Asia-Pacific, Pakistan, Opinion, World

How Dangerous is it to Visit Pakistan?

It was a delightful day. No stress at work, pleasant weather and then my favourite team even won the final game, what else would you need to make it a perfect day in Pakistan, right?

I was treating myself to a Coke in one hand and a slice of pizza in the other, watching my favourite movie when one of my brother-like friends from Canada pinged on Messenger.

He seemed worried!

After the formal hi, hello, my friend, (let’s call him Peter here), he asked me if the situation in Pakistan was as bad as they mentioned in the a travel warning, issued by both the governments of the United States and Canada, urging their citizens to avoid all travel to Pakistan, an upgrade from the previous “non-essential” travel warning.

He was worried about me and about his upcoming trip to Pakistan, which we had planned later this year.

Peter wanted to visit Pakistan to explore the ‘hidden treasures’ of Pakistan and to portray the positive side of this country to people who are bombarded with interminable narratives of fear, day in day out.

But, now, he was worried about the warning, reluctant about his upcoming trip.

It perplexed me to the core. I decided to write about it, so that my friend and people like him, especially from the States, Canada and the western world at large, could see the actual picture before they plan a trip or cancel an already planned trip to Pakistan.

He sent me a link to the Travel Advisory from the US State Department which quoted figures from the terror incidents from last year, and some facts about the Pakistani government not allowing US citizens in the areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and tribal areas, due to security risks.

The facts can’t be denied of course, but, the way they’re presented in the document, sound more like scare tactics than actual reality on the ground.

Let’s take them on one by one

Security Risk: Yes, the government of Pakistan stops US citizens from visiting selected areas of the Northern Province. Yes, it is true, but mainly because the province of KP is connected to Afghanistan. People of KP and Afghanistan have decades-long ties and blood relations.

The main point of anger against the US (the government, not it’s people) was injected by the American invasion of Afghanistan back in 1999, killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people there. Countless of them must have been family members of people from across the border.

And it didn’t end there, the US then, in pursuit of the criminals in Afghanistan, which according to them were hiding in tribal areas of Pakistan, started bombing there too.

Drone strikes in Pakistan started in 2004 and continued until the end of 2014, killing hundreds of innocent civilians and striking fear in the hearts of survivors, for no apparent reason.

Not quoting figures from the US brutality in Afghanistan, but, only in Pakistan, “between January 2012 and February 2013, U.S. special operations airstrikes killed more than 200 people. Of those, only 35 were the intended targets. During one five-month period of the operation, according to the documents, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets.”

These figures were not meant to highlight the already known fact about the warmongering nature of the US, but to put a reason behind the contempt among the people who have lost their loved ones.

The facts quoted about the blast in 2016 are true, but, using these facts as a scare tactic is not very constructive.

Terror attacks in Pakistan:

2013: 78
2014: 37
2015: 22
2016: 23
2017: 9

Realities on the ground are that terrorism in Pakistan has been curbed dramatically since 2013.

Talibanization is fading away, courtesy of several military operations, and terrorists are now looking for soft targets out of desperation.

In 2015-16, the ratio of terrorism has significantly dropped down across the country.

So, why should you visit Pakistan?

Pakistan has a rich history, and it is home to wonderful, ancient architectural sites, rich culture, and tradition, majestic sights, tempting and delicious food, humble, friendly and charismatic people who are open to visitors.

The fun bit is – you’ll get the homey feel here. Well, you might take my words as an exaggeration, dipped into patriotism and nationalism, but what if I present VIEWS from one of YOU?

Cynthia Dawn Ritchie, a Public Relations student at George Washington University, recently visited Pakistan and had some very encouraging comments about the land.

People tend to be afraid of the unknown; this is a natural, human response. Our goal is to inform, to enlighten the western audience of the many things we have in common with communities around the world; we aim to encourage communication and reduce conflict“, an excerpt from her article When Cynthia Ritchie exposed Pakistan exactly as every Pakistani has known it for 70 years.

Does this help change your perception of Pakistan?

So, just like Cynthia, if you ever get a chance to visit Pakistan — grab it with both hands! And, you will love your stay here!

About Syed Ahmed Raza

Ahmed is a 24-years-old young and energetic guy from Karachi, Pakistan. He’s a fledgling journalist but a seasoned blogger. He loves to read thrilling novels, and classical poetry. Arzan also loves to watch and play cricket. Reading, writing and listening to music — these are what shape his personality.

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