Prime Minister Narendra Modi (File Photo)
New Delhi :
India regreted Pakistan's decision to deny overflight clearance for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's special flight to the United States via germany, the External Affairs Ministry (MEA) said on Wednesday, adding that Islamabad should reflect on its decision to deviate from global practice and reconsider habit of misrepresenting reasons for unilateral action. The MEA's statement comes barely hours after Pakistan refused to open its airspace for PM Modi's upcoming visit, citing "the current situation in Kashmir".
"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," Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said on response to a query on the recent denial by Pakistan.
Announcing Pakistan's decision via a video statement, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood 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," Qureshi said.
Prime Minister Modi will be 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.
This is the second time in two weeks that Pakistan has denied India's request to open its airspace for VVIP special flights. On September 7, it refused 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 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.