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The Economic Times

Pakistan yet to decide on airspace restrictions

NEW DELHI: Pakistan has not yet taken a decision on closing its airspace to India, its civil aviation minister has said. Ghulam Sarwar Khan’s statement comes nearly a week after another minister had tweeted that such a move was being considered after India withdrew Jammu & Kashmir’s special status.

“All options regarding closure of the airspace were pondered over during the last cabinet meeting. However, no final decision has been taken so far,” Khan said at a press conference in Sindh on Monday. He, however, added: “We have reserved the right to do so and it would be utilised at an appropriate time”.

Pakistan had earlier closed its airspace on its eastern border with India for a few months after Indian fighter jets carried out an air raid at Balakot, Pakistan, following a suicide attack on Indian forces in Pulwama in February. It later lifted the restriction.

Pakistan’s narrative on Kashmir has so far found less sympathy globally. Experts say that with a faltering economy, the country cannot afford to lose additional revenue.

In July, the Pakistani minister had said that the civil aviation authority had suffered a loss of Rs (Pakistan currency) 850 crore owing to airspace restrictions since February 2019 after the standoff with India. The pressure from the UAE forced Pak to open the route for its airlines connecting Dubai and Abu Dhabi with New Delhi. Later, before PM Imran Khan’s Washington visit, Pakistan opened the airspace for US flights to India.

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