Overall Crime and Safety Situation
U.S. Consulate Peshawar does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The ACS Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED PESHAWAR AS BEING A HIGH-THREAT LOCATION FOR CRIME DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
Please review OSAC’s Pakistan-specific webpage for proprietary analytic reports, Consular Messages, and contact information.
Northwest Pakistan, consisting of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, the provincial capital Peshawar, and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and its border areas, is a dangerous region for all foreigners, especially American citizens.
2016 marks the second year of Pakistan’s National Action Plan (NAP), which focused national security, law enforcement, and judicial assets against militant and, by extension in many cases, criminal activities in the aftermath of the attack on Peshawar’s Army Public School in 2014. It also coincides with the winding down of Operation Zarb-e-Hazb, which focused military forces on militants in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
While data are difficult to verify independently, statistics published by Peshawar’s Inspector General of Police and Pakistan’s 2016 Annual Security Report appear to demonstrate a significant reduction in violence, not just in/around Peshawar, but also in the region. In addition to these published statistics, the Consulate’s security and law enforcement contacts, the Pakistani media, and trusted private contacts all report that Peshawar is a more permissive environment now than in the past several years. Several contacts highlight that, while acts of violence continue to plague the city, in contrast to previous years in which daily explosions were the norm in Peshawar, significant acts of terrorism no longer occurs daily. Stores stay open longer in the evenings, and market areas show more traffic, indicating residents have a greater sense of security.
These positive trends – a reduction in crime and an overall decrease in the incidents of militant activity within Peshawar proper – do not reduce the perilous nature of the threat environment significantly. The coordinated attack against Camp Badaber Pakistani Air Force Base in September 2015 and the killing of two Pakistani employees of U.S Consulate General Peshawar in Mohmand Agency in March 2016 serve as recent examples. Despite the effects of the NAP and successful police operations, the likelihood of the next spectacular or large-scale militant attack continues to impact daily activities.
The critical terrorist threat that 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 common events in Peshawar and northwest Pakistan.
Regional organized crime networks (narcotics/other contraband smugglers) are pervasive throughout northwest Pakistan and are often linked to terrorist and extremist activity.
Other Areas of Concern
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to defer all non-essential travel to Pakistan. The security situation within Peshawar is tenuous at best. The FATA is considered lawless and should be avoided. Pakistani government authorities restrict the access of non-Pakistani citizens to the FATA, nearby areas, and selected districts in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Province. Travel requires official permission from the government; failure to obtain permission can result in arrest and detention.
Pakistani authorities have only minimal control of many areas of KP Province and 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.
Road Safety and Road Conditions
Road safety is poor due to the decrepit physical conditions of road surfaces, lack of basic maintenance, 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, 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.
Police and military checkpoints present targets for militants to stage bombings or armed assaults.
Public Transportation Conditions
Avoid the use of public transportation.
Throughout 2016, intermittent news reports highlighted periodic concerns of militant attacks against Peshawar’s Bacha Khan International airport. No attack materialized; however, the possibility remains an enduring consideration. No incidents of firing at aircraft were reported in 2016.
Media in 2015 reported that security services arrested a person suspected of shooting at aircraft.
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.
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED PESHAWAR AS BEING A CRITICAL-THREAT LOCATION FOR TERRORIST ACTIVITY DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns
In September 2016, four terrorists from the militant group Jamaat ul Ahrar (JuA) were killed while attacking a Christian colony just outside of Peshawar.
The presence of al-Qa’ida, Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham - Khorasan Province (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 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 weekly basis.
The summer of 2014 saw 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 the National Action Plan and focused efforts to target militants and their sanctuaries across the province. As reported by the Office of the Inspector General of Police, this concerted effort has captured or killed thousands of militants and seized some 20,000 weapons and thousands of kilograms of explosives.
In March 2016, two Pakistani employees of U.S. Consulate Peshawar were killed during official travel in Mohmand Agency, FATA, during a drug eradication mission. The Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) claimed responsibility for the remotely-detonated blast, which also wounded four Pakistani soldiers.
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 militants’ targeting more difficult; or militants may have simply chosen not to target Western interests in 2016. Instead, governance, law/order, and judicial targets were the most frequently targeted in 2016. 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 attacks.
Threat reporting indicates that terrorist groups will continue to carry out attacks against U.S. interests/persons throughout Pakistan if given the opportunity:
- In November 2012, two separate indirect fire (IDF) incidents were directed at the Consulate’s University Town housing compound; a number of Consulate residences sustained minor damage and one Consulate guard was injured.
