ISLAMABAD: The embassy of the United States (US) has issued a warning to the US citizens not to visit Marriott Hotel Islamabad for the next several days.
One the other hand, security of the hotel has been further tightened with police and Rangers personnel patrolling around the building.
An advisory issued by the US embassy stated that the embassy was aware of a general but uncorroborated threat against the hotel. US citizens were advised to avoid the area for the next several days to allow time to assess the situation.
“US citizens are already urged to defer all non-essential travel to Pakistan. The mission reminds those US citizens considering travel to or remaining in Pakistan despite this warning to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), keep a trusted friend informed of your movements in country, maintain vigilant situational awareness, avoid large crowds, keep a low profile and avoid visiting locations frequented by westerners. US citizens in Pakistan are strongly urged to avoid hotels that do not apply stringent security measures.”
Though embassy refers to a general but uncorroborated threat, Marriott Hotel says foolproof security in place
It added that official US Mission personnel and visitors were not allowed to use public transportation in Pakistan and were not authorised to stay overnight in hotels in the country. “US citizens should exercise caution when traveling in the country, keeping in mind the high security threat level,” it said.
“Travelers are urged to vary their times and routes when traveling anywhere in Pakistan, and to avoid travel patterns to any such locations that might allow other persons to predict when and where they will be.
“Consular services in Pakistan are available in Karachi and Islamabad. The consulates in Lahore and Peshawar are not providing consular services at this time,” it added.
It may be mentioned that though Marriott is considered one of the safest hotels in the federal capital, it faced a suicide attack in September 2008 in which over 50 people were killed and 250 others injured.
When contacted, assistant chief security officer of Marriott, retired Col Mohammad Zubair, told Dawn that the US embassy had also contacted the hotel administration and discussed the security arrangements.
“Though we do not know why the embassy is worried and what kind of security alert it had received, we have foolproof security arrangements.
“I believe that it is a general threat which has been circulating for a few days because we talked to an embassy official but he did not disclose what the actual threat was,” he said.
“However, the government has also taken the matter seriously and enhanced the security. Currently, both the police and Rangers are patrolling around the hotel to ensure its security,” he said.
“Moreover, Marriott is the only hotel where three retired army officers having intelligence-based training and skill are working. A retired brigadier is monitoring all the security arrangements,” he maintained.
Courtesy : Dawn News