Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

  • Reviewed: 12 March 2024, 12:07 NZDT
  • Still current at: 16 April 2024

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COVID-19

If you are planning international travel at this time, please read our COVID-19 related travel advice here, alongside our destination specific travel advice below.

Do not travel

Do not travel to Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (except for Chitral district), and Pakistan-Administered Kashmir due to the high risk of kidnapping, terrorism and the unpredictable security situation (level 4 of 4).

Do not travel to the border areas with Afghanistan and India, including the line of control, due to the volatile security situation (level 4 of 4). This does not include Lahore, Wagah, Kasur, Narowal, Sialkot (except for areas within 15km of the border) and the Wagah official border crossing point.

Avoid non-essential travel

Avoid non-essential travel elsewhere in Pakistan due to the threat of terrorism, the risk of kidnapping, potential for civil unrest, sectarian violence and the unpredictable security situation (level 3 of 4). New Zealanders in Pakistan with concerns for their safety should consider leaving the country.

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Pakistan

As there is no New Zealand High Commission in Pakistan, the ability of the government to assist New Zealand citizens is limited. We offer advice to New Zealanders about contingency planning that travellers to Pakistan should consider.

Terrorism
There is an ongoing and significant threat from terrorism throughout Pakistan. Future terrorist attacks are expected, could be indiscriminate and could occur throughout Pakistan. We continue to receive information that terrorist groups are planning attacks in Pakistan, including against Western targets.

Numerous terrorist groups are present and operate in Pakistan. While terrorist attacks frequently target Pakistani Government institutions, security and military personnel, foreigners and foreign interests have also been targeted. The provinces of Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa are particularly volatile. There is an increased risk of attack during religious holidays and days of national significance. Security forces may cut mobile phone services and internet access until a threat has passed.

Potential targets across Pakistan could include Government, military institutions, security and law enforcement personnel, public places, sporting events, live music venues, hospitals, courts, hotels, transport hubs (including airports), markets, shopping malls, educational institutions, embassies, religious sites and identifiably Western interests, premises and symbols, including businesses and NGOs.

Methods of attack have included shootings, grenades, and bombings (including improvised explosive devices, roadside bombs and suicide bombs).

Sectarian violence is common in many parts of Pakistan and places of worship and religious sites associated with religious sects are also at risk of terrorist attack. The city of Karachi has high levels of political, sectarian and criminal violence.  Protests and demonstrations by religious and political parties have at times led to significant disruptions in the city and regularly result in violent civil unrest. There is a higher level of public security across much of Karachi, police and paramilitary rangers occasionally conduct counter-terrorism operations.

Pakistan has suffered a significant number of terrorist attacks. Recent attacks include:

  • On 17 February 2023, three police officers and one civilian were killed in an attack on the police headquarters in Karachi, claimed by the Pakistan Taliban.
  • On 30 January 2023, at least 92 people were killed and more than 170 injured in a suicide attack targeting a mosque in Peshawar, claimed by Jamaat ul-Ahrar, a faction of the Pakistan Taliban.
  • On 29 January 2023, four security forces personnel and two civilians were killed in coordinated attacks in Balochistan province, claimed by the Balochistan Liberation Army.
  • On 26 April 2022, 4 people were killed and 4 injured in a suicide IED attack at Karachi University in Karachi, Sindh.
  • On 4 March 2022, 63 people were killed and 198 injured in a suicide bombing at a Shia Muslim Mosque in Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
  • On 20 January 2022, 3 people were killed and 29 injured when an IED detonated outside a bank in Lahore, Punjab.
  • On 8 January 2022, 6 people were killed during an exchange of gunfire in Quetta, Balochistan.
  • On 30 December 2021, 4 people were killed and 15 injured when an IED detonated in Quetta, Balochistan.
  • On 5 September 2021, 4 people were killed and 19 injured in a suicide bombing in Quetta, Balochistan.
  • On 15 July 2021, 13 people were killed and 28 injured in an IED detonation in Kohistan Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

New Zealanders in Pakistan are advised to exercise extreme caution in public places, maintain very high levels of personal security awareness and take all possible security precautions to protect their safety. Discuss security issues with tour providers or business partners before travelling. We recommend monitoring the media and local information sources for new information on potential threats to safety and security. You should follow the advice of the local authorities and keep a low profile.

Kidnapping
There is a significant threat of kidnapping for ransom throughout Pakistan, especially in Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Foreigners are particularly at risk. Foreign nationals have been kidnapped in the past and killed or held captive for long periods of time. On 26 December 2023, a South African national was abducted in Sohrab Goth, Lahore. On 17 April 2021, two foreign nationals were kidnapped in Lahore.

New Zealanders in Pakistan are advised to seek professional security advice and ensure appropriate personal security measures are in place at all times. Travel routes and times should be varied and the use of public transport should be avoided.

Military Activity
The Pakistan military is conducting ongoing operations against militant groups within Pakistan, largely in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. We strongly advise that New Zealanders do not travel to areas where there are reports of militant or military activity.

New Zealanders in Pakistan should also be aware that any increase in violence between Pakistani security forces and militant groups or terrorists is likely to increase the possibility of reprisal terrorist attacks, which may not be limited to the geographic area of confrontation.

