US issues travel advisory for Americans ahead of Feb 8 general elections in Pakistan

Islamabad, Feb 3: The US has issued a travel advisory for American citizens visiting Pakistan and asked them to exercise caution ahead of the general elections scheduled for February 8, and also warned of potential poll-related violence.
The US Embassy in Pakistan on Friday issued an advisory and asked its citizens to remain vigilant and aware of the locations of political rallies occurring in areas they intend to visit.
The advisory said on February 8, election day, areas around polling stations may be crowded and US citizens not eligible to participate in Pakistan’s elections should avoid them.
The mission noted that political parties in Pakistan were campaigning actively, such as taking out marches, rallies, and speeches, which are intrinsic to any democratic process. However, it further said that such public gatherings have the potential to block traffic, disrupt transportation and create obstacles to free movement and safety.
The advisory also cautioned that in some instances, political activities in Pakistan have been targeted for violence. Scores of pre-poll attacks on political parties have been reported this week from the troubled provinces of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The US mission advised American citizens not eligible to participate in Pakistan’s elections to avoid visiting areas around polling stations on February 8 as they may be crowded.
There could also be disruptions to internet and cellular service leading up to and throughout election day, it said.
It also provided recommendations such as avoiding areas of large public gatherings, exercising caution if one unexpectedly finds themselves in the vicinity of a large gathering or demonstration and reviewing one’s personal security plans.
The embassy urged US citizens to monitor local media, keep a low profile and also carry their identification documents and cooperate with police. (PTI)