This is an annual report produced in
conjunction with the Regional Security Office at the U.S. Consulate General in Karachi,
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 traveldue
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 General in Karachi 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.
There is considerable risk from crime in Karachi.
U.S. citizens and interests, along with other Westerners, are at risk of being
targets of violence. Crime and safety in Karachi remain major concerns. Reporting
indicates that the security situation in Karachi has improved from years past;
however, street crimes remain frequent.
The Consulate considers many areas in Karachi
to be unsafe due to high crime, lack of effective police control, and the
presence of extremist elements. The areas in Karachi least prone to crime
include the neighborhoods of Clifton, D.H.A., and PECHS, but even these areas
experience serious crimes and thefts. Although the Sindh Rangers and the Sindh
police continue large-scale security operations resulting in improvements in
several categories, the violent crime rate remains high. According to Citizens
Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) statistics for 2018, the number of violent
crimes (e.g. murder, kidnapping for ransom) went down as compared to 2017, and
is significantly lower than 2016. Improvements in Sindh province continue. However,
phone theft/snatching and motorcycle theft are common, and have increased
significantly in 2018.
Crimes and scams are common in Karachi, and
include cell-phone theft, credit card fraud, and counterfeit-money schemes. All
travelers should exercise caution with investment and property transactions.
The use of skimming devices on ATMs has risen
in the city, which police attribute to Chinese organized crime groups. Some
police and business contacts have expressed concern about emerging cases of
fraud and counterfeit products from these groups, which they view as a side
effect of the large influx of Chinese nationals working on the China-Pakistan
Economic Corridor (CPEC). For more information, review OSAC’s report, The Overseas Traveler’s
Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud.
Leave an itinerary with a colleague or friend
so they know your whereabouts. Avoid high-risk areas, crowds, and civil
disturbances. U.S. officials must restrict the frequency of their movements and
minimize the duration of trips to public markets, shopping centers,
restaurants, and other locations. Depending on ongoing security assessments and
as part of routine operational security measures, the U.S. Consulate often
places areas such as hotels, markets, and/or restaurants off limits to official
personnel. U.S. government and official travelers usually receive on-compound lodging.
Other Areas of Concern
Travel in Karachi and Sindh province, in
general, is not difficult to facilitate provided documents and permissions are
in place prior to travel. It is difficult to obtain Pakistan government
approval to travel in/around Balochistan.
Crime and safety are significant concerns
throughout the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan. Consider most parts of
Balochistan, including Quetta – which has again experienced high levels of
violence in 2018 – dangerous and volatile.
The Consulate recommends not traveling to most
areas of northern and eastern Karachi due to the frequency of criminal
activity. Criminal/political gangs sympathetic to extremist organizations, and suspicious
of or hostile to Westerners, often control these areas.
For more information, review OSAC’s report, Security in Transit:
Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.
Road Safety and Road Conditions
Vehicles are right-side drive, and traffic
moves on the left side of the road. Driving is chaotic and undisciplined. It is
common for intersections to have non-working traffic lights. Drivers might not
stay in lanes, use turning etiquette, or use mirrors. Driving outside the city
at night is unsafe. Traffic is extremely heavy on weekdays, especially during
normal commuting hours, but is generally lighter on the weekends. Aside from
the main arteries through the city, roads are narrow, poorly illuminated in
many areas, and not well marked/maintained.
Accidents are common; motorists sometimes
become violent when involved in routine collisions. Police generally do not
respond to vehicle accidents, and there are no effective emergency medical
response services. If an individual is involved in a motor accident is in fear
of his/her personal safety, s/he may depart the area, but should proceed
immediately to the nearest police station to report the incident.
Roads in many parts of Sindh and Balochistan provinces
are in disrepair. Highway robbery and banditry are frequent occurrences,
especially in areas of Balochistan the government has difficulty controlling.
U.S. employees of the Consulate may not self-drive,
ride motorcycles, bicycle, or walk along city streets. All U.S. employees of
the Consulate must travel in armored vehicles for both official and unofficial
Public Transportation Conditions
Avoid public transportation. U.S. Government
employees may not use any public ground transportation (e.g. buses, taxis,
There is a risk to U.S. civil aviation
operating in the territory and airspace of Pakistan, particularly at low
altitude, during the arrival/departure phases of flight, and when on the
ground, due to extremist/militant activity.
the 2015 attack on Jiwani Airport (JIW) in Balochistan province, extremists/militants
destroyed an air-traffic control radar.
June 2014, extremists/militants attacked Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport
(KHI), resulting in over 30 deaths and damaging airport facilities.
aviation safety standards among Pakistani carriers remain an issue of concern.
There is serious risk from terrorism in
Karachi. Reconsider travel to Pakistan due to terrorism. Do not travel to
Balochistan province due to terrorism.
