NEW DELHI: India expressed regret at Pakistan's decision to deny permission for the use of its airspace by President Ram Nath Kovind's plane on Saturday, calling it a “futile” unilateral action.
"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. We call upon Pakistan to recognize the futility of such unilateral actions," said Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.
Pakistan Saturday denied permission for the use of its airspace by President Kovind's plane, who's scheduled to embark on a three-nation tour of Iceland, Switzerland and Slovenia from Monday.
Unable to muster any support from the world community over the Kashmir issue, Pakistan has resorted to amateurish tactics like denying permission to President Kovind's plane to make use of its airspace. This was announced by Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. "Given the current situation we have decided not to give the permission to India for this airspace usage," he announced, even before the official communication to India.
Pakistani government sources say Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan had himself endorsed this decision to decline use of Pakistani airspace for Indian President's movement.
Pakistan had previously shut its airspace after India's strikes against terror hideouts in Balakot. Spooked by the determination and ferocity of the Indian Air Force, Pakistan had even threatened India to pull back its fighter jets from forward bases or face a shut Pakistani airspace. India had not relented, prompting Pakistan to eventually open its airspace. The decision could have also been necessitated by the fact that Pakistan suffered losses worth $50 million over the 140 days it had kept its airspace shut.
Last month, in August, Imran said he is considering shutting the airspace once again. This could result in another string of financial loses that Pakistan's crumbling economy could ill-afford.