WASHINGTON: The United States has asked its citizens not to travel to Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, due to the risk of “terrorism and civil unrest”.

In a new travel advisory issued this week, the US State Department also urged citizens to exercise “increased caution” while travelling to other places in India due to “crime and terrorism”.

The State Department, in a similar advisory about Pakistan, asked its citizens to reconsider their travel especially in restive provinces due to terrorism and sectarian violence. But the advisory for Pakistan does not mention Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

“Do not travel to: The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir (except the eastern Ladakh region and its capital, Leh) due to terrorism and civil unrest. Within 10km of the India-Pakistan border due to the potential for armed conflict,” the advisory on India said.

The advisory includes a country-summary on India, pointing out that “Indian authorities report rape as one of the fastest growing crimes”. Violent crime, such as sexual assault, has occurred at tourist sites and in other locations.

“Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and government facilities.”

The advisory reminds citizens that “the US government has limited ability to provide emergency services to US citizens in rural areas from eastern Maharashtra and northern Telangana through western West Bengal as US government employees must obtain special authorisation to travel to these areas”.

The advisory on India calls the occupied Jammu and Kashmir “Union Territory,” which is how the Indian government describes the illegally annexed areas since Aug 5, 2019.

Earlier this month, US Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome visited Muzaffarabad and referred to the region as ‘Azad Jammu and Kashmir,” eliciting a formal protest from New Delhi.

Published in Dawn, October 11th, 2022

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