Friday, March 15, 2013

Is it safe to travel to Pakistan?

Pakistan is a failed state and cannot guarantee your security.  The failure of the state is obvious in the daily news of target-killings, terrorist attacks, and kidnappings for ransom: most of these cases remain unsolved. 
AVOID travel to Pakistan if you can.

BUT if you have to…
Pakistan is slightly 'safer' for travelers of Pakistani descent and others who don’t stand out as people of European descent.

If you are of Pakistani descent you are ‘safe’ in urban centers—restrict your movement and keep only close relatives and friends informed about your travel plans.  Pakistani-descent people are relatively ‘safe’ traveling on train on the main N-S line (Karachi to Peshawar).
In Sind, traveling by bus or car on the east side of the Indus is slightly ‘safer’ than traveling on the west side of that river.
In Punjab (and specially north of Multan), traveling by bus during daytime should be safe.  It is also ‘safe’ to travel by bus to Peshawar.
It is not safe to travel in Balochistan if you are not a Baloch or Pashtun.  Even if you are Pushtun you should avoid traveling south of Quetta--it is all Allah-Nazar country where ethnic cleansing seems to be the adopted policy of the Baloch nationalists (more murders like that of Mehmood Afridi coming up soon--Punjabis and Muhajirs have been fair game for a much longer time).

Travelers of European descent
If you really, really, really have to travel to Pakistan, the ‘safest’ place to travel to is Islamabad.  Fly in Islamabad, move around in Islamabad, and fly out of Islamabad.

If you are traveling to Karachi, leave the airport and reach back to it only during daytime, with good traffic on Shahra e Faisal.  Ditto for Lahore.  It is also relatively ‘safe’ to cross Wagah border into Pakistan and then take taxi to Lahore.  Traveling on Daewoo buses in northern Punjab, during daytime should also be 'safe.' Do NOT travel in KP or Balochistan—unless you wish to financially support the Taliban or the Baloch nationalists for their respective wars, through ransom money to be paid by your relatives/government.

[This writer feels qualified to give travel advice not only because he keeps his ear to the ground, but also because has been traveling to Pakistan every year. In January 2013, he took Khyber-Mail from Karachi to Mirpur Mathelo; traveled by car from MM to Sadiqabad; took Daewoo bus from Sadiqabad to Multan; after a short stay in Multan, took another bus from Multan to Lahore.  A couple of years back he flew from Karachi to Gwadar, stayed there and watched with interest Chinese engineers escorted to the airport in armored vehicle.  He has also traveled on bus from Old Sabzee Mandi in Karachi to Quetta; has taken train from Quetta to Taftan (crossing into Iran); has taken a 4X4 from Taftan to Quetta.  Has also flown from Karachi to Dalbadin and then taken 4X4 taxi to Taftan.  He has traveled overland from Karachi to Khunjerab (crossing into China); has crossed Wagah into India by train and on foot, multiple times; there have many other trips throughout Pakistan.  He once found himself stranded at the Dadu train station unable to go to Moenjo Daro because of a ‘police muqabla’, with IG Sindh surrounded by unhappy armed people.  In short, he has firsthand knowledge of Pakistan’s gradual descent into chaos.]

Will I be safe in Pakistan?  Is traveling in Pakistan safe?  Is Iran-Pakistan border crossing safe?  Is it safe to go to Pakistan overland from India?  Is overland travel in Pakistan safe?  Is it safe to travel by train in Pakistan?  Train travel in Pakistan.  Bus travel in Pakistan.  Karachi to Lahore train.  Karachi to Peshawar train.  Karachi to Quetta train.  Quetta to Zahedan train.  Pakistan travel information.  Pakistan travel warning.  Tourism in Pakistan.  Sightseeing in Pakistan.  A trip to Pakistan.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Tourists, Stay Out of Pakistan

Adventurist Globetrotters, 

Please fight the temptation to visit Pakistan. There are at least two civil wars going on there.  If you visit, there is a very good chance that you will be either killed or kidnapped for ransom.

Czech women tourists kidnapped in Balochistan: officials

QUETTA: Unidentified gunmen on Wednesday kidnapped two women tourists from the Czech Republic in Pakistan’s insurgency-hit southwestern province of Balochistan, officials said.
Local government officials said the women entered the province from Iran as tourists and were abducted from an area some 550 kilometres (350 miles) west of Quetta, the main town of Balochistan which borders both Iran and Afghanistan.
“Both the women were from Czech Republic and entered in Pakistan as tourists,” Akbar Hussain Durrani, the provincial home secretary told AFP.
“Gunmen stopped their bus in the Nok Kundi area of Chaghi district and abducted both of them.” Durrani said women were being escorted by a tribal policeman when they were abducted. The guard was also taken captive but was later freed.
Nobody from the Czech embassy was available to comment late Wednesday but Qambar Dashti, a senior government official in Quetta confirmed the incident.
Kidnappings plague parts of Balochistan and northwest Pakistan, where criminals looking for ransom snatch foreigners and locals, sometimes passing their hostages on to Taliban and al Qaeda-linked groups.
Balochistan has been hit by an insurgency in recent years with Baloch nationalists demanding political autonomy and a greater share of profits from the province’s wealth of natural oil, gas and mineral resources.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Attacked with US drones, torn apart from internal sectarian strife, Pakistan looks for a savior in a retired sportsman

Attacked with US drones, torn apart from internal sectarian strife, Pakistan looks for a savior in a retired sportsman

Though Imran Khan is still the cult leader Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has grown around, there are now other recognizable faces in that young political party’s leadership. Fauzia Kasuri is one of those four or five prominent persons that came to mind when you think of the PTI top brass. On Sunday, March 10, Kasuri spoke to a 60-plus gathering of PTI supporters passionately—and with troublesome religious overtones—about the need for a change in Pakistan, claiming her boss, Imran Khan, can turn things around in that troubled country.  The fund-raiser, organized by the Bay Area chapter of PTI was held at the Mehran Restaurant in Newark.

While many young starry-eyed Pakistanis are swayed by Imran Khan’s charm, historians are taking notes of PTI’ promises—the two most important being that after coming in power in Pakistan, PTI will:
Make Pakistan disassociate itself from the US War on Terror and have US stop all drone attacks.
Wipe off all institutional corruption within 90 days.

Besides the main guest, Dr. Dianne Budd (a Code Pink volunteer who participated in PTI’s 2012 march in protest of US drone attacks), Shahab Siddiqui (of Mehran Restaurant), Aftab Yaqub, Javed Tufail, and M. Irfan also spoke at the program.

Listen to Fauzia Kasuri’s speech here: