Pakistan on Sunday once again denied India's request to allow Prime Minister Narendra Modi flight to fly over Pakistan's airspace for his upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia. Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said in a statement that Pakistan will not allow PM Modi to use the country's airspace, reported Radio Pakistan. Qureshi added that Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad has been informed about this decision in written form.
It is to be noted that PM Modi is scheduled to travel to Saudi Arabia on Monday to attend an international business forum and hold talks with senior leaders of the oil-rich Muslim nation. It may be recalled that in September 2109, Pakistan had refused to allow Prime Minister Modi's flight to use its airspace for his visit to attend the UN General Assembly in United States of America. Pakistan also rejected India's request to allow President Ram Nath Kovind to use its airspace for his flight to Iceland in September.
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had strongly objected to Islamabad's decision, saying 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.
"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," Kumar had said.
Pakistan decided to fully close its airspace in February after Indian Air Force launched airstrikes on a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camp in Balakot. On May 15, Pakistan decided to extend its airspace ban for flights to India till May 30. Islamabad, however, decided to fully open its airspace for all civilian traffic on July 16.
Tensions between India and Pakistan touched a new high after PM Modi-led government at the Centre abrogated Article 370, which granted special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, on August 5.