Crime Issues in Pakistan: What Travelers Need to Know

Petty crime is common in Pakistan. These are the types of things you need to be aware of to stay safe and out of trouble while traveling here.

Zaibunnissa Street in Saddar area of Karachi Photo © Getty Images/Bashir Osman's Photography

In the past five years (2014–2019) tourism has increased more than 300%. Pakistan is a huge country that spans 340,508mi² (881,913 km²). From soaring peaks like K2 to the beaches in Karachi, there are so many different landscapes to explore, things to see and places to go. So, to say crime is high in Pakistan isn't giving enough detail. It really depends on where you are.

Crime in Pakistan

Serious violent crime does happen in Pakistan, including armed robbery, robbery, carjacking, kidnappings, home invasion and murder.

But, these crimes are common in major urban areas. Wherever you go in Pakistan, it's important to keep a low profile, not be flashy with cash or valuables, and always be aware of your surroundings – walk with confidence, have a plan to know where you are going, and consider traveling on a group tour if you don't think you're ready for this extreme destination.

Petty crime in Pakistan

Petty street crime is also rife, and travelers are advised to be aware that the risk is high and to take whatever personal security measures are possible.

Be extremely careful with high value, easily portable items such as passports, bankcards, bags, jewelry, laptops, mobile phones, iPads and anything else you can think of.

There is a large black market for all of these items, and especially for passports whether forged or stolen. So, if you walk around with these items on show, you should expect someone is watching you closely. Never let your belongings out of sight here – let alone anywhere else in the world.

Credit card fraud is very common, so if the unfortunate event occurs and you do lose your credit card, cancel it immediately.

Is crime a real risk for travelers?

Foreign travelers have been targeted for their perceived wealth. For this reason, from the moment you arrive at the airport you should put your caution pants on. If possible you should try to arrange for your accommodation staff to pick you up from the airport, or organise a transfer for you – this will help you avoid traveling via public transport, which is an unsafe method of transport.

Scammers do operate at the airports, as this is where first-time visitors are most vulnerable and willing to trust "helpful" locals (who are indeed not helpful at all).

Communal and ethnic violence is a real and present risk in many districts in Karachi, so be aware of the cultural conflicts, and if a crowd or protest gathers, leave immediately.

Theft and kidnapping in Interior Sind

The risk of banditry and kidnapping in the Interior Sind is higher than the rest of Pakistan, where it's already fairly high to begin with. All be essential travel is advised against north of the Nawabshah, and there have also been reports of increased general criminal activity in the Hyderabad region. The Australian Government advise the risk of kidnapping is very high in Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and if you are traveling to Chritral district or Gilgit Baltistan (for K2 base camp or mountain treks), travel by commercial aircraft and not by road.

For the latest information and travel advice, check with your local government travel advisory. Many travel advisories suggest reconsidering your need to travel to Pakistan, which is an indication the security situation isn't great.

Have you traveled to Pakistan? Share your experience below!

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  • ubaid said

    I live in Pakistan and the stated reality above is not overall correct ! Yes in certain area this happens but if you move in big cities and areas there is near zero crime rate. For example if you move in the city "Karachi" the beach city there are only few area's to be avoided other than those areas the whole city is safe and sound and you can even walk in the night fearlessly on the beaches.

    same for the other cities like Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad. The safest city to be considered is, Islamabad the capital of Pakistan.

    The only crime 1 in 1000 person face is pic-pocketing or breaking the window's of car and taking important things.

    in some areas of Pakistan that are rural area fully off-skit from Urban big cities there are some medium crime rate and walks at night should be avoided.

    The overall situation in Pakistan is really really Good, There are the biggest cinema's, beachs, asia biggest malls, yes I repeat my self Asia biggest Mall "Lucy One" and Playlands that you can enjoy without fearing of anything.

  • Ubaid said

    I forget to mention the Pakistan has religion tolerance and gender tolerance highest in the world, its a civic society where you will find mix culture respecting every-other cultures. Some of the beautiful mosque and breath taking sights of Kaghan and Naran the natural beauty.

  • Danny said

    I agree, I was raised in Pakistan and have been residing in USA for past 12 years so it’s not that I am blindly suggesting these things. I never visited Karachi but lahore … islamabad and Rawalpindi muree etc are absolutely safe .. much safer than big cities in American states .. where there are plenty of bad joints and corners and drug gangs and violence. There is absolutely nothin like that in Pakistan. Yes you won’t find the wide range of entertainment facilities but if you are traveling to see culture … nature and enjoy food and festivals .. it’s a marvel to behold

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