India on Saturday said it regretted the decision by Pakistan government to deny President Ram Nath Kovind permission to use its airspace to travel to Iceland. "We regret the decision of Pakistan government to deny overflight clearance for a VVIP special flight which is otherwise granted routinely by any normal country. We call on Pakistan to recognise futility of such unilateral actions," Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.
Kovind will embark on a visit to Iceland, Switzerland and Slovenia from Monday during which he is expected to brief the top leadership in those countries on India's "national concerns", especially in view of terror incidents this year, including the Pulwama attack.
Raveesh Kumar, MEA in response to query regarding denial of overflight clearance for a VVIP special flight by Pakistan: We regret the decision of Govt of Pakistan to deny overflight clearance for the VVIP special flight which is otherwise granted routinely by any normal country. pic.twitter.com/Dlc5MaWhej— ANI (@ANI) September 7, 2019
The decision was approved by Prime Minister Imran Khan in view of the tense situation in Kashmir, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told state broadcaster PTV.
Khan’s government has been under pressure from the Opposition and some ministers to impose ban on India to use its airspace after India revoked special status of Kashmir.
Though, so far no decision has been taken to impose the blanket ban, Pakistan showed its intension by disallowing President Kovind to use its airspace.
Qureshi said New Delhi’s action in Kashmir was a serious issue which he would take up with the United Nations Human Rights Council.
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.