Pak action futile: India on overflight clearance

FILE - In this Feb. 27, 2019 file photo, Indian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar gives a press statement in New Delhi, India. India on Saturday demanded that Pakistan take concrete steps against terrorists operating from its territory, while at the same time returning its top diplomat to Islamabad amid an easing of tensions between the nuclear rivals. Kumar said Saturday, March 9, that a reported Pakistani crackdown this week on seminaries, mosques and hospitals belonging to outlawed groups and arrest of dozens of people was not enough. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup, File)

New Delhi  India has expressed its displeasure at Pakistan’s unilateral decision to disallow President Ram Nath Kovind’s plane over its airspace.

Responding to a query on denial of overflight clearance to a VVIP special flight by Pakistan, Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson for Ministry of External Affair, said, “We regret the decision of the government of Pakistan to deny overflight clearance for the VVIP special flight which is otherwise granted routinely by any other country. We call upon Pakistan to recognize the futility of such unilateral actions”.

Pakistan on Saturday rejected a request made by New Delhi to let the airplane of Indian President Ram Nath Kovind fly over its airspace. Islamabad turned down the request based on the “alarming human rights situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK)”, according to Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

Qureshi said Prime Minister Imran Khan had approved of the decision to reject the request and added that “the Indian aggression in IoK” was responsible for Pakistan’s move.

The Minister added that Pakistan had shown “restraint” in reacting to India’s move on Kashmir, but New Delhi was “refusing to budge from its stubbornness and was denying basic facilities to the residents of occupied Kashmir”.

“In view of this, we have decided to not allow the Indian President to use our airspace,” he told PTV.

Islamabad’s decision comes amid tensions between the two neighbours over New Delhi’s revocation of the special status to Jammu and Kashmir on August 5.

Qureshi also said New Delhi’s “barbarism” in Kashmir was a serious issue which he would take up with the UN Human Rights Council.

He added that “34 days have elapsed since Indian authorities imposed a crippling curfew in occupied Kashmir” after revoking the region’s special autonomy.

In August, it was reported that Khan was considering shutting down Pakistani airspace for India. A complete ban on Indian trade to Afghanistan through Pakistani land routes was also under discussion, reports say.

Pakistan’s Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan had told a press conference earlier this week that their government had so far not taken any decision to close the eastern airspace to commercial flights from India; however “we have reserved the right to do so and it would be utilized at an appropriate time”.