The United States of America has advised its citizens to ‘reconsider’ their travel plans to Pakistan due to “terrorism” and the associated risks to civil aviation operating within or near the country.
The Department of State issued a level 3 travel advisory for Pakistan on Wednesday, asking citizens to not travel to Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces due to “terrorism” and Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir due to “terrorism and the potential for armed conflict”.
Level 3 means ‘reconsider travel’, which is one level below the highest level 4, which means ‘do not travel’. The advisory was issued before the Pulwama terror attack yesterday, due to the possibility of increased terror activities and armed conflicts in Pakistan and Pakistan controlled territories.
The advisory read, “Terrorist attacks continue to happen across Pakistan, with most occurring in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, including the former Federally, Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)”, furthering that the US Consulate General in Peshawar will be unable to provide any consular services to US citizens.
The advisory further warned of the threat of the ongoing “armed conflict between India and Pakistan” in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. “Indian and Pakistani military forces periodically exchange fire across the Line of Control,” it said.
Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Pakistan, it said, that transportation hubs, markets, shopping malls, military installations, airports, universities, tourist locations, schools, hospitals, places of worship and government facilities may be attacked anytime, with little or no warning.
Soon after this ghastly Pulwama attack was executed by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), the White House, strongly condemning the act, asked Pakistan to immediately end “support” and “safe haven” to all terror groups.
The United States calls on Pakistan to end immediately the support and safe haven provided to all terrorist groups operating on its soil, whose only goal is to sow chaos, violence, and terror in the region,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a late night statement on Thursday.
“This attack only strengthens our resolve to bolster counter-terrorism cooperation and coordination between the United States and India,” she said in a strongly-worded statement issued by the White House.
The US-Pakistan relationship right now is at a low point and it is unlikely to improve soon.
In the years of the Obama administration, the US found that Pakistan was providing a safe haven to the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network, and as a result, withheld aid.
The current situation is, in a way, just a continuation of the Obama administration’s policy with much stronger rhetorics.
In December 2018, the US ambassador to UN, Nikki Haley, reiterated the stand of Trump administration over Pakistan and said that it does not deserve even a dollar from the US unless it stops harbouring and sponsoring terrorism.
President Trump had at the beginning of the year took to Twitter, saying that Pakistan had engaged in lies and deceit over a fifteen year period during which the US has “foolishly” provided Pakistan with $33 billion in aid.
Recently, friction between two nations had led the Pentagon to severe monetary help of $1.66 billion in security assistance to Pakistan. This decision came after the US President Donald Trump had launched a scathing attack on Pakistan for deliberately not acting against the Islamic terrorist forces operating on its soil by citing the presence of 9/11 mastermind al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden who was hiding in Abbottabad, allegedly under the protection of its military.
In July 2018, the US had cautioned the IMF against a possible fresh bailout for Pakistan’s new government to pay off Chinese lenders who have invested in the strategic China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. This was just before the swearing in of Imran Khan as the new Pakistan PM in August 2018.
Similarly, in December last year, the US Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman, had shown concern over USD 8 billion dollar loan that Pakistan has demanded from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Sherman called Pakistan’s demand as a convenient way to repay the Chinese loan they have taken. He had then confirmed that the US aid to Pakistan which has been cut by the Trump administration is unlikely to be restored soon.
The IMF is the world’s preeminent multilateral institution for promoting stability in global financial markets. With a $ 155 billion commitment to the IMF, the United State has an outsized role in the IMF’s decisions as it holds veto authority for major policy decisions.