- Western targets, in particular, U.S. diplomatic premises, personnel, and vehicles, have been attacked repeatedly in Peshawar, with the last significant attack in September 2012. In that event, a U.S. Consulate motorcade was attacked utilizing a sophisticated surveillance network and a suicide car bomb, resulting in numerous casualties and property damage.
- In 2011, there were several incidents that negatively impacted local perceptions of Americans, including the raid in Abbottabad that killed Osama bin Laden.
- In May 2011, a motorcade was attacked with a car bomb in University Town.
- In 2010, militants launched a complex attack against the U.S. Consulate compound that included several vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) and a vehicle ramp that militants intended to use to maneuver over physical security countermeasures.
In 2012, numerous anti-American protests took place, including large-scale protests against the anti-Islamic film, Innocence of Muslims. Between 2012-2015, there were no protests at the Consulate, and no reported demonstrations against American interests. Historical evidence suggests that this positive trend could change following any event that local residents perceive as an affront to Islam, Pakistani culture, or interests.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED PESHAWAR AS BEING A CRITICAL-THREAT LOCATION FOR POLITICAL VIOLENCE DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
Planned and spontaneous protests and demonstrations do occur, and in 2016 police and security forces effectively controlled these gatherings. There were no significant acts of violence related to civil unrest. Most protests and demonstrations are anti-government in nature, with student issues, utility/fuel shortages, and political grievances as the most common reasons for protests.
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 2016, there were several quakes in KP Province ranging in magnitude from 4.6 to 5.0. Proper stocks of supplies and an earthquake plan are a must for this region.
Flooding and landslides in mountainous areas are also environmental hazards. In 2016, 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.
Inadequate emergency services exacerbate the consequences of industrial and transportation accidents.
Intellectual property rights are openly violated in Pakistan. DVDs can easily be obtained at any video store for a fraction of the legal production price.
Illegal drug use among the local population is widespread and underreported due to cultural sensitivities. Peshawar has been at the cross-roads of trade for centuries, including drugs (opium, hashish, marijuana, methamphetamines).
Police statistics for KP Province reflected 174 kidnapping cases in 2016. No national police database exists, and independent verification of these statistics is not possible. Kidnapping plots for ransom targeting foreigners are reported and are usually linked to 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.
A combination of civilian and military forces comprises the security agencies in northwest Pakistan. Security forces are 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 focus on anti-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. U.S. citizens have been arrested, deported, harassed, and detained for overstaying their visas or traveling with an inappropriate visa classification.
How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment
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. Local police and emergency services can be summoned by calling 1122 on any phone.
The U.S. Consulate General in Peshawar does not have an American Citizen Services section. The consular assistance to Americans is extremely limited, and almost all issues will be handled by U.S. Embassy Islamabad.
Islamabad: (+92) (51) 201-4000
Karachi: (+92) (21) 3527-5000
From the U.S.: 1-888-407-4747
Local emergency services can be contacted by calling 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, and first responders have little/no medical certification or training.
Contact information for Available Medical Services:
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.
Rehman Medical Institute, 5-B/2, Phase-V, Hayatabad, Peshawar, Pakistan
(+92) 91 5838 000
Combined Military Hospital (CMH), Mall Road, Peshawar Cantonment
(+92) 91 9214154
Lady Reading Hospital, Soekarno Rd, Peshawar, Pakistan
(+92) 91 9211441
Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance
As a result of continued terrorist attacks against polio vaccination teams, wild polio cases continue to emerge in the northwest region of Pakistan.
The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Pakistan.
OSAC Country Council Information
There is currently no active Country Council in Peshawar. Please contact OSAC’s South and Central Asia team if you are interested in private-sector engagement in Pakistan or have questions about OSAC’s Country Council programs.
U.S. Consulate Location and Contact Information
Consulate Address and Hours of Operation
U.S. Consulate General Peshawar
11 Hospital Road, Peshawar Cantonment
Hours of Operation: Mon-Fri, 0800-1630
Consulate Contact Numbers
Switchboard: (+92) 91-526-8800
Regional Security Office: Extension 8833
Embassy Islamabad: http://islamabad.usembassy.gov/
Consulate Karachi: http://karachi.usconsulate.gov/
Consulate Lahore: http://lahore.usconsulate.gov/
Americans are urged to register with the U.S. Embassy’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) prior to traveling and to read the latest travel safety notices. Consular services are not available at the U.S. Consulate General in Peshawar.
Pakistan Country Information Sheet