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

ISLAMABAD: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi would not be allowed to use Pakistan’s airspace for his upcoming visit to Germany, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said, after New Delhi requested Islamabad’s permission.

Announcing the decision via a video statement, FM Qureshi said the Indian High Commissioner had been informed of Pakistan’s decision to not allow Modi’s aeroplane — the VIP jet Air India One — to fly over the country.

FM Qureshi noted that the Indian government had sought permission to use the Pakistani airspace for Modi to travel to Germany.

“India had requested Pakistan to allow Modi to use its airspace to travel to Germany on the 21st and return on 28th,” he said.

Qureshi added: “However, considering the situation in occupied Kashmir and India’s behaviour, including the violence and aggression and the denial of rights in Kashmir, we have decided not to give permission to the Indian prime minister.

“We have conveyed this decision to the Indian High Commissioner.”

Earlier this month, Pakistan had rejected India’s request to let President Ram Nath Kovind’s aeroplane to fly over the Pakistani airspace for a visit to Iceland based on the alarming human rights situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had approved of the decision to reject the request, FM Qureshi had said, citing Indian aggression in occupied Kashmir as the reason behind Pakistan’s decision.

“A terrible injustice is being carried out in occupied Kashmir and the Indian government has refused to budge from their hard line position on the issue,” the foreign minster had remarked.

The last time Modi was allowed to use the Pakistani airspace was in June, earlier this year, when the Indian PM had travelled to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Kyrgyzstan. Prior to that, a request by New Delhi to let the late Sushma Swaraj’s plane fly over Pakistan’s airspace had been approved.

Pakistan had closed its airspace in February, following deteriorating ties with India.