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Pakistan refuses India's request to open airspace for PM Modi

Last week, Pakistan had denied permission to President Ram Nath Kovind's aircraft to use its airspace during his official trip to Iceland. But, in August Pak had allowed the PM’s flight through its airspace

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Sep 19, 2019, 07.31 AM IST
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Reuters
Narendra-Modi-Reuters
Prime Minister Modi is travelling to the US on September 21 to attend the 'Howdy Modi' diaspora event on September 22 and address the UN General Assembly on September 27.
NEW DELHI: Pakistan has rejected India's requestto allow Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aircraft to use its airspace during its flight to the United States this weekend. “We have conveyed to the Indian High Commission that we will not allow use of our air space for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's flight,”Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said in Islamabad on Wednesday.

Reacting to the decision, an external affairs ministry spokesperson 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 ofmisrepresenting the reasons for taking unilateral action.”

Pakistan’s rejection violates the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) charter which stipulates that there cannot be discrimination shown to specific flights on air space use when the corridor is open. Delhi may approach ICAO, which has the power to slap fines on Islamabad for violating the charter.

India had last week written to Pakistan, seeking nod for use of airspace for the PM’s flight and it was mandatory for Pakistan to respond to India’s request before Friday as Modi’s visit to the US begins on Saturday. Last week, Pakistan had denied permission to President Ram Nath Kovind's aircraft to use its airspace during his official trip to Iceland.

Pakistan had closed its airspace in February after Indian Air Force’s strikes on a Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camp in Balakot. The country reopened it for certain flights on March 27 and fully opened the corridor for civilian traffic on July 16. Islamabad, meanwhile, denied permission for PM’s flight to Bishkek for SCO summit in June. However, the PM’s flight used Pakistani airspace to travel to France in August. Though Pakistan threatened to close its airspace after India withdrew its special status to Jammu and Kashmir, fear of revenue loss forced Islamabad not to carry out the threat.
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