Pak won't allow Kovind to use airspace; India hits back
New Delhi: India on Saturday criticised Pakistan for denying permission to President Ram Nath Kovind's aircraft fly over it during an official trip to Iceland, and asked Islamabad to recognise the "futility" of such unilateral actions.
India's reaction came hours after Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that Pakistan had refused India's request to allow Kovind to use its airspace for his flight to Iceland.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said 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," he said in response to a question on the issue.
"We call upon Pakistan to recognise the futility of such unilateral actions," he said.
Kovind will embark on a visit to Iceland, Switzerland and Slovenia from Monday. His flight will have to take a long detour due to denial of overflight by Pakistan.
Pakistan's decision to deny its airspace to Kovind's aircraft came amid rising tension between the two countries over the Kashmir issue.
Pakistan has been severely critical of India's decision to withdraw the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
Qureshi was quoted as saying by Pakistan's state-broadcaster PTV that Prime Minister Imran Khan approved the decision to deny Pakistan airspace by Kovind because of the tense situation in Kashmir.
Pakistan had fully closed its airspace in February after an Indian Air Force strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camp in Balakot. The country opened its airspace for all flights except for New Delhi, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur on March 27. The country fully opened its airspace for all civilian traffic on July 16. WITH PTI inputs
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