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Pak refuses to open airspace for PM Modi, India slams decision

Last updated on: September 18, 2019 22:24 IST

Pakistan on Wednesday rejected India's request to allow Prime Minister Narendra Modi's VVIP flight to use its airspace for his upcoming visit to the United States via Germany, citing 'the current situation in Kashmir'.

"India had requested Pakistan to allow Modi to use its airspace to travel to Germany on the 21st (Sept) and return on 28th (Sept)," Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said.

Announcing the decision via a video statement, Qureshi said the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad had been informed of Pakistan's decision to not allow prime minister's Modi's special Air India One aircraft to fly over the country.

 

"In the light of the current situation in Kashmir, India's attitude and atrocities there, we have decided to not allow our airspace for the flight of the Indian prime minister," he said.

India hit out at Pakistan, saying Islamabad should reflect upon its decision to deviate from well established international practice and reconsider its 'old habit' of misrepresenting the reasons for taking unilateral action.

Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said: "We regret the decision of the government of Pakistan to deny overflight clearance for the VVIP special flight for a second time in two weeks, which is otherwise granted routinely by any normal country."

"Pakistan should reflect upon its decision to deviate from well established international practice, as well as reconsider its old habit of misrepresenting the reasons for taking unilateral action," he said.

Pakistan's denial comes days after it refused permission to President Ram Nath Kovind's aircraft to fly over it during an official trip to Iceland.

Prime Minister Modi is travelling to the US on September 21 to attend the 'Howdy Modi' diaspora event on September 22 along with US President Donald Trump. He will also address the UN General Assembly in New York on September 27.

Imran Khan-led government has been under pressure from the Opposition and some ministers to impose ban on India to use its airspace after India revoked special status of Kashmir on August 5.

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 reaction 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.

In June, Pakistan 'specially' opened its airspace for the flight of Prime Minister Modi to Bishkek to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit.

However, India decided not to use the Pakistani airspace for the VVIP aircraft.

Pakistan 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.

M Zulqernain in Lahore/Islamabad
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