Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Demonstrations and Chehlum Processions in Islamabad and Rawalpindi

November 8, 2017

The U.S. Embassy advises U.S. citizens in Islamabad and Rawalpindi about a large demonstration expected in Islamabad on November 9 and large processions marking Chehlum in Islamabad and Rawalpindi on November 9 and 10. The U.S. Embassy urges U.S. citizens to avoid both of these large gatherings.

A procession of over 5,000 demonstrators in over 120 vehicles has arrived at the Rawalpindi/Islamabad border, near the Faizabad interchange. The group intends to move towards the Parliament building and may end up in Sector G/6 near China Chowk. Police are monitoring the crowds, and have already closed numerous streets for crowd control. This procession may remain in Islamabad for an indefinite period of time.

Due to security and traffic concerns related to this group, the Embassy has advised U.S. government employees to avoid the following streets and intersections:

* NADRA intersection in front of NADRA office

* Agha Khan Road in front of Marriott Hotel

* Intersection Kashmir Highway-Club Road

* Khayaban-e- Suhrwardy Road in front of Serena Hotel

* Jinnah Avenue from Express Chowk until Faisal Avenue

Public processions take place throughout Pakistan during the Islamic month of Muharram. The end of Muharram, or Chehlum, will be celebrated in Islamabad on Thursday, November 9, and throughout the rest of Pakistan on Friday, November 10. The Embassy expects very large Chehlum processions (5,000 participants or more).

· In Islamabad, the Chehlum procession will gather at a mosque in Sector G/6 near China Chowk on November 9, beginning at 10 a.m. and ending in the evening;

· In Rawalpindi, the procession will be held in the afternoon of Friday, November 10, on the standard Ashura procession route.

While we are not aware of any threats to this year’s processions, we remind U.S. citizens that due to instances of sectarian violence directed at the Chehlum mourning processions in recent years, the Embassy has advised its employees to avoid these areas, and we recommend that private U.S. citizens observe the same precaution.

Due to the potentially large number of participants and unpredictability of these situations, the U.S. Mission in Pakistan recommends that U.S. citizens in Pakistan avoid demonstrations and other large crowds, and remain vigilant of their surroundings at all times. Even gatherings intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. All U.S. citizens are advised to monitor the situation via local media and our website, stay clear of all known procession routes and areas, keep a low profile, exercise caution, and avoid large gatherings. U.S. citizens should carry appropriate identity documents when in Pakistan and should cooperate with police and security forces in any encounter. It is possible that cell phone connections may be disrupted during periods of unrest.

· See the State Department’s travel website  for the Worldwide Caution, Worldwide Travel Alert, the active Travel Warning for Pakistan, and Pakistan Country Specific Information.

· Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.

· Contact the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, located at Diplomatic Enclave, Ramna 5, +92 51 201 4000. (Calling within Pakistan, dial 051 201 4000.) This number is also available 24 hours a day for emergencies involving U.S. citizens in other parts of Pakistan.

· Contact the U.S. Consulate in Karachi , located at Plot No. 3-5, TPX Area, Mai Kolachi Road, Karachi, at +92 21 3527 5000. (Calling within Pakistan, dial 021 3527 5000.) This number is available 24 hours a day for emergencies involving U.S. citizens in the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan.

· Contact the U.S. Consulate in Lahore, located at 50 Shahrah-E-Abdul Hameed Bin Badees (Old Empress Road), at +92 42 3603 4000. (Calling within Pakistan, dial 042 3603 4000.) This number is available 24 hours a day for emergencies involving U.S. citizens in the province of Punjab south of the Jehlum River and the district of Bhakkar.

· Contact the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar, located at 11 Hospital Road, Peshawar Cantonment, at +92 91 526 8800. (Calling within Pakistan, dial 091 526 8800.) This number is available 24 hours a day for emergencies involving U.S. citizens in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). See also Consulate General Peshawar’s section on the Mission Pakistan webpage

· Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada, or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

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