Ongoing Situational Report: Political and Economic Crisis in Pakistan

Written by Akshat Sharma

June 6, 2022

Travel

Picture courtesy: Flikr | License details

Travel Risk: HIGH

Brief introduction to the situation

The Republic of Pakistan is a federal democracy in South Asia and shares its borders with India, Afghanistan, Iran and China. The country has been going through political and economic turmoil since the Imran Khan-led government was removed after a no-confidence motion in April 2022. In May 2022, nationwide protests against the newly formed government led to mass violence and destruction across the country.

What has led to the current situation?

  • Rising inflation, deteriorating forex reserves, and unsustainable debts were some of the major factors that lead to the no-confidence vote against the erstwhile government.
  • Increasing polarisation has been experienced due to political confrontation between the former government and the military. Slogans and explicit allegations against the military have contributed to the violence in the last rally led by Imran Khan.
  • The new coalition government’s non-receptiveness towards former PM Khan’s demands of dissolving the Parliament and announcing elections has led to escalating violence in Islamabad, Karachi, as well as the Punjab Province.4
  • The demonstrations in Islamabad spread throughout the capital, leading to violent crackdowns by law enforcement. Police suppressed the protests by forcing detainment and firing tear gas on marches. Protesters had reportedly set fire to vehicles, shops, trees and a bus station. At least 18 law enforcement officers were reportedly injured in the clashes outside the parliament.
  • On 26th May 2022, Imran Khan issued a six-day ultimatum for the coalition government to concede to his demand for fresh elections in the country. This has raised security concerns regarding further violence and protests in Pakistan.5

Is it Safe to Travel to Pakistan?

It is currently NOT safe to travel to Pakistan due to heightened political and economic tensions. Tourists visiting Pakistan should minimise security risks by avoiding all public and political demonstrations since they can turn violent unexpectedly. 

Assessment

  • Travellers are advised to avoid public places and travel during future demonstrations to minimize safety and security risks. Imran Khan’s ultimatum for June 2022 may lead to escalating violence in the capital, as well as sensitive cities such as Karachi. There may be an increased number of police/security personnel at protests.
  • Travellers are also advised to reconsider travel to the Balochistan Province (Southwestern Pakistan) due to security threats from rising terrorism and insurgency in the region.
  • Travellers may experience long delays in commuting due to potential roadblocks by law enforcement and/or protestors.
  • Tourists travelling on vacation are advised to be vigilant as public infrastructure including restaurants, accommodations, hotels, and tourist places can become targets of violent protests.
  • Prospective investors and businesses are advised to be vigilant as current talks with the International Monetary Fund for financial help may be at risk of breaking down due to escalating political tensions. 7
  • Businesses currently operational in Pakistan are further advised to ensure the safety of their workforce as well as their infrastructure. Shops have previously been targeted during protests, and can therefore be prone to security breaches that may cause extensive operational and logistical costs.
  • Consider a Sitata membership which will give you disruption and threat warnings while you’re on the ground along with emergency travel assistance should you find yourself in a troubling situation.

Conclusion 

The travel risk to Pakistan is currently HIGH. Some countries advise their citizens to avoid all travel to this country due to the unpredictable and unstable safety and security situation.

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