Pakistan Stops Indian President from Using its Airspace

  • India's President Ram Nath Kovind is going to Iceland from Delhi on September 8.
  • Pakistan's Federal Minister for Aviation, Ghulam Sarwar Khan, said that "we are considering closing Pakistani airspace for Indian Airlines."
  • Pakistan had opened its airspace for 72 hours, to allow Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to attend a summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, but Modi did not accept.

Pakistan today refused to allow Indian President Ram Nath Kovind to use its airspace. Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Aviation, Ghulam Sarwar Khan, made the announcement on Saturday. The Indian Foreign Ministry asked for permission from Pakistan in connection with Kovind’s trip to Europe.

Kovind is going to Iceland from Delhi on September 8. His plane was to fly through Pakistani airspace for this trip, and India requested permission from Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry.

Ram Nath Kovind is an Indian politician currently serving as the 14th and current President of India. A former member of the BJP, Kovind had previously served as Governor of Bihar, from 2015-17.

Talking to media representatives in Peshawar, Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Aviation said that the Indian President will not be able to use Pakistan’s airspace to travel to Iceland nor to return from Iceland. Khan has warned that every flight to and from India will be banned from using Pakistani airspace.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, said in his statement, “the Indian president had sought permission to use Pakistan’s airspace to travel to Iceland but we decided not to permit him. The decision has been taken in view of India’s behavior.” Qureshi added, “they are not providing basic facilities to Kashmir  people, and we will not allow the Indian president to use our airspace.” Khan also said that “we are considering closing Pakistani airspace for Indian Airlines.”

A federal government official, who is aware of these matters, said on condition of anonymity that the government wants to give the diplomatic strategy a chance, but in the event of failure, it is possible Pakistani airspace will be closed for Indian Airlines.

It should be noted that before the recent tension in India-administered Kashmir, Pakistan had opened its airspace for 72 hours, to allow Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to attend a summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Modi did not accept this offer despite a prior request from the Indian government.

Kashmir is the northernmost geographical region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term “Kashmir” denoted only the Kashmir Valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal Range. Today, it denotes a larger area that includes the Indian-administered territory of Jammu and Kashmir (which includes the divisions Jammu, Kashmir Valley, and Ladakh), the Pakistani-administered territories of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, and Chinese-administered territories of Aksai Chin and the Trans-Karakoram Tract.

At a press briefing on August 7, a spokesman for Pakistan’s Foreign Office said that no decision had been made regarding the closure of Pakistan’s airspace for Indian Airlines. Foreign Office spokesman, Dr. Mohammad Faisal, said the highest level of consideration had been given in this regard and was “one of several options under consideration.”

Pakistan reopened its airspace for all commercial flights in July after a four-and-a-half-month closure. During these months, Pakistan’s airspace was completely closed, but was later partially opened. Pakistan’s move affected a large number of global flights. The tension between Islamabad and New Delhi was similar to that in the spring of this year, shortly after the deadly bombing in Pulwama, India-administered Jammu, and Kashmir, but it only escalated further.

On August 5, when Prime Minister Modi’s government announced the abolition of the special constitutional status of India-administered Jammu and Kashmir, it also said that the territory would be divided into two more parts (Ladakh and Jammu. Kashmir), and into Union Territories of India.

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Joyce Davis

My history goes back to 2002 and I  worked as a reporter, interviewer, news editor, copy editor, managing editor, newsletter founder, almanac profiler, and news radio broadcaster.


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