The International Civil Aviation Organisation, the United Nations global watchdog, has reacted to India’s complaint against Pakistan over alleged violation of airspace rule and it is not exactly what New Delhi was looking for. According to Press Trust of India, ICAO has simply stated that it cannot look into the matter as the aircraft involved in the incident does not fall under its provision. Simply stated, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Air India One is considered by the ICAO as the state aircraft. Whereas the rules stipulate that cooperation over airspace is mandatory for civil aircraft. However, New Delhi’s battle is not completely lost. A Times of India report said that the ICAO has not only ‘acknowledged’ India’s complaint but also sought information from Pakistan.
"The Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention), which ICAO helps governments to cooperate under, only applies to the operations of civilian aircraft and not to state or military aircraft," the ICAO spokesperson said. "Flights carrying national leaders are considered state aircraft, and are therefore not subject to ICAO provisions," the spokesperson was quoted as saying by PTI.
Angry over Pakistan’s denial of its airspace to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flight to Saudi Arabia, India took up its neighbour to global aviation watchdog ICAO on Monday. India said that by continuously denying its airspace, Pakistan is violating the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s accepted global practices. Overflight clearances are sought and granted by other countries as prescribed by the ICAO guidelines. On Sunday, Pakistan had denied India's request to allow Prime Minister Narendra Modi's VVIP flight to use its airspace for his upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia, citing the alleged human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir.
In a statement, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Pakistan has decided not to allow Prime Minister Modi to use the country's airspace, state-run Radio Pakistan reported. He said the decision has been taken in context of the "black day" and in view of the alleged human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir, it added.
Pakistan was observing black day on Sunday in support of Kashmiris. Qureshi said the Indian High Commissioner is being informed of this decision in written form.
Modi will travel to Saudi Arabia on Monday where he will attend an international business forum and hold talks with top Saudi leadership. In September, Pakistan rejected India's request to allow Prime Minister Modi's flight to use its airspace for his visit to the US to attend the UN General Assembly.
Pakistan also refused India's request to allow President Ram Nath Kovind to use its airspace for his flight to Iceland in the same month.
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.
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.
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.
(With PTI inputs)