South Asia

Pakistan Considering Complete Closure of Air Space to India: Minister

Fawad Chaudhry, a close aide of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, stated in a tweet that the federal cabinet was also considering banning India from using Pakistani land routes for India-Afghan trade.

New Delhi: Weeks after the Central government revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, and bifurcated it into two union territories, the Pakistan government said on Tuesday that it is once again considering a blanket ban on the use of its airspace by Indian flights, Hindustan Times reported. This after the country announced the closure of one corridor, forcing international flights – mainly to Western regions – to take a longer route.

Fawad Chaudhry, the minister for science and technology stated in a tweet that the federal cabinet, which met on Tuesday, was also considering banning India from using Pakistani land routes for India-Afghan trade. Chaudhry is a close aide of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The Pakistan government has consistently, and vehemently, condemned the government’s changes in J&K, with its prime minister even likening the situation evolving in the region to a “genocide of Kashmiris”.

Pakistan had earlier fully closed its airspace on February 26, after the Indian Air Force fighter jets struck a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist training camp in Balakot in retaliation to the Pulwama attack on February 14. Pakistan then fully opened its airspace for all civilian traffic on July 16.

Air India, the country’s flag carrier, operates around 50 flights daily through Pakistani airspace. These are flights to the US, Europe and the Middle East.

Also read: UN Chief Urges All Parties to Avoid Escalation in Kashmir During Meeting With Modi

Chaudhry said that a blanket ban on the use of Pakistani land routes for India’s trade with Afghanistan was also suggested during the cabinet meeting held on Tuesday.

He said the legal formalities for these decisions to take effect were under consideration.

“Modi has started we’ll finish!” the minister tweeted, referring to the Indian government’s move to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special autonomy on August 5.

Reacting to India’s decision, Pakistan expelled the Indian high commissioner soon after deciding to downgrade the diplomatic ties with India over what it called New Delhi’s “unilateral and illegal” move.

Chaudhry’s statement came a day after Prime Minister Khan said that he will raise the Kashmir issue at every international forum, including at the UN General Assembly next month.

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.

(With PTI inputs)