2009-01-16 06:39:00
Consulate Lahore
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R 160639Z JAN 09


E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: 08 STATE 132056



E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: 08 STATE 132056

1. Overall Crime and Safety Situation:

(U) Due to on-going concerns about the possibility of terrorist
activity directed against American citizens and interests, the
Department of State continues to advise U.S. citizens to defer
non-essential travel to Pakistan. Family members of official
Americans assigned to the Embassy in Islamabad and to the three
consulates in Pakistan were ordered to leave the country in
March 2002 and have not been allowed to return. U.S. Consulate
Peshawar instituted a drawdown of non-essential personnel in
November 2008.

(U) Continued U.S. military action in Afghanistan and Iraq and
ongoing Government of Pakistan efforts to curb an extremist
insurgency have all contributed to increased Anti-American
sentiment in Pakistan. Operations by the Pakistani military
against insurgents along the Afghan-Pakistani border have
resulted in a backlash of terrorist actions directed against
President Asif Ali Zardari's government and its police force. As
these operations continue it is expected that reprisals will
increase in kind. Continued reporting from an array of sources
suggests numerous non-specific threats stemming from the
remnants of the Taliban, splinter cells of Al-Qaida, and
militants sympathetic to their cause.

(U) Overall criminal activity in Lahore increased this past
calendar year. There are occasional reports from the American
community at large of residential break-ins. U.S. Embassy
personnel have on a few occasions reported that while out in
town, local individuals have made anti-American slurs to them,
though these incidents have yet to turn violent. Lahore is a
city under development with a population of one and a half
million. As the city grows in size and population, so does the
crime rate. As the Pakistani economy continues to worsen and
the shortage of energy, fuel and food grows, it is anticipated
that the rate of crime will increase across the country.

(SBU) The roads in Lahore and between major cities are paved and
adequate. However, in outlying areas the roads may be unpaved.
There have been vehicle accidents involving U.S. Consulate
personnel. This is due to Americans' inexperience of driving on
the left side of the road, poorly trained and unskilled local
drivers as well as local conditions such as pedestrians walking
in the road without looking for oncoming traffic. Driving at

night outside the city is not safe due to the large number of
individuals, carts, and cattle that travel along the unlit roads.

2. Political Violence:

(U) Over the past 30 years there has been a history of political
violence in Pakistan of targeting U.S. and Western interests as
well as sectarian violence. There have been attacks against
U.S. diplomatic personnel in Pakistan with the number increasing
substantially in 2008. In 2002, a suicide bomber attacked a
Protestant International Church in Islamabad a quarter of a mile
from the U.S. Embassy killing five people. In December 2007,
former Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, was killed during an
attack in Rawalpindi sparking protests and riots across the
country. In January 2008, a suicide bomber on a motorcycle
killed 26 (22 of whom were police officers) and injured 70 in
Lahore. In February 2008, a motorcycle suicide bomber crashed
into a Pakistani Armed Forces bus in Rawalpindi killing 11,
injuring 45. In March 2008, a car bomb destroyed the FIA
building in Lahore, killing 25. In March 2008, a satchel bomb
detonated at a restaurant in Islamabad killing 1 and injuring 4
U.S. Embassy personnel. In June 2008, a suicide car bomb
detonated at the Danish Embassy. In July 2008, an explosion at
the Melody Market in Islamabad killed 20 and injured 40. In
August 2008, over 50 people were killed when two suicide bombers
detonated themselves simultaneously at a Pakistan weapons
ordnance factory in Wah, near Rawalpindi. In August 2008, the
U.S. Principal Officer in Peshawar was the target of an
organized gun attack. In September 2008, over 50 people were
killed, including 3 U.S. Embassy employees and over 250 were
injured when a truck carrying over two thousand pounds of
explosives was detonated outside the Marriott Hotel in
Islamabad. In November 2008, an American working for a
non-government organization was shot and killed in Peshawar.

(U) Lahore and the Punjab region have been comparatively safe
for American citizens. No specific attacks against Americans
have occurred in Lahore since 1979. However, within this region
there are sectarian extremist, militant and designated foreign
terrorist groups. Lahore and the Punjab remain at critical risk
for terrorist attacks against American interests.

(U) There are significant threats to foreign interests in
Pakistan, both from entities aligned with or sympathetic to the
Taliban and Al-Qaida. All major western nations, including the
United States, have issued travel advisories recommending
against non-essential travel to Pakistan. Organized crime is
only a factor as it relates to assisting terrorism with weapons
and money and is not currently a direct criminal threat to
Americans. Pakistan experiences regional, international and
transnational terrorism threats and incidents.

(U) The issue of spontaneous demonstrations is an ongoing
concern. Demonstrations can involve hundreds to many thousands
of people. These demonstrations, while mostly peaceful, can
turn violent with little or no warning. Another concern is the
presence of extremist militants within the otherwise peaceful
crowd of demonstrators. The police generally maintain reliable
control of the crowds but on occasion, exuberance turns into
violence resulting in batons and gas being used on the crowds
when they become hostile and aggressive.

(SBU) Quite often on Friday afternoons, after prayers, there are
demonstrations in Lahore. While these are normally peaceful, the
police are out in force to control the situation because the
potential for violence always exists.

