New Delhi: Criticising Pakistan over its decision to deny permission to President Kovind’s aircraft fly over its airspace, India asked Islamabad to recognise the ‘futility’ of such unilateral actions. Earlier on Saturday, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had announced that the neighbouring country has turned down India’s request to allow Kovind to use its airspace for his flight to Iceland.
Responding to a question on the issue, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar asserted that India regretted Pakistan’s decision to deny overflight clearance for the VVIP special flight. “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 recognise the futility of such unilateral actions,” he said.
As per Pakistan’s state-broadcaster, PTV, Qureshi had stated that the decision to deny Pakistan airspace by Kovind was approved by Prime Minister Imran Khan in view of the tense situation in Kashmir.
Notably, Kovind will embark on a visit to Iceland, Switzerland, and Slovenia from Monday. His flight will have to take a long detour due to the denial of overflight by Pakistan. The Indian President will brief the top leaders of those countries on India’s “national concerns” during his visits, especially in view of terror incidents this year, including the Pulwama attack.
Earlier in February, Pakistan had fully closed its airspace for commercial airliners as tensions between the two countries had worsened after India’s military planes had decimated the biggest terror hideouts of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) training camp in Balakot to avenge the death of 40 CRPF personnel in Pulwama. On March 27, the country opened its airspace for all flights except for New Delhi, Bangkok, and Kuala Lumpur.