Pakistan denies permission for use of airspace to PM Modi’s flight
Announcing Pakistan’s decision in a video statement, foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said a request was received from India for the use of Pakistani airspace by Modi’s aircraft for overflight on September 20 and again on September 28 during his return journey.Updated: Sep 19, 2019 07:16 IST
Pakistan on Wednesday denied permission for the use of its airspace by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s special flight while travelling to the US this week, the second time it has barred overflight by an Indian VVIP in two weeks.
India regretted Pakistan’s decision and said overflight clearance is “granted routinely by any normal country”. On September 7, Pakistan had denied permission for Indian President Ram Nath Kovind’s aircraft to fly through its airspace because of the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.
Announcing Pakistan’s decision in a video statement, foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said a request was received from India for the use of Pakistani airspace by Modi’s aircraft for overflight on September 20 and again on September 28 during his return journey. Modi will be visiting the US during September 21-27.
“In view of the situation in (Jammu and) Kashmir and India’s attitude, oppression and barbarity...and the violation of rights in the region, we have decided not to give permission to the Indian prime minister and we have conveyed this decision to the Indian high commission,” he said.
Responding to the announcement, external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said: “We regret the decision of the government of Pakistan to deny overflight clearance for a VVIP special flight for the second time in two weeks...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.”
Pakistan closed its airspace in February after an Indian Air Force strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) camp in Balakot. The restrictions on all civilian traffic were removed on July 16. Though Pakistan opened its airspace for Modi’s flight to Bishkek to attend the SCO summit in June, India opted not to use Pakistani airspace at that time.
The latest development came against the backdrop of heightened tensions over India’s August 5 decision to revoke J&K’s special status. Pakistan has sought to internationalise the Kashmir issue and said it could spark a war.
India has described the changes in Kashmir as an internal matter, and external affairs minister S Jaishankar said on Tuesday that Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) too is part of India and the country expects to have “physical jurisdiction” over it one day.
Pakistan fired back late on Tuesday, describing Jaishankar’s remarks as “jingoistic rhetoric”. A statement issued by the Foreign Office said: “We strongly condemn and reject the inflammatory and irresponsible remarks made by the Indian external affairs minister regarding Pakistan and AJK (Azad Jammu and Kashmir).
These remarks, it said, were an “obvious manifestation of India’s utter frustration” over international censure of human rights violations in Kashmir.
The statement also accused India of committing “state terrorism” in the region and said international attention on the issue cannot be diverted by “blaming Pakistan”.
Pakistan also asked the world community to take “serious cognisance of India’s aggressive posturing about taking ‘physical jurisdiction’” of PoK. Such remarks could “further escalate tensions and seriously jeopardise peace and security in the region” and Pakistan is “ready to respond effectively to any act of aggression”, the statement added.
In a related development, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday ruled out talks with India unless New Delhi lifts the “curfew” in Kashmir and reinstates Kashmir’s special status.
Talking to the media after inaugurating the Torkham Terminal on the border with Afghanistan, Khan also warned Pakistanis not to go to Kashmir for jehad as it would hurt the cause of the Kashmiris.
“If anyone from Pakistan goes to India to fight jihad...he will be the first to do an injustice to Kashmiris, he will be the enemy of Kashmiris,” he said. Khan claimed India needed “an excuse to launch a crackdown” on the Kashmiris.
Khan further said he would “forcefully present the Kashmir issue like never before” at the UN General Assembly next week.
First Published: Sep 19, 2019 03:11 IST