US Urges Citizens to Avoid J&K Travel

Foreign Tourists walk on Boulevard alongside Dal Lake in Srinagar. KO Photo, Abid Bhat

Washington- The United States in a new travel advisory on Tuesday urged its citizens to exercise "increased caution" while travelling to India and advised them to not to travel to Jammu and Kashmir and within 10 km of the India-Pakistan border.

Exercise increased caution in India due to crime and terrorism, the US State Department said in its latest travel advisory for India that decreases the risk of travel to India from Level 3 to Level 2. The last travel advisory issued by the United States was on January 25.

The State Department's travel advisory comes a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 1 Travel Health Notice due to COVID-19, indicating a low level of COVID-19 in India. Both the advisories are indicative of the fact that the US considers that the situation in India is now returning to normal.

However, its view on Jammu and Kashmir and the Indo-Pak border remains the same, where it is asking its citizens not to travel. "Terrorist attacks and violent civil unrest are possible in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Avoid all travel to this union territory (with the exception of visits to the eastern Ladakh region and its capital, Leh), the advisory said.

Sporadic violence occurs particularly along the Line of Control (LOC) separating India and Pakistan, and in tourist destinations in the Kashmir Valley: Srinagar, Gulmarg, and Pahalgam. The Indian government prohibits foreign tourists from visiting certain areas along the LOC, the State Department said. India and Pakistan maintain a strong military presence on both sides of the border, it said, adding that the only official India-Pakistan border crossing point for persons who are not citizens of India or Pakistan is in the state of Punjab between Atari, India, and Wagah, Pakistan.

The border crossing is usually open, but confirm the current status of the border crossing prior to commencing travel. A Pakistani visa is required to enter Pakistan. Only US citizens residing in India may apply for a Pakistani visa in India. Otherwise apply for a Pakistani visa in your country of residence before travelling to India, it said.

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