New Delhi: For the second time in two months, Pakistan on Sunday rejected India’s request to allow Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s special flight to use its airspace for his upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia.
In a statement, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Pakistan had decided not to allow Prime Minister Modi to use the country’s airspace in view of the alleged violations of human rights in Jammu and Kashmir, Dawn reported. Qureshi, in his statement, also said that the Indian High Commission will be informed in a written form.
Modi is set to travel to Saudi Arabia on Monday to attend an international business forum and hold talks with top Saudi leadership, including Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
During PM Modi’s visit to Riyadh, India and Saudi Arabia will sign an agreement on establishing the India-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership Council. The council will be headed by Modi and the Saudi Crown Prince. The Prime Minister will also deliver the keynote address at the third edition of Saudi Arabia’s annual investment forum, the Future Investment Initiative.
In September, Pakistan rejected India’s request to allow PM Modi’s flight to use its airspace for his visit to the US to attend the UN General Assembly. In response, India had expressed “regret” over Islamabad’s decision and said it should “reconsider its old habit” of misrepresenting the reasons for taking unilateral action.
President Ram Nath Kovind’s flight was also denied the use of Pak airspace earlier the same month when he was travelling to Iceland.
On February 26, Pakistan had fully closed its airspace after the Indian Air Force fighter jets struck a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist training camp in Balakot in retaliation to the Pulwama attack on February 14. On July 16, Islamabad had opened its airspace for all civilian traffic.
In June, when PM Modi was to travel to Bikshek to attend the SCO summit, Pakistan had “specially” opened its airspace for his flight.
Tensions between both the countries 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.
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