Amid heightened tensions with India over the Kashmir issue, Pakistan has refused New Delhi’s request to allow Prime Minister Narendra Modi to use its airspace for his flight to the United States via Germany.
“Keeping in view the situation in Kashmir and India’s attitude witnessed in the tyranny and oppression and the violations of rights in the region, we have decided not to grant this request,” Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was quoted as saying by Dawn.
Modi is travelling to the US on September 21 to attend the United Nations General Assembly and other engagements in New York and Houston.
Reacting to the Pakistan government’s decision, the Ministry of External Affairs(MEA) 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.” The MEA also said 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.”
On February 26, Pakistan had fully closed its airspace 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. On July 16, Islamabad had opened its airspace for all civilian traffic.
But last month, following tension between the two countries after India’s decision to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 of the Constitution, the Pakistan government had said it was once again considering closure of its airspace for Indian flights. However, it is yet to announce its decision so far.
The latest development comes exactly 10 days after Pakistan turned down a request by India to allow President Ram Nath Kovind to use its airspace for his flight to Iceland. The latest round of diplomatic tit-for-tat also comes at a time when India has put across its point to the international community that J&K is India’s internal matter and any issues between India and Pakistan will be resolved bilaterally between the two countries.
Earlier, Pakistan had decided to downgrade diplomatic ties and expelled the Indian High Commissioner. It has also stopped all bilateral trade. Pakistan PM Khan has said that he will raise the Kashmir issue at every international forum, including at the UN General Assembly.
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