Pakistan denies use of airspace to President Kovind for Europe visit

No more concessions to India, says Pakistan Aviation Minister.

September 07, 2019 03:56 pm | Updated September 08, 2019 12:38 am IST - Lahore

Ram Nath Kovind

Ram Nath Kovind

Federal Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said on Saturday that Pakistan denied President Ram Nath Kovind the use of Pakistani airspace for his flight to Iceland this month because of India’s continued aggression against and oppression of the Kashmiri people. 

“We got India’s request for their President’s flight. It was discussed with all relevant quarters and decided that enough is enough, no more concessions for India,” he told The Hindu

Mr. Khan said that while Pakistan allowed Prime Minister Narendra Modi to use the Pakistani airspace for his visit to France in August as a goodwill gesture, India continued to flout international laws and the Modi government was least bothered about its “reprehensible” conduct in Kashmir. “Different options are under consideration at the moment regarding Pakistani airspace’s use for Indian flights. Apart from VVIP flights, we are considering not to allow Indian Airlines to use our airspace,” he said. Another option might be to disallow flights that originated from India and/or their final destination was India. 

Mr. Khan said Pakistan marked its Defence Day on September 6 as Kashmir Solidarity Day as it had been more than a month now that people in Kashmir did not have access to hospitals, there was food shortage, students could not go to schools or colleges. “How can we stay immune to all this,” he asked. Apart from public pressure, the Federal Cabinet and members of Parliament felt that India should not be given any more concession. “India attacked Pakistan after the Pulwama incident. We only responded, and successfully so. India closed its airspace after [the] Balakot [air strikes]. We responded. But we also opened the airspace again as a goodwill gesture. Unfortunately, India has taken our goodwill gestures as signs of weakness,” he said.


Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Pakistan would not allow the Indian President to use its airspace. 

In New Delhi, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said: “We regret the decision of the Pakistan government to deny overflight clearance for a VVIP special flight, which is otherwise granted routinely by any normal country. We call on Pakistan to recognise the futility of such unilateral actions.” 

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