Pakistan hails British govt's softened travel advisory

Pakistan hails British govt's softened travel advisory

Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui

The Pakistan government on Friday hailed the British government's revised travel advisory, which showed an improvement in the security situation in the country after years of violence.

Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said the revised advisory was a positive step for ties between the two countries.

"A positive step forward, forging even stronger and closer people-to-people links between Pakistan and GB (Great Britain)," she said on Twitter.

Farooqui added Pakistan "looks forward to welcoming more tourists, investors, academics and other visitors from Great Britain."

The UK government on Friday published a revised, softened travel advice for its citizens, as part of its comprehensive travel advisory review.

The assessment showed an improvement in the security situation in Pakistan after years of violence.

"Today's announcement is the result of a comprehensive review of UK travel advice for Pakistan, based on a wide-ranging assessment of the country's security situation," read a statement issued by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (UKFCO).

However, there were still some areas which the UK advised its citizen to avoid.

It advised British citizens to avoid travelling to the area between Mansehra in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and Chilas in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir on the Karakoram Highway.

The previous travel advice covered the full route from Islamabad to Gilgit.

"Travellers may bypass this section by taking the alternative route through the Kaghan Valley and Babusar Pass," it said.

It also asked the citizens not to travel to most of Balochistan province, including its capital city Quetta.

"This is except for the southern coast of Balochistan, including the city of Gwadar, where the FCO advises against all but essential travel," the advisory read.

Pakistan gets sizeable tourists from the UK due to large population of expatriates settled there.

In 2018, there were an estimated 4,84,000 visits by British nationals to Pakistan.

There are 22 weekly direct flights to the UK, making it easier for people to travel.

The relaxation of travel advice came months after British Airways returned to Pakistan in June 2019.

It was followed by the visit of Prince William and Kate Middleton in October 2019.

British High Commissioner to Pakistan Christian Turner, in a video statement, praised Islamabad for improving the security situation.

"Following my arrival in December 2019, I made this review of the travel advice a priority. It is great credit to the hard work of the government of Pakistan in delivering improved security over the past five years. I am delighted that British nationals will be able to see more of what Pakistan has to offer," Turner said.