By Our Correspondent – September 18, 2019
ISLAMABAD: Islamabad has rejected New Delhi’s request to use Pakistani airspace for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to Germany due to its ‘attitude’ and atrocities it’s committing in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
In a video message issued on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the decision was taken considering the prevailing tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours that have flared up ever since New Delhi revoked IOK’s autonomous status and snapped communications for much of the Muslim-majority region on August 5.
“Keeping in view the prevailing situation in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and India’s ‘behaviour’ and brutalities and rights violations there, we have decided that we will not give permission to the Indian prime minister… and we have conveyed our decision to the Indian high commission,” Qureshi can be heard saying in the video.
The authorities in New Delhi had reached out to their counterparts in Islamabad, seeking permission for the Indian premier to fly through its airspace on September 20 and again on September 28 on his way back to India.
After his brief visit to Germany, the Indian premier is scheduled to address the upcoming United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session on September 27, the same day Prime Minister Imran Khan would deliver his speech in New York.
Pakistan closed its airspace to Indian traffic after aerial dogfights in February ratcheted up tensions between Islamabad and New Delhi. It reopened its skies for all civilian traffic in July, ending months of restrictions affecting major international routes.
However, Indian President Ram Nath Kovind was denied permission to fly through Pakistani airspace due to New Delhi’s recent “behaviour” earlier this month.
The Indo-Pak tensions deepened on Tuesday with Islamabad brushing off Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar’s statement claiming New Delhi would “one day extend its physical jurisdiction” to make Azad Jammu and Kashmir a part of India.
“We strongly condemn and reject the inflammatory and irresponsible remarks made by the Indian external affairs minister regarding Pakistan and AJK,” said a statement issued by the Foreign Office. “These remarks are an obvious manifestation of India’s utter frustration over the continued international censure of its egregious human rights violations in occupied Jammu and Kashmir.”
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump has said that he will meet the two leaders in the next few days (on the sidelines of UNGA) and claimed that “progress is being made” in diffusing escalating tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.