Pakistan has declined India's request to allow PM Modi's plane to pass via Pakistani airspace for the upcoming US visit. New Delhi had formally requested Islamabad to give permission for PM Modi's plane to use Pakistani airspace last week.
The rejection will be considered a violation of the International Civil Aviation Organization charter(ICAO). Under the charter, unless its war, denying the use of airspace by singling out one country cannot be done by any country. New Delhi can take Pakistan to ICAO where the country can be slapped with a heavy fine.
Many will see it as a diplomatic masterstroke by New Delhi putting Pakistan between the devil and the deep sea. A "no" by Pakistan means the country could be slapped by a fine and international embarrassment for violating global aviation rules, a yes would put Imran Khan's government on the backfoot domestically even as it raises the rhetoric against India in the aftermath of August 5 decision to remove special status for the ertwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
PM Modi will be in the United States from September 21 to 27 for big-ticket events like the diaspora event in Houston and the address at the United Nations General Assembly(UNGA).
Earlier this month, India had requested Islamabad to allow President Ram Nath Kovind's plane to use the Pakistani airspace during his Europe visit but it was rejected.
Rejecting the Indian request, Pak FM SM Qureshi had said: "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."
India has regretted Pakistan's "futile" decision of not allowing President Ram Nath Kovind's plane to use the country's airspace.
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."
Last month India had requested Islamabad to grant the use of airspace for Prime minister Narendra Modi's visit to France which the country had allowed despite the ongoing India-Pakistan tensions.
This led to considerable political fallout in the country since on the one hand, the Imran Khan government was castigating India on its August 5 internal decision to remove 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 the airspace remains open and no decision has been taken regarding it.
Pakistan had closed its airspace on February 27 after India's counter-terror operation in Balakot on February 26 on the back of February 14 Pulwama attack in which over 40 Indian security personnel were killed.
The closure of the Pakistani airspace lasted for more than four months had caused considerable problem globally especially to Afghans who could easily travel to India.
India had earlier requested Islamabad to allow President Ram Nath Kovind's plane to use the Pakistani airspace during his Europe visit but it was rejected.