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Pakistan 2013 Crime and Safety Report: Lahore

South Central Asia > Pakistan > Lahore

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

Crime and safety is an ongoing concern for foreigners throughout Pakistan including Lahore. Carjacking, armed robberies, home invasions, and other violent crimes occur in many major urban areas. Petty crime, such as theft of personal property, is common. In 2012, overall criminal activity in Lahore decreased by 10.27 percent. In 2011, there were 82,678 crimes reported to the police, and in 2012, the number of reported crimes dropped to 74,180. Lahore is a major city under development with a growing population, currently estimated to be approximately 10 million.

Lahore crime rates declined in 2012, and although September 2012 saw a spike in anti-American protests and demonstrations, the rate of these incidents decreased by 39 percent from 2011. Throughout 2012, and particularly in September during the violent protests, the government went above and beyond to protect the life and property of its citizens, as well as Consulate General (ConGen) personnel and property. 

According to the official statistics provided by the Lahore police, reports of violent crime against persons decreased across virtually every recorded category in 2012. Police recorded 983 incidents of attempted murder in 2012, a 47 percent decrease compared to the 1,861 reported in 2011. In 2011, there were 632 murders reported. In 2012, the rate remained virtually unchanged with 633 murders. The rate of reported sexual assault and forced rape decreased by 28 percent in 2012. A total of 557 sexual assaults were reported in 2012, as compared to 779 sexual assaults in 2011. Lastly, a downward trend was observed in the incidents of armed robberies, including home invasion and bank robberies. In 2012, there were 3,973 reported armed robberies, down from 4,083 reported in 2011. The police believe this reduction in violent crimes against persons is directly related to their recently adopted proactive law enforcement efforts.

Non-violent crimes against persons also decreased in 2012 with a total of 6,206 reported incidents, as compared with 6,257 incidents reported in 2011. Reports of burglary saw an 11.6 percent decrease in 2012 with 4,008 reported incidents as compared to 4,533 in 2011. Reports of petty theft increased in 2012 by 16.9 percent. There were 7,523 incidents reported in 2012, and 6,486 reported in 2011.

 

2012

2011

% Change

Attempted Murders

983

1,861

-47

Murders

633

632

No Change

Sexual Assaults and Forced Rapes

557

779

-27

Home Invasion and Bank Robberies

3,973

4,083

-3

Non-violent Crimes

6206

6257

-1

Reports of Burglary

4008

4533

-12

Carjacking

923

815

+13

Vehicle Theft

6,941

7,066

-2

Petty theft

7,523

6,486

+17


Overall Road Safety Situation

The roads in Lahore and the major motorways between major cities in the Punjab are paved and adequate. However, in outlying rural areas, the roads may become narrow and unpaved. There have been minor vehicle accidents involving ConGen personnel. Traffic conditions are poor in all the major cities of Punjab Province, including Lahore, Multan, and Faisalabad. Efforts to improve infrastructure are plagued with funding and construction setbacks.

Defensive driving in Lahore is a must. Roads are usually very congested; cars, motorcyclists, bicyclists, pedestrians, and horse- or donkey-drawn carts share the city streets, often disregarding traffic laws. While people generally drive defensively, patience and consideration are not traits commonly experienced while driving. Traffic congestion and driver impatience contribute to frequent vehicle collisions. Most drivers are uninsured. Traffic signals are frequently inoperative due to widespread power outages, and roads tend to be poorly lit at night. Pedestrians, animal-drawn carts, and cattle that travel along these unlit roads add additional challenges to safe navigation. 

Travelers are encouraged to have members of their host organizations or families meet them at the airport. Hotels are often able to arrange airport transfers.  

According to the official statistics provided by the Lahore police, an upward trend in carjacking was observed in 2012. There were 923 reported incidents of carjacking in 2012, while in 2011, only 815, a 13 percent increase. Reports of vehicle theft decreased slightly in 2012 with 6,941 incidents reported, as compared to 7,066 in 2011.

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence

Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns

In 2012, there was a decrease in the frequency of terrorist attacks in Punjab Province; however, sectarian violence and attacks against government officials and organizations continue to occur. Terrorist groups have focused their efforts on minority religious groups and government facilities, with an emphasis on security and law enforcement agencies and personnel. Government officials who have been outspoken and voiced dissenting opinions have also been the target of these terrorist groups.

On February 19, 2012, two foreign nationals--one German and one Italian--working for an NGO were kidnapped by Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) from the Qasim Bela area of Multan. Their whereabouts remain unknown. 

On April 24, 2012, a five kilogram bomb detonated on a platform at the Lahore Main Railway Station. The blast killed three people and injured more than 30.

On July 5, 2012, the Chief Security Officer to the Chief Minister of Punjab was severely wounded when he investigated a suspicious object that he noticed had fallen to the ground beneath his vehicle. As he picked up the object, it detonated. No organization has yet claimed responsibility for this attack. 

