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WASHINGTON: The US State Department on Wednesday issued four new levels of threat assessments for its citizens — from normal precautions to no travel — but kept Pakistan in the third category of ‘reconsider travel’.

Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) are placed in the “do not travel” category due to terrorism. Azad and Jammu Kashmir (AJK) is also listed in this category “due to terrorism and the potential for armed conflict”.

Under the new system, every country has a travel advisory and is placed in one of these four categories.

Advisory urges US citizens not to travel to India-held Kashmir

India is in level two where US citizens are required to “exercise increased caution due to crime and terrorism”.

But India-held Kashmir — except the eastern Ladakh region and its capital, Leh — is categorised as a “do not travel” area “due to terrorism and civil unrest” as are the areas within 10km of the India-Pakistan border due to the potential for armed conflict.

The advisory on Pakistan said that terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Pakistan and may attack with little or no warning.

“They target tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, military and government installations, airports, universities, ... schools, hospitals, places of worship, and local government facilities,” it added.

The advisory informs American citizens that the US government has limited ability to provide emergency services to them in Pakistan due to the security environment.

Travel by US government personnel within Pakistan is restricted and additional restrictions on movements by the US government personnel outside of American diplomatic facilities may be put in place at any time depending on local circumstances and security conditions, which can change suddenly.

“Terrorists have targeted US diplomats and diplomatic facilities in the past, and evidence suggests they continue to do so,” the advisory explained.

Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2018