Sunday, April 5, 2009

Violence in Pakistan: Discretionary Travel Should Be Deferred

Despite a new civilian government and continuing and massive developmental and military assistance from Washington, the security threat in Pakistan is now GRAVE (highest in decending threat categories of High, Medium and Low), in light of several major terrorist attacks in the last two weeks.

On Sunday, a suicide bomber killed 22 of the faithful at a Shiite mosque not far from the capital of Islamabad; it could well have been worse, considering that guards kept the bomber contained from entering the mosque where 1,000 people workshipped This attack came only 24 hours after one made on paramilitary troops in an upscale and well-protected section of the capital, and six days after militants stormed a police academy in Lahore. Less we forget, one of the largest attacks in recent memory was the truck bombing at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad in September, which killed 50 people and injured scores of others.

Needless to say, anyone working, living or traveling in Pakistan at this time needs to be VERY focused on the security threat, particularly foreigners (i.e. aid workers, government travelers, business executives and journalists). This would include special attention on vehicular security, varying routes and time patterns, controlling schedules and selecting hotel rooms or residential sites in anticipation of continuing attacks throughtout the country. Discretionary travel to Pakistan should be deferred until it becomes more clear as to where the current trend of violence is going. Those that must travel should realize that they be targeted specifically or simply because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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