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Pak planning to shut airspace, trade route for India

By Sajjad Hussain
August 27, 2019 22:42 IST

Pakistan is once again mulling a complete ban on the use of the country's airspace by Indian flights, a senior minister said on Tuesday, weeks after the Indian government revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status.

Minister of Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said the decisions to close the airspace with India and to ban the use of Pakistan's land routes for India's trade with Afghanistan were taken at a Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

'Prime Minister is considering a complete closure of airspace to India, a complete ban on use of Pakistan land routes for Indian trade to Afghanistan was also suggested in Cabinet meeting, legal formalities for these decisions are under consideration... Modi has started, we'll finish!' he tweeted.

 

Pakistan had fully closed its airspace in February after an Indian Air Force strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camp in Balakot.

The country opened its airspace for all flights except for New Delhi, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur on March 27.

On May 15, Pakistan extended its airspace ban for flights to India till May 30. It fully opened its airspace for all civilian traffic on July 16.

Pakistan has already suspended its trade with India and stopped the train and bus services in protest to India's August 5 decision to end Jammu and Kashmir's special status.

Tensions between India and Pakistan spiked after India abrogated provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution to withdraw Jammu and Kashmir's special status and bifurcated it into two Union Territories, evoking strong reactions from Pakistan.

India has categorically told the international community that the scrapping of Article 370 was an internal matter and also advised Pakistan to accept the reality.

Separately, Special Assistant to Pakistan Prime Minister on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan told the media that the Kashmir issue was also discussed at the Cabinet meeting.

She said that the Cabinet endorsed Prime Minister Khan's view to fight the Kashmir case in the United Nations and every other world forum.

After Pakistan failed to drum up international support for its belligerent stand on Kashmir, Khan said on Monday that he will raise the issue at every international forum, including at the United Nations General Assembly.

Khan's address to the nation came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his meeting with US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G7 Summit in France on Monday, categorically rejected any scope for third party mediation between India and Pakistan on Kashmir.

During Modi's bilateral meeting with US President Trump, the Prime Minister categorically rejected any scope for third party mediation between India and Pakistan on Kashmir, saying the two countries can discuss and resolve all issues bilaterally and 'we don't want to trouble any third country'.

On his part, Trump said he and Modi spoke about Kashmir 'at great length' on Sunday night and he feels that both India and Pakistan can resolve it on their own.

"We spoke last night about Kashmir, the Prime Minister really feels he has it (situation) under control. They speak with Pakistan and I'm sure that they will be able to do something that will be very good," Trump said.

Pak Army chief discusses situation in Kashmir with top Chinese general

Pakistan and China have signed an MoU for the enhancement of defence cooperation and capacity building of the Pakistani Army, as the top generals of the two armies discussed the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

Tensions between India and Pakistan spiked after New Delhi abrogated provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution that gave the special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

China's Central Military Commission Vice-Chairman Xu Qiliang visited the Pakistan Army's General Headquarters in Rawalpindi with a high-level delegation on Monday and held a one-on-one meeting with Pakistan's Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa.

During the meeting, matters of mutual interest, regional security, avenues to enhance bilateral defence collaboration, and particularly the situation in Kashmir were discussed, the Inter-Services Public Relations, the media wing of Pakistan's military said.

Bajwa appreciated its all-weather ally China's understanding and support on all important issues particularly Kashmir.

The visiting general said China 'greatly values its time tested relations with Pakistan and its Army and is looking forward to further solidify this relation', according to the ISPR statement.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed by the two sides for enhancement of defence cooperation and capacity building of the Pakistan Army.

Later, General Xu called on Prime Minister Imran Khan who underlined the unique quality of the time-tested, Pakistan-China All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership, describing it as an anchor for peace and stability in the region and beyond.

"It was agreed that Pakistan and China would continue to closely consult and coordinate for the promotion of peace and stability in the region and maintenance of strategic balance," the prime minister's office said.

Khan also highlighted India's actions on Kashmir and thanked China for supporting Pakistan's approach to the UN Security Council.

General Xu conveyed cordial greetings of President Xi Jinping, as well as that of Premier Li Keqiang, and reaffirmation of China's full support to Pakistan, particularly at this crucial juncture.

Underscoring the importance of the time-tested China-Pakistan strategic partnership, he conveyed the Chinese leadership's commitment to the time-honoured tradition of both countries supporting each other on issues of core national interest.

He reiterated Beijing's resolve to work for further strengthening China-Pakistan ties in a broad range of areas. Xu underlined that the South Asia region needed stability and economic development and resolution of outstanding disputes and appreciated Pakistan's efforts in advancing those goals.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had air-dashed to Beijing to discuss the Kashmir issue with the top Chinese leaders after India scrapped the Article 370.

It was China that had asked for 'closed consultations' in the UN Security Council to discuss India revoking the special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

India has categorically told the international community that the scrapping of Article 370 was an internal matter and also advised Pakistan to accept the reality.

Sajjad Hussain in Islamabad
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