India regrets Pak's decision to not allow air space for President's flight

Deccan Chronicle.

World, Neighbours

President Kovind is scheduled to embark on an official nine-day visit to Iceland, Switzerland, and Slovenia from Sep 9.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that the decision was approved by Prime Minister Imran Khan in response to India's decision to revoke special status of Jammu and Kashmir, reported Dawn news. (Photo: File)

New Delhi: India, on Saturday, regretted the decision by Pakistan to deny President Ram Nath Kovind permission to use its airspace to travel to Iceland on an official visit.

India said, “We call upon Pakistan to recognize the futility of such unilateral actions.”

In response to Islamabad’s closure of airspace for Kovind’s special flight, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, “We regret the decision of the Government of Pakistan to deny overflight clearance for the VVIP special flight which is otherwise granted routinely by any normal country."

President Kovind is scheduled to travel to Iceland, Switzerland and Slovenia on an official nine-day visit from Monday during which he is expected to meet the top leadership in those countries and discuss India’s “national concerns”, especially in view of terror incidents this year, including the Pulwama attack, The Indian Express reported.

The decision to close its airspace was approved by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in view of the tense situation in Kashmir, the country’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told state broadcaster PTV Saturday.

Pakistan had earlier threatened to close its airspace for flights taking off from India in protest against the removal of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status enjoyed under Article 370.

Islamabad had also downgraded diplomatic ties with India and sent High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria back to India.

Earlier this year, Pakistan had fully closed its airspace on February 26 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.

Almost after five months, Pakistan opened its airspace for all civilian traffic on July 16.