Rejected India’s plea to open airspace: Pakistan
Pakistan has turned down India’s request to lift restrictions on the use of its airspace until New Delhi removes its fighter jets from forward Indian Air Force bases close to the Indian-Pakistan border, said officials familiar with the matter.
Pakistan’s aviation secretary Shahrukh Nusrat, who is also the director general of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), on Thursday informed the Senate Standing Committee on Aviation that his department has intimated Indian officials that Pakistani airspace would remain unavailable for use by India, said the officials.
Pakistan closed its airspace on February 26 after the Indian Air Force fighter jets struck a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training camp in Balakot following the Pulwama terror attack.
“The Indian government approached asking us to open the airspace. We conveyed our concerns that first India must withdraw its fighter planes placed forward,” Nusrat reportedly told the committee. He also contested India’s claim that Delhi had opened its airspace for Pakistan.“Pakistani flights from Thailand have not been restored since the closure of the Indian airspace. Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flights for Malaysia also remain suspended,” he informed the committee. He further said that Indian officials have contacted Pakistan requesting it to lift the airspace restriction. “However, Indian officials have been told that Indian airbases are still laden with fighter jets and Pakistan will not allow resumption of flight operations from India until their removal.”
Further, Pakistan extended its airspace ban along its eastern border with India till July 26, the CAA announced Friday.
Meanwhile, government officials familiar with the matter said it was Pakistan’s decision to close its airspace and it would be its own decision to open it. “It is for us to decide where we deploy our military assets...Pakistan is trying to link the issue of airspace closure to unrelated matters,” the officials added.