United States announces new travel advisory, asks citizens not to visit Pakistan

The State Department debuted a new system for warning travelers about potential danger abroad

It also added that the USA government has "limited ability" to provide emergency services to its citizens in rural areas of eastern Maharashtra and northern Telangana through western West Bengal, where Maoist extremist groups are present, since they require special authorization to visit.

Travellers planning to visit countries at level one are encouraged to "exercise normal precautions", while areas at level two encourage visitors to "exercise increased caution", level three advises individuals to "reconsider travel", while level four applies to areas of the highest risk, suggesting a "do not travel" warning.

Through the four-tiered system, launched by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs, countries are ranked from level one to four, with level one being of lowest travel risk.

Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) are placed in the "do not travel" category due to terrorism. "In the past, there have been large-scale terrorist attacks resulting in hundreds of casualties", highlighted the federal executive department.

U.S. citizens are advised to avoid travel "due to serious risks to safety and security".

"Do not travel to the state of Jammu and Kashmir (except the eastern Ladakh region and its capital, Leh) due to terrorism and civil unrest, and within 10 km of the India-Pakistan border due to the potential for armed conflict", the advisory said.

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But travelers were often confused on the difference between warnings and alerts, or between emergency and security messages, Bernier-Toth said. "US citizens who travel overseas should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations". When visiting countries in that grouping, USA citizens are urged to "exercise increased caution". But the advisories echo what the department tells its own workers about travel risks.

Besides Malaysia, Canada and Australia, other countries in the same category include Brunei, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea, Kazakhstan, and New Zealand. "Conditions in other countries may differ from those in the United States and may change at any time", the State Department's webpage notes in its fact sheet. The state department blamed crime and terrorism for the increased level of caution advised to its travelers.

The United States itself is not rated in the new system.

According to American officials, the travel advisory is "user-friendly" as it is based on the ready-to-understand level of advice ranging from one to four.

"There's still a collaborative process that involves our security experts, the Intel community, host governments, our embassies and consulates, the information that they feed to us we then assess and determine how we are going to rank a country".

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