Local, Regional, and International Terrorism
The presence of several foreign and indigenous
terrorist groups poses a danger to U.S. travelers throughout Pakistan. Karachi
and other areas of Sindh and Balochistan provinces continue to experience high
levels of violence characterized by bombings, targeted killings, sectarian
strife, extortion, kidnappings for ransom, and frequent demonstrations that can
turn violent without warning. Tehrik-e-Taliban of Pakistan (TTP) and
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) remain the most active terrorist organizations; each maintains
the capability to plan and execute major attacks. Various separatist groups and
ISIS members have claimed responsibility for several deadly attacks.
Incidents of terrorism and
politically-motivated violence in Karachi, the remainder of Sindh province, and
especially Balochistan province occur with regular frequency. A variety of
groups, ranging from extremist religious elements to criminal gangs associated
with local political organizations orchestrate bombings, assassinations, and
other acts of violence in Karachi with grim regularity, to include attacks on
December 2018, six security personnel died and 14 others sustained injuries in
a gun attack on a convoy of the Frontier Corps in Kech, Balochistan. Four
terrorists also died in the exchange of fire.
November 2018, three attackers killed two police officers and two civilians in
an attack on the Chinese Consulate in Karachi.
November 2018, three Frontier Corps (FC) personnel died and four others sustained
injuries in a roadside bomb blast in the Margat coalmine area near Quetta,
October 2018, five members of a security force died and eight others sustained
injuries in a roadside bomb attack in Pirandar area of Awaran, Balochistan.
October 2018, five construction workers died and three others sustained
injuries in an attack near Ganz area of Jewani in Gwadar district, Balochistan.
September 2018, three Levies personnel died and two others sustained injuries
in a remote-controlled motorbike blast targeting a vehicle in Pishin district,
July 2018, Nawabzada Siraj Raisani, the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) candidate
for a Provincial Assembly seat, died along with 131 other people in a suicide
attack in the Mastung, Balochistan. At least 180 additional people sustained
July 2018, 31 people died and 70 sustained injuries in a suicide bombing
outside a polling station in Eastern Bypass of Quetta, Balochistan. Quetta
police DIG Abdul Razzaq Cheema survived the suicide attack.
July 2018, six security personnel died and another two sustained injuries in a
rocket attack on a bomb disposal team in the Mashkay area of Awaran,
July 2018, three security personnel and a civilian died while 13 others sustained
injuries after a military convoy on election duty came under attack in Turbat,
June 2018, three security personnel died and two others sustained injuries in a
suicide bombing at a checkpost at the Quetta-Karachi highway in Mastung,
June 2018, three people died in an attack on their vehicle in the Killi
Bangulzai area on the outskirts of Quetta, Balochistan.
May 2018, security forces foiled an attempted suicide attack on a Frontier
Corps facility, killing five suicide bombers.
May 2018, six laborers were gunned down and another sustained injuries in the
Lejah area of Kharan, Balochistan.
April 2018, four members of a Christian family died and one sustained injuries
in a targeted attack in Quetta, Balochistan.
February 2018, four Frontier Corps (FC) personnel died and six others sustained
injuries in a suicide attack on an FC check post in Nosahar Khooni Talab area
of Quetta, Balochistan.
February 2018, four Frontier Corps (FC) personnel died when unknown assailants
opened fire on them on Sariab Road in Quetta, Balochistan.
January 2018, five security personnel and two civilians died and 25 others sustained
injuries in a suicide attack near the GPO Chowk area in Quetta, Balochistan.
January 2018, five security personnel died and six others sustained injuries in
an attack in the Shapok area of Turbat town in Kech district, Balochistan.
There were multiple anti-U.S. demonstrations in
Karachi in 2018, most attracting crowds numbering in the hundreds, but with some
crowds as large as 5,000 participants.
Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
There is considerable risk from civil unrest in
Karachi. Political/sectarian civil unrest in Karachi can erupt anywhere without
warning, and can evolve quickly into violent mobs. Criminal gangs affiliated
with political parties created much of the uncontrolled violence prevalent in
Karachi before 2015, but this activity has become less significant in recent
years. Transportation strikes and shutdowns occur frequently throughout the
city, often in reaction to sectarian violence or political interests, or in
protest of government policies.
Police have demonstrated the capability to
mobilize quickly and have been effective in protecting diplomatic facilities
and Pakistani government buildings in Karachi.
Incidents of sectarian/ethnic violence in
Karachi, the remainder of Sindh province, and in the Balochistan province
continue. A variety of groups representing extremist elements associated with
Sunni and Shia sects carry out bombings and assassinations. Minority religious
sects and groups are frequent targets.
Sindh province is prone to floods that, in
recent years, have devastated infrastructure, agriculture, and industries, and
caused significant loss of life. Many roads in Karachi, to include major
thoroughfares, can flood with relatively small amounts of rain.