Border Areas
There is a volatile security environment along the border with India which could deteriorate without warning. With the exception of official border crossings, foreigners are prohibited from travelling within 15 kilometres of the entire border area with India, including the Kashmir Line of Control. Foreigners are also prohibited from travelling within 50 kilometres of the border with Afghanistan in Gilgit-Balistan. We strongly advise that New Zealanders do not travel to these areas.

If you must travel to Chitral district or Gilgit-Balistan despite this warning, do so by air rather than by road due to significant safety and security risks.

Violent and Petty Crime
Violent crime, including armed car-jacking, assault and robbery, occurs in many parts of Pakistan, particularly in Karachi, Balochistan, rural Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. There is a high level of lawlessness in some of these areas requiring a high level of vigilance. Petty crime such as bag snatching, passport theft and pickpocketing occurs and is common in tourist areas, in larger cities and on public transport. Credit card fraud is common, be aware of scams. We advise New Zealanders to be alert to their surroundings at all times and take steps to safeguard and secure their personal belongings. 

There have been incidents across Pakistan of people posing as police officers with fake police ID cards, including in Islamabad.

Celebratory gunfire is illegal but common. While the likelihood of being hit is remote, it has occasionally resulted in injury and death. If you’re in Karachi on New Year’s Eve, we recommend you stay indoors from 11pm until 4am the following day (New Year’s Day), to limit exposure to celebratory gunfire.

Women should consider additional gender based risks associated with traveling, particularly if they are alone, such as harassment and verbal abuse. Honour killings and forced marriages affecting foreigners have also been reported.  Standards of domestic violence support are far lower than similar services in New Zealand.

Be aware that same-sex relations and heterosexual couples living together in Pakistan is illegal. Many hotels and similar establishments may only allow “married couples” to stay together.  Same sex couples should be prepared to stay separately while travelling.

Avoid travelling alone and outside urban areas after dark. When travelling by car, it is advisable to keep doors locked and windows up at all times. Photo identification should be carried for presenting at police checkpoints.

Civil Unrest
With ongoing political demonstrations since 2022, the security situation in Pakistan remains unpredictable. Civil disorder is common and can develop into violence quickly. Authorities may suspend mobile networks and close roads at short notice in response.

New Zealanders are advised to avoid all demonstrations, protests, political rallies and large public gatherings in Pakistan given the potential for these to turn violent with little warning. If you are in an area affected by demonstrations or violence, you should leave the area if it is safe to do so, or find a safe location, remain indoors and follow the advice of local authorities.

Transport Safety
Avoid using taxis and public transport (including buses and trains) due to security concerns. Only use transport services provided by hotels and accredited tour operators.

We advise against travelling on the section of the Karakoram Highway from Mansehra to Chilas, via Battagram, Besham City, Dasu and Sazin due to security risks.

General Travel Advice
Access to certain areas of Pakistan may be restricted by authorities. New Zealanders in Pakistan should be aware of, and adhere to any restrictions in place on travel.

New Zealanders are advised to respect religious and social traditions in Pakistan to avoid offending local sensitivities. Strong Islamic codes of dress and behaviour exist in Pakistan. Wearing shorts or short- sleeved clothes is not recommended.  

Blasphemy is illegal in Pakistan, and can attract severe penalties, including the death penalty. New Zealanders who have made public  comments on social media that could be construed as blasphemous should not travel to Pakistan. Those accused of blasphemy are also at risk of significant violence from the public.

Air pollution is a problem across Pakistan, especially during winter months and those with pre-existing medical conditions, the very young, or the elderly may be particularly vulnerable. If you intend to travel or live in Pakistan, you may wish to seek medical advice in advance of your trip.

The monsoon season in Pakistan is normally from late June to early October. During this time, there is a heightened risk of severe flooding and landslides. Check local weather forecasts and in the event of a flood, always follow the instructions of local authorities.

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe and can include lengthy imprisonment, fines and sometimes even the death penalty.

Photography of government buildings or installations, airports, military establishments or officials, is illegal, and could result in detention. If in doubt, don’t take a picture. Flying unregistered drones, importing pig products and alcohol is also illegal in Pakistan.   

New Zealanders in Pakistan should have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place that includes provision for medical evacuation by air. You should check that your travel insurance policy covers travel to Pakistan – exclusions may apply.

New Zealanders travelling or living in Pakistan are strongly encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Travel tips


The New Zealand Embassy Tehran, Iran is accredited to Pakistan

Street Address No 11, Yekta Street, Bahar street, Shahid Fallahi Street, Valie Asr Avenue, Tehran Postal Address Post Code: 1973633651 Telephone +98 919 554 0130 Email nzembassytehran@hotmail.co.nz Web Site http://www.mfat.govt.nz/iran Hours Sun-Thurs 0900-1200 hrs

New Zealand Consulate-General Karachi, Pakistan

Street Address Suite 214-5, Glass Tower 2 Ft 3, Adjacent to PSO House Main Clifton Road Karachi 75530 Telephone + 92 21 3565 6993 Alternate Telephone +92 21 3565 6994 Email nzcgpk@gmail.com

See our regional advice for South Asia

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Accredited New Zealand Embassy Iran

Street Address
No 11, Yekta Street, Bahar street, Shahid Fallahi Street, Valie Asr Avenue, Tehran

Telephone: +98 919 554 0130

Email: nzembassytehran@hotmail.co.nz

Website: http://www.mfat.govt.nz/iran

Hours: Sun-Thurs 0900-1200 hrs

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