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Diplomacy

Pakistan Rejects India's Request to Open Airspace for Modi Over Kashmir

"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," MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

Lahore/Islamabad: 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 US via Germany, citing “the current situation in Kashmir”.

“India had requested Pakistan to allow Modi to use its airspace to travel to Germany on September 21 and return on September 28,” 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.

After Pakistan refused the request, MEA 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 added.

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.

On September 7, Pakistan refused India’s request to allow President Ram Nath Kovind to use its airspace for his flight to Iceland.

Also read: India Criticises Pak Denial to President Kovind’s Request to Use Its Airspace

The Imran Khan-led government has been under pressure from the opposition and some ministers to impose a ban on India using its airspace after the Modi government revoked Kashmir’s special status on August 5.

Tensions between India and Pakistan spiked after India read down 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 SCO 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.

(With inputs from PTI)