The State Department has warned Americans not to travel to Pakistan and evacuated nonessential government personnel from the country's second largest city because of a specific threat to the consulate there, a US official said today. The move was not related to the threat of an al-Qaeda attack that prompted Washington to close temporarily 19 diplomatic posts in the Middle East and Africa, US officials said. The US is shifting its nonessential staff from the consulate in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore to the capital, Islamabad, a US embassy rep said.
Emergency personnel will stay in Lahore, and embassy officials do not know when the consulate will reopen, she added. Yesterday, the State Department issued a travel warning saying the presence of several foreign and indigenous terrorist groups posed a potential danger to US citizens throughout Pakistan. Islamabad has also been under high alert in recent days because of intelligence received by the Pakistani government that militants were planning attacks on key targets in the city, including the airport and parliament. There was no indication that the militants were planning attacks on US targets in the capital.