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‘Old habit’: India stings Pak on refusal to let Modi’s flight use airspace

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s special flight will not overfly Pakistan on his way to the United States to attend the United Nations General Assembly later this week.Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday announced that Islamabad had declined to accept a request from the Indian side to seek permission to cross Pakistani air space.

“We have conveyed to the Indian High Commission that we will not allow use of our air space for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flight,” Shah Mahmood Qureshi said.

In a video released by his foreign ministry, Qureshi cited the situation in Kashmir to deny permission.


A senior government functionary explained that the permission was sought in the routine course.

“We regret the decision of the Government of Pakistan to deny overflight clearance for the VVIP special flight for a second time in two weeks, which is otherwise granted routinely by any normal country,” said MEA spokesperon Raveesh Kumar.

“Pakistan should reflect upon its decision to deviate from well established international practice, as well as reconsider its old habit of misrepresenting the reasons for taking unilateral action,” he added.

Unlike a scheduled flight, which has an earmarked route, a special flight requires permissions from all countries over which the aircraft might fly to reach its destination. To ensure that there are no last-minute problems, such permissions are taken in advance for more than one route. One of these many requests had gone to Pakistan also, a government functionary said.

Earlier this month, permission had been denied to President Ram Nath Kovind’s special flight to overfly Pakistan. That decision too was as publicised as this one, a move seen in context of Pakistan’s effort to step up the rhetoric and hurl threats of war to draw the international community’s attention to Jammu and Kashmir.

India, Pakistan ties have been tense since New Delhi announced the scrapping of Article 370, granting special status, in Jammu and Kashmir and also divided the state into two union territories. Islamabad has been since trying to rake up the issue at all international fora but with limited success.

India’s response to Islamabad denying permission to President Kovind’s flight to cross Pakistani airspace was regret. “We call upon Pakistan to recognise the futility of such unilateral actions,” a foreign ministry spokesperson had said.

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