A demonstration organised by opposition party Jamaat-e-Islami is expected to march to the US embassy in Islamabad on Sunday, July 9. The march has been planned to protest the designation of Syed Salahuddin (leader of the extremist Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) group) as a terrorist by the US State Department. It is unlikely that authorities will allow the rally to enter the diplomatic enclave; the demonstration is likely instead to convene along Jinnah Avenue. Expect increased security measures and localized traffic disruptions in the area.
The US State Department designated senior leader of HM, Mohammed Yusuf Sallah (Syed Salahuddin) as a global terrorist in June 2017. The designation prohibits US citizens from engaging in any transactions with Salahuddin. Under Salahuddin’s leadership, HM has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks, including an April 2014 attack in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir region, injuring 17. In September 2016, Salahuddin vowed to block peaceful resolution the conflict in Kashmir with neighbouring India, including threats to train more suicide bombers and to turn the Kashmir valley “into a graveyard for Indian forces”.
Individuals in Islamabad are advised to avoid demonstrations and public gatherings, to anticipate a significant security presence and transportation disruptions in the vicinity of any rallies, and to follow instructions issued by local authorities.
As a reminder, Western governments advise their citizens against nonessential travels to Pakistan due a nationwide high threat from terrorism, kidnapping, and sectarian violence. Travel should only be considered with strict security protocols in place.