Safety of an American in Lahore/Multan?
Replies: 27 - Last Post: Nov 25, 2012 5:13 PM Last Post By: Moniya
Nov 4, 2012 11:52 PM
15Agreed with wiedergehen that traffic is more dangerous in Pakistan then human,one should be careful while crossing the road.
Nov 9, 2012 2:02 PM
16In response to the issue talk2u raised about hiding your nationality, I respectfully disagree and would simply recommend using common sense...
I am a dual US/Mexican citizen, and I traveled throughout Pakistan this past August for a month on my US passport (tried unsuccessfully to get the visa in my Mexican passport). In Gilgit-Baltistan and most of the Northern Areas, I saw absolutely no reason to lie about my nationality. As previously stated, I encountered reactions of joy and surprise, and nothing but the warmest hospitality, from the locals when they found out I was American. Similarly, the soldiers at the numerous military checkpoints were more than anything amused and excited to interact with me..
No doubt, the majority of Pakistan is anti-American foreign policy, but that does not translate to crazy, jihadist violence upon hearing that an American was open-minded and adventurous enough to travel to their country...
On the other hand, when surrounded by a large crowd of people (generally comprised almost entirely of men) in the larger cities such as Lahore, and when traveling through some of the more sensitive areas such as Kohistan, I avoided bringing up my nationality. This was something I figured out on my own given my assessment of the safety of the surroundings and the potential for strong anti-American reactions...
Also keep in mind, most Pakistanis don't have nearly enough contact with average Americans to distinguish them from Europeans or Australians by looks alone..
Of course, if you want to err on the safe side, just say you're Canadian. With street smarts, however, it is generally unnecessary...
Nov 10, 2012 6:54 AM
when traveling through some of the more sensitive areas such as Kohistan, I avoided bringing up my nationality. This was something I figured out on my own given my assessment of the safety of the surroundings and the potential for strong anti-American reactions...
When one's new to a country, language and culture, mon amigo, assessments seem very superficial here.
One could travel as an American in Pakistan, without facing any problem, Pakistanis are friendly and hospitable people but the problem is not the security but unnecessary political debates, that could ruin one's mood and day.
Welcome to Pakistan ..
Nov 10, 2012 9:51 AM
just to give you a little background, I'm mixed race, mother is white Welsh, father is Asian Pakistani/Indian.
We have a house in Gujrat, to which we go on holiday to every couple of years. My mother, in all of her visiting years (25+) has never had any problems in Pakistan.
The key factor here is the media's portrayal of Pakistan. The Jihadist crazy people whom you may encounter on CNN or Fox News generally count for less than 1% of the population who are usually found in the nether-regions of Balochistan on the border with Afghanistan.
Now, Lahore and Multan are both found in the Pubjab district, it is the most advanced district in terms of social welfare, economics, lifestyle and governmental services, so you are "safest" in this region. But of course, no where on Earth is truly safe as they say, we all need a bit of common-sense. Don't go anywhere un-populated on your own in the dark etc.
Pakistani's are a curious bunch of people, my family included, and they can be the most hospitable people on the planet and will actually try to impress westerners to gain their approval. Believe it or not, Westerners are looked upon with a keen eye and held in high regard; as it was the British who developed the nation during the Raj, many of the facilities are still used today such as the Victorian railway system and the old college buildings, and even GT-Highway was built by western engineers. As previous posts have mentioned, stay out of the politics and religion and you'll have a good time.
Good luck, and enjoy yourself.
Nov 10, 2012 1:27 PM
Nov 10, 2012 9:59 PM
Nov 11, 2012 9:20 AM
21@ chitralguyimran, I totally agree, especially given that a traveled for four weeks without a single negative interaction. However, it's all about feeling comfortable and at ease when traveling, and there were certain situations where I felt it would be easier to avoid bringing up my nationality. During one-on-one interactions, however, this was never the case.
As far as annoying political discourse, I also agree, but for most Americans these conversations are somewhat enlightening ;)
Nov 11, 2012 10:06 AM
Nov 11, 2012 11:31 AM
23Bonjour from Islamabad,
nick82, thanks dear for very detailed and informative post above, very appreciable .
but for most Americans these conversations are somewhat enlightening ;)
It should be with enlightened people only.
Keep it up ..
Nov 12, 2012 4:01 AM
Nov 24, 2012 8:45 AM
25A little late to the conversation but...
...I'd be a little more cautious before accepting the position.
I lived and worked in Pakistan with an European aid agency for over a year and hence was privy to lots of security info - and several run ins with the Pakistani authorities when travelling in the country.
There are 2 issues:
1) You will be living and working in southern Punjab for some weeks / months, not just backpacking through - I agree with the posts saying that day-to-day you will be treated as an honored guest, and will enjoy nothing but courtesy and generosity - but you will become known, and most likely you'll be the only westerner living outside a city for 200km (you say yourself it is the middle of nowhere). Granted working for a small NGO makes you less of a kidnap target than a diplomat or CIA official, but I would say it is still a risk.
2) Given 1) above - the attitude of the Pakistani authorities will be vitally important. There are many security agencies at work in Pak - the local Multan police, the Punjab Commandos, the Federal Investigation Agency, the ISI, and probably others. They may be hesitant to have the hassle of an American (or any westerner) out in a rural area, at risk of attack or kidnap - and causing them a headache in the process.
Hence before going ahead ask some detailed questions of your employer - what is their relationship with the Federal and Punjab authorities? Are they aware that you are arriving? What visa will you be entering on - does it permit you to work / volunteer? Are you replacing another Westerner (this should provide you a lot of reassurance) or are you the first? What security will you have on your accommodation. Given they aren't going to meet you at Lahore airport (or pay for you to fly to Multan) it must be a very small NGO outfit.
Just to note when I visited Multan & Bahwalpur a few years ago the local police tracked me down to my hotel and then we had 2 (count them) truck load of AK47 welding Punjab Commandos escorting us where-ever we went.
On the positive side I've just checked the US and UK advice on travel to southern Punjab - which has toned down since I was there (advice now is to check the situation before travelling, rather than advising not to travel).
To conclude if you were just backpacking through I wouldn't be writing this as you can slip by under the radar, but given you are going to live there I'd get on the phone to the head of the NGO and ask some difficult questions.
Nov 24, 2012 9:29 AM
Nov 25, 2012 5:13 PM
its perfectly safe!!!!! make sure you go around Lahore!!!!!
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