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Won't let Indian President use our airspace: Pakistan

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

WION Islamabad, Pakistan Sep 07, 2019, 04.22 PM (IST) Written By: Anas Mallick , Sidhant Sibal

Pakistan has rejected the Indian government's request for President Ram Nath Kovind's plane to use its airspace during his upcoming visit to Europe on the back of ongoing India-Pakistan tensions. The President will be in Europe from 9th to 17th and will visit Iceland, Switzerland and Slovenia. 

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

Also read-- Pakistan: Karachi airspace shuts three routes till August 31

Pakistan government sources said Prime Minister Imran Khan had himself endorsed this decision to decline usage of Pakistani airspace for the 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. 

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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.

It led to considerable political fallout in the country since on one hand, the Imran Khan government was castigating India on its August, 5 internal decision to remove the special status for the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and on the other hand allowing the use of airspace by Indian VVIPs.

The Pakistan government after a cabinet meeting had then announced that it is considering closing its airspace for India but the airspace remained open and no decision was taken.

Pakistan had closed its airspace on February 27 after India's counter-terror operation in Balakot on February 26 on the back of the Pulwama attack on February 14 that killed more than 40 Indian security personnel.

The closure lasted for more than four months and caused considerable problems globally especially to Afghans who could easily travel to India.

The closure of Pakistan airspace had affected around 600 flights that operate everyday across the India-Pakistan airspace boundary with the flights re-routed to the Arabian sea airspace.