On July 12, 2012, masked TTP gunmen attacked a Lahore police academy in the early morning, killing nine unarmed police cadets.

On August 1, 2012, two bombs exploded, injuring 20 people, at a large fruit and vegetable market in Lahore.

On December 3, 2012, a 72-year old Swedish woman working for a Christian charity group and residing in Lahore for 38 years was shot as she exited her vehicle in front of her residence in Model Town. The motivation for the shooting was unclear. She was transferred to Sweden where she died from her injuries. 

Civil Unrest 

The security situation in Lahore and the greater Punjab Province, while still unpredictable, has seen improvement in 2012. For example, in 2012 the RSO recorded 121 protests and demonstrations at the Lahore Press Club, and in the general area of the ConGen, a decrease from 223 in 2011. Almost half of the protests were anti-U.S., most of which occurred in September 2012. In Lahore, the most common location for protests and demonstrations is the Lahore Press Club, at Shimla Hill Chowk and Davis Road, adjacent to the Consulate General’s sole entry and exit point.

In September 2012, massive anti-U.S. demonstrations resulted in large scale civil unrest and the death of approximately 30 Pakistani civilians following the release of the anti-Islam film, “The Innocence of Muslims.” These violent protests threatened U.S. facilities throughout Pakistan, including ConGen Lahore. The RSO continues to closely track all anti-American protests and demonstrations whose participants can number from the typical demonstrations of 25 or 50 persons to a few hundred after Friday prayers or even several thousand as was seen in Lahore on September 21, 2012. 

Discontent among the local population concerning energy, fuel, and politics, often contributes to demonstrations throughout the city. 
 
Post-specific Concerns

Environmental Hazards 

Pakistan experienced severe flooding in the southern Punjab region in July-August 2010; more than 20 million people were affected by the floods that killed over 1,800 people, injured over 3,000, destroyed 1.89 million homes, and damaged or destroyed 7,820 schools and 1.4 million acres of agricultural crops. The power infrastructure took a massive blow from flooding. Some 10,000 transmission lines and transformers, feeders and power houses in flood-hit areas were destroyed and are contributing factors to the ongoing power shortages and load shedding. Flood recovery and rebuilding efforts are ongoing and are expected to take years.

Visitors to Punjab are recommended to monitor the local weather reports and have a plan to evacuate in case of natural disaster.

Industrial and Transportation Accidents 

Industrial safety does not meet U.S. standards, and pollution from raw sewage and industrial waste in the water and air is common. Air pollution generally increases during the winter months due to the burning of wood and other debris for heat. 

Public transportation and driving can be extremely hazardous. Lack of proper vehicle maintenance, poor driver training, and general lack of road safety awareness by vehicle operators lead to a large number of transportation accidents.

Regional Travel Concerns and Restricted Travel Areas/Zones

The U.S. Department of State has issued a Travel Warning and Emergency Messages for U.S. Citizens, advising them of the inherent dangers associated with travel to Pakistan. The U.S. Consulate General Lahore’s Regional Security Office (RSO) monitors the security environment and works closely with the Punjab and Lahore police to ensure the safety and security of Americans throughout the consular district. 

Drug-related Crimes

In 2012, there were 5,773 narcotics-related arrests in Lahore, down from 9,854 in 2011. Police are working to curb drug-related crimes but are challenged by a lack of investigative resources and funding. 

Narcotics’ trafficking to support terrorist activities has not been widely reported in the Punjab.

Kidnapping Threats

The rate of kidnapping incidents remained similar to that of 2011 throughout Punjab Province, down by just two percent from 2011. Punjab police report that terrorist groups have begun to engage in kidnap for ransom of prominent local businessmen to raise money for arms and resources. The terrorists/kidnappers typically conduct pre-attack surveillance, picking a target for their wealth and standing in the community, and kidnap the target in an armed assault. 

Dr. Warren Weinstein, an American national and USAID contractor working for JE Austin, and Shahbaz Taseer, the son of slain Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, were kidnapped in 2011. Police have yet to recover either of the abducted victims. The son-in-law of General Tariq Majeed, (former Chief of Joint Staff) who was kidnapped from a posh-neighborhood of Lahore in early 2010 was released in 2012. 

There were 45 reported incidents of kidnapping for ransom in 2012, down from 51 reported in 2011. Police recorded 2,757 incidents of kidnapping/abduction in 2012, while there were only 2,513 incidents of kidnapping/abduction reported in 2011, a 9.7 percent increase this year. (“Kidnapping” can refer to true criminal cases where the victim is taken and exchanged for money or favors, or it can refer to family members being held against their will for alternate reasons, such as family honor to prevent a disapproved wedding, etc.).

Police Response

The Punjab police are the largest police force in Pakistan, with over 170,000 officers. Funding and resources, to include training, for police services remain low. The U.S. government, through the RSO and other partners, has worked to increase training opportunities for the police; however, lack of training agreements has hindered these efforts, and overall police services continue to remain well below modern standards. 

