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Pakistan?
Old 11-11-2010, 01:50 AM   #1
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Pakistan?

Some may remember that I am still shackled to the plough. But sometimes something fun comes up.

I have an opportunity to give three day's training on a technical subject I know well, in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Never having been there, I am trying to figure out if this is a good idea or not. (Sidenote: I was in New Delhi when Indira Ghandi was killed. It was interesting, but I survived.)

Several friends who are either from there or have visited on business have said that it would probably be OK. From my personal research, it does not seem too outrageous. I would be accompanied in a city that has good public security, I am told.

However, the State Dept has a Travel Warning out on PK Pakistan due to kidnappings for ransom and so forth. It is a little old but it is impossible to get anything more out of them. No Warden Messages are active at the moment. And I am a very visible Westerner.

It appears that I cannot get travel insurance or life insurance for this trip, perhaps due to the official travel warning. Kidnapping and Ransom Insurance doesn't seem to work very well, either. (You can't buy it your company must. If you know they have it for you, it is invalid. K&R doesn't pay the ransom; your employer does, then the ins co reimburses them. This is a two-man company. That won't work very well.) I would take the risk if I could get a short-term life insurance policy and/or travel insurance for the trip, but PK seems to be excluded. (For a reason?)

So I figured, why not ask here. What do y'all think? Does someone in the forum have recent direct experience with this situation and place? Advice? Comments? Any spooks out there with field knowledge of Islamabad today? I need to decide very soon.

Thanks mucho.

Cheers,

Gypsy
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Old 11-11-2010, 06:03 AM   #2
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Ed, I have no experience with the subject but that's never stopped me from giving my opinion.

This could turn out to be both an adventure and the answer to your "how will I be able to afford retirement?" question. You won't need a fat portfolio if you're dead.
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Old 11-11-2010, 07:03 AM   #3
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It seems to me that much of this boils down to the specifics of your visit.
Duration: If you'll be there for 5 hours it's less risky than 5 weeks. Unless you just happen to be the victim of random violence, planning an attack takes time.
Physical security: Gonna have guards? Ones that can be trusted? While much has been written about rotten apples within the Pakistani intelligence services, if you are visiting and under the protection of the govt I think that would be better than private security arrangements.
Profile: A gathering af 8 industry insiders is less likely to attract attention than an address to 200 college kids.
Billeting: Obviously, a large Western hotel is more secure than some other arrangements. But, as we know, the Marriott in Islamabad was destroyed by a truck bomb in Sep 2008, so there are no guarantees.
I've only visited PK briefly, a long time ago, and under very different conditions, so I've got no applicable tips. Sorry.

It could be a lot of fun, and it would certainly be an adventure. But it ain't like going to Toledo.
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Old 11-11-2010, 07:18 AM   #4
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If I could be guaranteed I wouldn't be kidnapped or killed, I would go. Of course, I'm a CD kind of guy.
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Old 11-11-2010, 08:03 AM   #5
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It would be interesting. A fellow I worked with was from India but had family he visits in Pakistan. He says the place is a mess. Will you have a guide? While LA, Chicago & the like have neighborhoods you don't want to wander into they have those on steroids over there. Yet there are undoubtedly wonderful people to meet and adventures to be had.
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Old 11-11-2010, 08:52 AM   #6
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What do you think will be interesting in Islamabad, Pakistan? Go to Egypt or Morocco if you want to visit a Islamic country.
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Old 11-11-2010, 08:57 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Ed_The_Gypsy View Post
However, the State Dept has a Travel Warning out on PK Pakistan due to kidnappings for ransom and so forth.
I suggest declining until the Travel Warning is rescinded, for reasons of common sense.
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Old 11-11-2010, 08:58 AM   #8
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You won't need a fat portfolio if you're dead.
I thought about that. Forget about the K&R insurance. It seems rather useless. Nobody can come up with ransom, so the end result would be death anyway. What is more important to me is valid life insurance. That may be the deal breaker. I have gone many places without travel insurance before.

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If I could be guaranteed I wouldn't be kidnapped or killed, I would go.
Yeah, that is kind of my position, too.

I would stay in a guest house. The presentation would be in a training center. Travel arrangements would be taken care of by the sponsoring organization and there would be 'security' as required. One of my non-negotiable points is that the flight in and out would be directly into the city, no layovers in-country, no flights on unknown puddle-jumpers (per recommendation from a recent business traveler). (Originally they had me waiting several hours each way in some unknown airports in-country. ) Since Sept 2008, I gather that the govt has been very serious about security in Islamabad.

