana, and methamphetamines).
Police statistics for KPK province reflected
174 kidnapping cases in 2016. There were twelve reported kidnapping incidents
reported in 2017 and four in 2018. No national police database exists, and
independent verification of these statistics is not possible. Kidnapping plots
for ransom targeting foreigners usually involve regional and transnational
terrorist activities. Other reports note kidnapping of Pakistani citizens for
monetary and political motives. Family members who refuse to pay ransoms often
encounter violence and other intimidation tactics. For more information, review
OSAC’s report, Kidnapping: The Basics.
The security agencies in northwest Pakistan are
composed of civilian and military forces. Security forces are generally professional;
nonetheless, they lack equipment, communications technology, and training. In
general, police response to criminal incidents is inconsistent. Police and
government forces are common targets of terrorist attacks, and the local threat
environment requires authorities to prioritize counter-terrorist activity,
force protection, and infrastructure security. As a result, police often neglect
routine law enforcement work against criminals.
Ensure that travel documents and visas are
valid. Authorities have arrested, deported, harassed, and detained U.S.
citizens for overstaying their visas or traveling with an inappropriate visa
How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or
In the event of police harassment or detention,
remain calm, cooperate with the police, and insist on contacting the U.S.
Embassy in Islamabad at (+92) 51-201-4000 or (+92) 51-201-5000.
Crime Victim Assistance
If you are the victim of a crime, report the
crime to the nearest police station. Call local police and emergency services by
dialing 1122 on any phone.
The U.S. Consulate General in Peshawar does not
have an American Citizen Services section. U.S. Embassy Islamabad or U.S.
Consulate Karachi handles Consular assistance to U.S. travelers in Peshawar. Call
Islamabad (+92) (51) 201-4000 or Karachi: (+92) (21) 3527-5000. From the U.S.,
Call local emergency services at 1122 from any phone. There is no
centralized, coordinated ambulance response in Peshawar. The majority of local
ambulances are not able to offer adequate care in transit. First responders
have little or no medical certification or training.
Contact Information for Available Medical
Due to security restrictions, the Post Medical
Officer cannot conduct surveys to assess local medical capabilities and cannot
verify the competency of any local medical facilities. For medical assistance,
refer to the Consulate’s Medical Assistance page.
Country-Specific Vaccination and Health
Because of recurrent terrorist attacks against
polio vaccination teams, polio cases continue to emerge in the northwest region
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
The CDC offers additional information on
vaccines and health guidance for Pakistan.
Country Council Information
There is currently no active Country Council in
Peshawar. Please contact OSAC’s South & Central
if you are interested in private-sector engagement in Pakistan or have
questions about OSAC’s Country Council programs.
Consulate Location and Contact Information
Consulate Address and Hours of Operation
U.S. Consulate General Peshawar: 11 Hospital
Road, Peshawar Cantonment, Peshawar
Consulate Contact Numbers
Switchboard: (+92) 91-526-8800
Regional Security Office: Extension 8833
Nearby Posts: Embassy Islamabad, Consulate Karachi,
U.S. citizens should register with the U.S.
Embassy’s Smart Traveler
(STEP) prior to travel. Consular
services are not available at the U.S. Consulate General in Peshawar.
Additional Resource: Pakistan International Travel