Police response times can range anywhere from 15-30 minutes. If there is a language barrier, U.S. citizens can contact American Citizen Services (ACS) at the Consulate General Lahore via the main switchboard at 92-42-3603-4000. 

How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment 

U.S. citizens should also use the ACS number should they be arrested, detained, or have any interaction with the police for which they require assistance.

Where to Turn to for Assistance if you Become a Victim of Crime

If there is a need to contact the police, the local police emergency number throughout Pakistan is 15. American Citizen Services at the U.S. Embassy Islamabad’s may be contacted at anytime. The Embassy’s main line (92-51) 208-0000 may be used if you are arrested or have any interaction with the police that requires assistance.

Medical Emergencies

Adequate emergency medical care is only available in major cities. Most hospitals possess limited advanced life support equipment and are not up to U.S. standards. Rescue 1122 is the Punjab’s premier emergency response unit. If a traveler encounters a medical emergency or fire, they can dial 1122 to report it. Ambulance and fire response from Rescue 1122 are acceptable in Lahore. Response time in Lahore ranges from 5-15 minutes, depending on location.

Travelers should arrange for medical evacuation insurance personally or through their sponsoring agency prior to arriving. 

Contact Information for Recommended Local Hospitals and Clinics

Doctor’s Hospital
152 – A-G-I Canal Bank, Jauhar Town 
Phone: +92-42-530-2701 or +92-42-530-2709
Emergency Room: ext 3010 / 3090

Recommended Air Ambulance Services

AAA Air Ambulance Anywhere - United States
Phone: 727-934-3999 
Fax:   727-937-0276
Toll free:  1-800-327-196

AEA International Alarm Centers - Singapore 
Phone: 65-6338-7800
Fax:   65-6338-7611
Internet:  www.internationalsos.com

CDC Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance

The air pollution may cause respiratory irritation and discomfort to individuals suffering from asthma or other respiratory health issues.
For additional health guidance, please visit the CDC at: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/pakistan.htm.

Tips on How to Avoid Becoming a Victim

Best Security Practices 

Situational awareness and common sense are imperative for personal safety. The RSO reminds visitors always to maintain a low profile; do not draw attention to yourself. 

Travelers are strongly encouraged to wear conservative attire that lends itself to blending in and does not easily identify you as being a Westerner. Clothing that is military in nature, displays Western sports teams or logos, or immediately associates you with the U.S. is discouraged. Women are advised to keep arms and legs covered. Headscarves should be worn when visiting any religious site.

Avoid carrying or displaying large sums of money or valuables. Avoid crowded areas, markets, and civil disturbances, including protests and demonstrations. Keep your meeting times and places unpredictable and always vary your routes if driving. If you feel that you are being followed or threatened in any way, immediately go to a safe public place, such as a government building, police station, or hotel.

U.S. citizens are strongly advised to avoid using non-dispatched taxis and other forms of public transportation. When traveling in a vehicle, keep your doors locked and windows up. Whether you are driving or riding as a passenger, use extreme caution, expect the unexpected, and drive defensively. Expect other drivers to ignore road signs, traffic lights, and drift into your lane without warning. Proceed through intersections with caution.

U.S. Embassy/Consulate Location and Contact Information 

Embassy/Consulate Address and Hours of Operation 

U.S. Consulate General Lahore
50 Empress Road
Lahore, Pakistan 54000 

Operating hours: Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Embassy/Consulate Contact Numbers

Lahore Switchboard:  011-92-42-3603-4000
Lahore Post One:  011-92-42-3603-4104/4239
Lahore Regional Security Office:  011-92-42-3603-4000

Embassy Main Switchboard:  011-92-51-208-0000
Islamabad Marine Security Guard Post One:  011-92-92-51-208-2338
Islamabad Regional Security Office:  011-92-51-208-2203

For additional security information, please refer to the Consular Information Sheets and current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements for Pakistan and nearby countries, including Afghanistan and India, especially if a traveler’s itinerary will take them through these countries. The U.S. Embassy in each of these countries can provide up to date information about local crime and safety issues. Information about how to contact each U.S. Embassy or Consulate directly is available at: http://www.travel.state.gov. 

The Overseas Citizen Services call center at 1-888-407-4747 can answer general inquiries on safety and security overseas. The number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers unable to use toll-free numbers may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.

Americans living in or traveling to Pakistan are strongly encouraged to participate in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which allows you to enter information about your trip abroad so that the Department of State can better assist you in an emergency. Visit: https://step.state.gov for more information.

OSAC Country Council Information

RSO Lahore is establishing an OSAC Country Council. The RSO Lahore actively reaches out to the U.S. business community and briefs private sector security personnel when requested. RSO Lahore also assists U.S. companies with police liaison as it relates to threats against their facilities and/or personnel.