Millennium Post

Will close 'air space and land routes' for India: Pak Minister

Islamabad: Pakistan is once again mulling a complete ban on the use of the country's airspace by Indian flights, a senior minister said on Tuesday, weeks after the Indian government revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status.

Minister of Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said the decisions to close the airspace with India and to ban the use of Pakistan's land routes for India's trade with Afghanistan were taken at a Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

"Prime Minister is considering a complete closure of airspace to India, a complete ban on use of Pakistan land routes for Indian trade to Afghanistan was also suggested in Cabinet meeting, legal formalities for these decisions are under consideration... Modi has started, we'll finish!" he tweeted.

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.

On May 15, Pakistan extended its airspace ban for flights to India till May 30. It fully opened its airspace for all civilian traffic on July 16.

Pakistan has already suspended its trade with India and stopped the train and bus services in protest to India's August 5 decision to end Jammu and Kashmir's special status.

Tensions between India and Pakistan spiked after India abrogated provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution to withdraw Jammu and Kashmir's special status and bifurcated it into two Union Territories, evoking strong reactions from Pakistan.

India has categorically told the international community that the scrapping of Article 370 was an internal matter and also advised Pakistan to accept the reality.

Separately, Special Assistant to Pakistan Prime Minister on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan told the media that the Kashmir issue was also discussed at the Cabinet meeting.

She said that the Cabinet endorsed Prime Minister Khan's view to fight the Kashmir case in the United Nations and every other world forum.

After Pakistan failed to drum up international support for its belligerent stand on Kashmir, Khan said on Monday that he will raise the issue at every international forum, including at the UN General Assembly.

Khan's address to the nation came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his meeting with US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G7 Summit in France on Monday, categorically rejected any scope for third party mediation between India and Pakistan on Kashmir.

During Modi's bilateral meeting with US President Trump, the Prime Minister categorically rejected any scope for third party mediation between India and Pakistan on Kashmir, saying the two countries can discuss and resolve all issues bilaterally and "we don't want to trouble any third country."

On his part, Trump said he and Modi spoke about Kashmir "at great length" on Sunday night and he feels that both India and Pakistan can resolve it on their own.

"We spoke last night about Kashmir, the Prime Minister really feels he has it (situation) under control. They speak with Pakistan and I'm sure that

they will be able to do something that will be very good," Trump said.

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