3. Post-Specific Concerns:

(U) Pakistan is subject to earthquakes in the north and west
regions of the country. A severe earthquake occurred on October
8, 2005 and is responsible for an estimated death toll of 87,000
persons. While the earthquake in 2005 was felt throughout most
of Pakistan, the northern frontier and Kashmir regions of
Pakistan sustained the greatest damage and loss of life.
Substantial aftershocks and landslides have occurred in these
areas. In October 2008, an earthquake occurred in the
Balochistan Province causing death and destruction to the
inhabitants of the area. Additionally, the Indus River is prone
to flooding after heavy rains especially during the monsoon
season of July and August.

(SBU) Industrial safety does not meet U.S. standards and
pollution from raw sewage and industrial waste in the water and
air is widespread. Air pollution, exacerbated in the winter
months is at levels which may cause severe irritation and
discomfort to individuals suffering from asthma or other
respiratory disorders.

(SBU) Public transportation and driving in Pakistan can be
extremely hazardous. Mission policy prohibits the use of public
transportation and taxis by Mission personnel for a number of
reasons. Vehicle maintenance, driver skills, and general lack of
road safety awareness by operators are all of concern. Although
there have been no incidences of kidnapping of Americans or
Westerners in Lahore, reporting from an array of sources has
brought the threat onto the radar. The Mission reminds its
personnel that it is paramount they continue their vigilance
with regards to their surroundings to ensure their personal

4. Police Response:

(SBU) The police services in Pakistan are below the professional
standards in the U.S. Lack of training, resources and low
salaries of police officers contribute to the problem. Police
response times in Lahore are usually within 15 minutes. The
local police emergency numbers in Lahore is 15. If there is a
language barrier, U.S. citizens can contact American Citizen
Services at the U.S. Consulate Lahore via the main consulate
switchboard at 92-42-603-4000. U.S. citizens may also use this
number should they be arrested or have any interaction with the
police which may require assistance.

(SBU) The government of Pakistan has taken measures to curb the
indigenous and transnational terrorist threat in Pakistan, to
include banning Islamic fundamentalist literature and groups
engaging in violent practices and rhetoric. Furthermore, the
government of Pakistan has increased the security
countermeasures and precautions taken for high-level Government
officials, diplomats, and areas frequented by westerners.

5. Medical Emergencies:

(SBU) Emergency medical care in Pakistan is only available in
major cities. Most Pakistani hospitals possess limited advanced
life support equipment and are not up to US standards. Travelers
should arrange for medical evacuation insurance personally or
through their sponsoring agency prior to arriving in Pakistan.
The following is the main hospital used by Consulate personnel:

Doctor's Hospital
152 - A-G-I Canal Bank, Jauhar Town
Phone: +92-42-530-2701 or +92-42-530-2709
Emergency Room: ext 3010 / 3090

Medical Evacuations:

(SBU) Air ambulance information is offered only as a guide and
is not a recommendation of one service over another. Travelers
are encouraged to research the availability of other air
ambulance services and to make an informed choice based on
individual needs and requirements.

AAA Air Ambulance Anywhere - United States
phone: 727-934-3999
fax: 727-937-0276
toll free: 1-800-327-196

AEA International Alarm Centers - Singapore
phone: 65-6338-7800
Fax: 65-6338-7611

6. Travel precautions:

(SBU) Situational awareness and common sense are imperative for
your personal safety. Avoid the appearance of carrying large
sums of money, dress conservatively and do not draw attention to
yourself. Avoid high-risk areas, crowds, and civil disturbances.
When traveling, do not be time and place predictable. Varying
your routes and departure/arrival times is vital to your safety.
If you feel that you are being followed or threatened in any
way, go immediately to a safe place such as a government
building that has police/security forces. Maintaining a low
profile is important. Avoid wearing clothing that identifies
you as an American.

(SBU) Whether you are driving or riding as a passenger, use
extreme caution, expect the unexpected, and drive defensively.
Road signs and traffic lights are often ignored. Traffic lights
at intersections are often out due to the power shortage.
Proceed through these intersections with caution. Wear seat
belts in front and rear seats, ensure doors are locked, and
insist that a safe speed is maintained.
Fire-fighting resources are lacking and it is advised that if
you stay in a high-rise hotel, try to keep to the lower floors.

(SBU) Many Americans and Westerners employ private security
guard services for their residences and offices. They are less
trained than those in the U.S. The following deficiencies are
typical of such security services in Pakistan: poor quality of
personnel attributed to low wages, little training, and limited
supervision. What the contracting firm fails to supply in the
way of equipment, the individual guard looks to the occupant to
provide (i.e. heater, fan, water, and even supplemental income).
The major contract security guard services in Pakistan area:
SMS, Phoenix Security Services, and Ashkari guards.

7. (U) For further information:

Embassy contact information:

Embassy main switchboard: 011-92-51-208-0000

Regional Security Office - Islamabad: 011-92-51-208-2203

Regional Security Office - Lahore: 011-92-42-603-4000

8. OSAC Country Council

(U) There is currently no formal OSAC in-country but the RSO
briefs any and all U.S. and allied private sector personnel when
requested. The establishment of a council for Lahore is
currently in the planning stages.