I do not plan to do any touring. As in New Delhi, I ain't gonna leave the building.
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Old 11-11-2010, 09:02 AM   #9
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One more question: will you get some serious hazardous duty pay for doing this?
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Old 11-11-2010, 09:09 AM   #10
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What do you think will be interesting in Islamabad, Pakistan? Go to Egypt or Morocco if you want to visit a Islamic country.
Actually, I have no interest in visiting any Islamic country. It is the job that is so cool.

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I suggest declining until the Travel Warning is rescinded, for reasons of common sense.
I am thinking about that. It could be a LONG time coming, though. Quite true: common sense would be to stay home. However, I have reservations about such pronouncements from the State Dept. It only just now occurred to me to check out advisories from other countries (the UK and Australia have on-line advice on the subject...in English). Must do.

Cheers,
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Old 11-11-2010, 09:15 AM   #11
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REW, the pay is good. The real attraction is that this is a big step into training. It fell out of the blue and I have always done well by jumping on unusual opportunities.
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Old 11-11-2010, 09:17 AM   #12
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W2R, is there some significance to the morph of your avatar just now to "We aren't in Kansas Anymore, Toto"?
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Old 11-11-2010, 09:22 AM   #13
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The Travel Warning is probably never going to be rescinded (like the US is never going to go below the code yellow alert level).

If you'll get personal and professional satisfaction from leading the training, go. Think how interesting you'll be at cocktail parties when you casually start stories with "When I was in Islamabad...."
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Old 11-11-2010, 09:23 AM   #14
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Never having been there, I am trying to figure out if this is a good idea or not.
NOT

......but when it comes to 3rd world hell holes i tend to be a belt and suspenders kinda guy.

50 years ago, yeah. i bet pakistan, afghanistan, iran, iraq in the 50's and 60's were amazingly exotic adventures. that was then, this is now.

you can't guarantee any of those guarantees about security or puddle jumper flights, when you are there and they change the game plans what exactly are you going to do, take your ball and bat and go home? if i was you, if i was going to be there 24 hours, with security et al and they were paying me 1 million dollars tax free i'd tell them to go jump in the lake. but that's me maybe you don't view it as risky as i do or see it as an adventure worth the risk.

good luck with your decision.
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Old 11-11-2010, 09:24 AM   #15
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W2R, is there some significance to the morph of your avatar just now to "We aren't in Kansas Anymore, Toto"?
Well, I just changed it for a lark, but if the shoe fits....
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Old 11-11-2010, 09:56 AM   #16
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I would insist that my employer provided kidnapping, life and disability insurance for this trip. My daughter's firm has that although none of their employees travel to Pakistan or Iraq.
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Old 11-11-2010, 11:38 AM   #17
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Personally, I wouldn't go.

I had to go to Mumbai on business in 2007 for 10 days and was more nervous about getting sick than with security, however when I arrived and went outside the terminal to look for my taxi to the hotel the mass of folks was very unnerving and I was relieved when I spotted a person dressed in the uniform for the hotel with a computer print out that had my name on it. I was also assigned a taxi driver for the whole time I was there, which was very re-assuring to see the same face every day come to pick me up.

I personally knew 2 colleagues who had been attacked and robbed while in a taxi on business for our company - in Columbia, and in Nigeria so I am very nervous about these things.
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Old 11-11-2010, 12:17 PM   #18
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At least it isn't Peshawar.

Be sure to report back after you return.

Ha
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Old 11-11-2010, 01:47 PM   #19
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I have a friend who does this type of trip all the time, and I know many people from Pakistan, but I would personally not take this trip at this time because of concerns about disease (cholera after the floods) and terrorism.

I know you are a US citizen, but I did check the Canadian Foreign Affairs website, and the language is pretty clear:

AVOID ALL TRAVEL

Pakistan Travel Advice and Advisories | Government of Canada
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Old 11-11-2010, 02:58 PM   #20
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And in today's news from Pakistan:

Suicide car bomb rips through Karachi | World | News | Toronto Sun

KARACHI - A suspected suicide car bomb struck a security compound in a high security neighbourhood in Pakistan’s largest city Karachi on Thursday night, killing at least 15 people and injuring dozens, officials said.
The attack took place at the compound of the Criminal Investigation Department, just metres from the provincial chief minister’s house, in the central Karachi district known as the “red zone””because of its high security, police said.
The U.S. Consulate, five-star hotels and other important buildings are also within a couple of kilometres.
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