Pakistan is a seismically active area. In 2013,
a 7.7-magnitude earthquake struck rural Balochistan, killing at least 825
people and destroying more than 21,000 homes. Lack of transportation
infrastructure to the area, and local apprehension of working with emergency
authorities contributed to Pakistan’s difficulty in responding quickly to the disaster.
The region has experienced less powerful seismic activity since the 2013
Infrastructure receives little or no maintenance.
If a major earthquake were to occur near Karachi, extensive damage and loss of
life would follow due to poor and inadequate construction standards. Industrial
safety and transportation standards fall well short of Western practices. There
is little oversight or enforcement of government regulations or safety
Most major hotels in Karachi employ local
security firms, which provide adequate security. Firefighting resources are
severely lacking. Take personal responsibility for your fire evacuation plan
from the hotel; stay on a lower floor in a hotel. Avoid hotels that do not
apply stringent security measures. For more information on fire safety in
hotels, review OSAC’s report, Fire Safety Abroad.
Counterfeit goods are widely available. Many
garment factories sell secondhand quality garments to local outlets, which sell
them at a reduced price since they cannot be exported.
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.
Men and women alike should dress
conservatively, with arms and legs covered, and avoid walking alone, especially
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
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 on the basis of 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.
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
Kidnapping remains a serious threat in Karachi
and throughout the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan. Criminal and extremist
groups often target local business people and prominent families to extort
ransoms for profit or to finance operations. Families often negotiate and pay
ransoms without police notification or involvement. U.S. citizens and foreign/local
employees of NGOs have been targets for kidnapping. Authorities frequently do
not catch or bring to justice groups that perpetrate kidnappings. Vetting of
personnel and proper personal security procedures remain the key to avoiding
this kind of crime. Do not become
time and place predictable. Ensure any location you visit has secondary exits accessible
in an emergency. Know the locations of and routes to, the nearest police
stations and hospitals. For more information, review OSAC’s report, Kidnapping: The Basics.
The police services operate below the
professional standards of the U.S. due to a lack of training/resources and low
salaries. Political influence affects the conduct of investigations, arrests,
and prosecutions. The Karachi police have difficulty in responding to emergencies
in many of the more violent areas of the city, and are actively denied access
to some neighborhoods.
The Rangers’ high level of enforcement activity
under the National Action Plan (NAP), instituted in 2015, continued through
2018 and further diminished capabilities of militant groups. The Rangers had
been present in Karachi prior to 2015; however, the increased authority of the
Rangers and police in the NAP reflect the focus on counterterrorism following a
2014 attack on an army school in Peshawar that killed over 130 children.
How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or
If police arrest or detain you, do not make any
admissions or statements, or sign documents without consulting an attorney. Ask
police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Consulate immediately. Pakistani
law enforcement authorities will typically not notify the U.S. Embassy/Consulate
if they arrest or detain a foreign citizen unless you request they do so. Contact
the Consular Section at the U.S. Consulate General in Karachi at +92(21)3527-5000.
The Consulate provides limited assistance with an arrestee’s immediate welfare
and can provide local legal resource information and contacts.
Crime Victim Assistance
The emergency number for the police is 15. Report all serious crimes to
police, or to the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee at +92(21)111-222-345.
The Special Police (SP) Foreigners Security
Cells are responsible specifically for responding to any crime involving
SP Foreigners Security Cell: +92(21)9920-6530
SP Foreigners Security Cell: +92(81)9201-1596
The quality of hospital care and cleanliness is
below U.S. standards. Emergency medical care is only available in larger
There is no standard ambulance/emergency
medical service in Karachi. A private service, Aman Ambulance Service, is the
best available: +92(21)1021 or +92(21)111-112-626. Consider other ambulance
services as transportation without emergency medical personnel.
Contact Information for Available Medical
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
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
Karachi is among the more polluted cities in
the world; air quality remains poor, with many visitors experiencing upper
respiratory illness and irritation.
Take steps to avoid tainted food and water. Water
is not potable in Karachi, 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 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.
Country Council Information
The Karachi Country Council meets four times a year.
Interested private-sector security managers should contact OSAC’s South
& Central Asia team with any questions.
Consulate Location and Contact Information
Consulate Address and Hours of Operation
U.S. Consulate General Karachi: Plots 3-5, New
TPX Area, Mai Kolachi Road, Karachi
Hours of Operation: Monday-Friday, 0800-1630
+92(21)3527-5000, 24 hours/7 days a week.
Nearby Posts: Embassy Islamabad, Consulate General Lahore,
Enroll in the U.S. Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) prior to travel. Doing so provides the U.S.
Embassy/Consulate with emergency contact information, and allows travelers to
receive emergency and security messages sent to U.S. citizens in Pakistan.
Additional Resource: Pakistan Country Information