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Pakistan refuses Indias request to open airspace for PM Modi citing situation in Kashmir


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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Wednesday rejected India's request to allow Prime Minister Narendra Modi's VVIP flight to use its airspace for his upcoming visit to the US via Germany, citing "the current situation in Kashmir".

"India had requested Pakistan to allow Modi to use its airspace to travel to Germany on the 21st (Sept) and return on 28th (Sept)," Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said.

Announcing the decision via a video statement, Qureshi said the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad had been informed of Pakistan's decision to not allow prime minister's Modi's special Air India One aircraft to fly over the country.

"In the light of the current situation in Kashmir, India's attitude and atrocities there, we have decided to not allow our airspace for the flight of the Indian prime minister," he said.

Prime Minister Modi is travelling to the US on September 21 to attend the 'Howdy Modi' diaspora event on September 22 along with US President Donald Trump.

He will also address the UN General Assembly in New York on September 27.

On September 7, Pakistan refused India's request to allow President Ram Nath Kovind to use its airspace for his flight to Iceland.

Imran Khan-led government has been under pressure from the Opposition and some ministers to impose ban on India to use its airspace after India revoked special status of Kashmir on August 5.

Tensions between India and Pakistan spiked after India abrogated provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution to withdraw Jammu and Kashmir's special status and bifurcated it into two union territories, evoking strong reaction from Pakistan.

India has categorically told the international community that the scrapping of Article 370 was an internal matter and also advised Pakistan to accept the reality.

In June, Pakistan "specially" opened its airspace for the flight of Prime Minister Modi to Bishkek to attend the SCO summit.

However, India decided not to use the Pakistani airspace for the VVIP aircraft. Pakistan fully closed its airspace in February after an Indian Air Force strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camp in Balakot.

The country opened its airspace for all flights except for New Delhi, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur on March 27.

On May 15, Pakistan extended its airspace ban for flights to India till May 30. It fully opened its airspace for all civilian traffic on July 16. 

(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)