New Delhi/Islamabad: India has expressed its regret on the decision of Pakistan to decline New Delhi's request to allow the plane of PM Narendra Modi to use Pakistani airspace for the upcoming US visit. New Delhi had formally requested Islamabad last week to give permission for PM Modi's plane to use Pakistani airspace.
Strongly reacting to Islamabad's decision, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar, said that Pakistan should reflect upon its decision to deviate from well established international practice and reconsider its old habit of misrepresenting the reasons for taking unilateral action.
The MEA highlighted that it is for the second time in two weeks Islamabad has said no to overflight for an Indian VVIP "which is otherwise granted routinely by any normal country". Earlier in September, India had requested Islamabad to allow President Ram Nath Kovind's plane to use the Pakistani airspace during his Europe visit which was declined. All VVIP visits require, as part of the protocol, to inform foreign countries of the use of airspace.
Kumar, said, "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. Pakistan should reflect upon its decision to deviate from well established international practice, as well as reconsider its old habit of misrepresenting the reasons for taking unilateral action."
Denying the overflight clearance to PM Modi's plane, Pakistani Foreign Minister SM Qureshi said, "India had requested for PM Narendra Modi's plane to use Pakistani airspace..but looking at Indian action in Kashmir we have decided not to give permission and we have conveyed this too to Indian high commission"
The rejection will be considered a violation of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) charter. Under the charter, unless its war, denying the use of airspace by singling out cannot be done by any country. New Delhi can take Pakistan to ICAO where the country can be slapped with a heavy fine.
Many will see it as a diplomatic masterstroke by New Delhi putting Pakistan between the devil and the deep sea. A 'no' by Pakistan means that the country could be slapped by a fine and international embarrassment for violating global aviation rules if India takes it to ICAO. A 'yes' would have put Imran Khan government on backfoot domestically even as it raises the rhetoric against India in the aftermath of August 5 decision to remove the special status for Jammu and Kashmir.
PM Modi will be in the US from September 21-27 for big-ticket events like diaspora event in Houston and address to United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
In August, India had requested Islamabad to grant the use of airspace for PM Modi's visit to France which the country allowed despite the ongoing India-Pakistan tensions. This led to considerable political fallout in the country since on one hand, Imran Khan government was castigating India on its internal decision to abrogate Article 370 from the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and on the other hand allowing the use of airspace by the Indian VVIPs.