India regrets Pakistan's 'Futile' decision to deny overflight clearance to President's plane

An aerial view of the airplane hub at the airport in Karachi, Pakistan. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION New Delhi Sep 07, 2019, 09.29 PM (IST) Written By: Anas Mallick , Sidhant Sibal

India has regretted Pakistan's "futile" decision of not allowing President Ram Nath Kovind's plane to use the country's airspace.

The President will be in Europe from September 9 to 17 and will visit Iceland, Switzerland and Slovenia. 

Ministry of External Affairs in a statement said, "To deny overflight clearance for the VVIP special flight which is otherwise granted routinely by any normal country. We call upon Pakistan to recognise the futility of such unilateral actions."

Pakistan rejected the Indian government's request for President Ram Nath Kovind's plane to use Pakistani airspace during his upcoming visit to Europe on back of ongoing India-Pakistan tensions.

"Indian government had asked Pakistan to use its airspace for its president's movement. Given the current situation we have decided not to give permission to India for this airspace usage, " Pak FM SM Qureshi said.

Pakistani government sources say Prime Minister Imran Khan had himself endorsed this decision to decline usage of Pakistani airspace for Indian President’s movement.

Interestingly, Qureshi announced it even before notifying the Indian government. Before every VVIP visit outside India, New Delhi requests the neighbouring country over which the plane passes for use of airspace. 

Last month India had requested Islamabad to grant the use of airspace for Prime minister Narendra Modi's visit to France which the country allowed despite the ongoing India-Pakistan tensions. This led to considerable political fallout in the country since on one hand, Imran Khan government was castigating India on its August 5 internal decision to remove a special status for the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and on the other hand allowing the use of airspace by Indian VVIPs. Pakistan government after a cabinet meeting had then announced that it is considering closing its airspace for India but airspace remains open and no decision has been taken regarding this.

Pakistan had closed its airspace on February 27 after India's counter-terror operation in Balakot on February 26 on the back of February 14th Pulwama attack that killed more than 40 Indian security personnel. The closure that lasted for more than four months had caused considerable problem globally especially to Afghans who could easily travel to India.

Closure of Pakistan airspace had affected around 600 flights that operate per day across India-Pakistan airspace boundary and these flights were re-routed Arabian sea airspace.

Story highlights

Ministry of External Affairs in a statement said, 'To deny overflight clearance for the VVIP special flight which is otherwise granted routinely by any normal country'. Adding, 'We call upon Pakistan to recognise the futility of such unilateral actions.'