United States Consulate General Karachi, Pakistan Ashura Events November 3-4, 2014

This security message from the U.S. Consulate General in Karachi alerts U.S. citizens about safety and security concerns during the 9th and 10th of Muharram holidays, also known as Ashura. Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar, and marks the anniversary of the Battle of Karbala where the grandson of Prophet Muhammad and his family members were killed. The Shia sect of Islam begins mourning from the first night of Muharram and continues the entire month. The mourning reaches its climax on the 9th and 10th days (November 3-4 this year), known as Ashura. On and around these dates, there will be large gatherings and processions in Karachi and throughout the provinces of Sindh and Baluchistan. These events are considered to be prime targets of sectarian terrorists, and have been targeted for attacks in the past.

During this period, there will be an increased presence of security forces visible throughout the region. Routes and locations of processions and other Muharram related events change frequently, and U.S. citizens can expect sudden road closures and additional security checkpoints. In addition, U.S. citizens should be aware that communications services, such as cellular phones, may be shut down during some or all of this period.

The Consulate advises all U.S. citizens to remain alert, and avoid high-profile locations, crowds, and demonstrations. To avoid being a target, U.S. citizens should keep a low profile and limit unnecessary travel. The Consulate reminds U.S. citizens to verify that your travel documents, visas, and residency documents remain valid.

Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. You should avoid areas of demonstrations, and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of State reminds U.S. citizens of the high security threat level in Pakistan and warns U.S. citizens to defer all non-essential travel to Pakistan.  The U.S. Mission in Pakistan urges U.S. citizens to vary their times and routes when traveling anywhere in Pakistan, and to avoid travel patterns to such locations that would allow other persons to predict when and where they will be. Depending on ongoing security assessments, and as part of routine operational security measures, the U.S. Mission occasionally places areas such as hotels, markets, airports, and/or restaurants off limits to official personnel.

Updated information on travel and security in Pakistan may be obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). For further information, please consult the Travel Warning for Pakistan and the Country Specific Information for Pakistan, as well as the Worldwide Caution.  You can also stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which also contains current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts.  Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook to have travel information at your fingertips. For additional information, refer to the “Traveler’s Checklist” on the State Department’s website.

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Pakistan enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at travel.state.gov. STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

To view emergency services to U.S. citizens in the different consular districts, please click on the links below:

Contact Information for all U.S. Mission to Pakistan Posts for American Citizens Services:

The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad is located at Diplomatic Enclave, Ramna 5; telephone (92-51) 208-0000; Consular Section telephone (92-51) 208-2700; fax (92-51) 282-2632; website; e-mail address: ACSIslamabad@state.gov.

The U.S. Consulate General Karachi, located at Plot No 3-5, TPX Area, Mai Kolachi Road, Karachi, provides routine services to U.S. citizens by appointment only. Services can be scheduled by calling (92-21) 3527-5000 between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., Monday-Friday; fax (92-21) 3527-5885; website; e-mail: ACSKarachi@state.gov. If you are a U.S. citizen in need of urgent assistance outside of business hours, the emergency after-hours number for the U.S. Consulate General is: In Pakistan: 021-3527-5000. From the U.S. or International: +92-21-3527-5000.

The U.S. Consulate General Lahore is located at 50 Sharah-E-Abdul Hameed Bin Badees, (Old Empress Road) near Shimla Hill Rotary. Consular operations in Lahore have been temporarily suspended. Please direct any inquiries to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad or the U.S. Consulate General in Karachi.