Pakistan rejects India’s request to open airspace

Published: July 12, 2019
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After the restrictions, New Delhi has been diverting all of its passenger flights to alternative routes. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

After the restrictions, New Delhi has been diverting all of its passenger flights to alternative routes. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has turned down India’s request to lift the restriction on the use of its airspace with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) subjecting the use of its airspace to the removal of fighter planes from Indian airbases.

Aviation Secretary Shahrukh Nusrat, who is also the director general of the CAA, informed the Senate Standing Committee on Aviation that his department has intimated Indian officials that Pakistani airspace would remain unavailable for use by India until war jets are removed from Indian airbases.

The session, chaired by Senator Mushahidullah Khan, was informed that Pakistan had shut down its airspace after escalation of tensions between the two countries in February this year which remain intact to date.

After the restrictions, India has been diverting all of its passenger flights to alternative routes.

The CAA official also contested India’s claim that Delhi had opened its airspace for Pakistan. “Pakistani flights from Thailand have not been restored since the closure of the Indian airspace. Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flights for Malaysia also remain suspended,” the CAA DG informed the committee.

He further apprised the committee that Indian officials have contacted Pakistan requesting it to lift the airspace restriction. “However, Indian officials have been told that Indian airbases are still laden with fighter jets and Pakistan will not allow resumption of flight operations from India until their removal,” said Nusrat.

The CAA officials also briefed the committee regarding investigation into financial irregularities during the construction of Islamabad airport. The director of human resources of the CAA, Samar Rafiq, briefed the committee regarding two inquiries conducted in the matter.

She said a commission, headed by Justice Shamsul Malik, investigated the allegations, and added that the inquiry report submitted by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had not proved any financial irregularities. “However, the investigation agency has identified some technical glitches in the financial records.”
The standing committee expressed its dissatisfaction with the briefing provided by the CAA while observing that the authority had been providing conflicting statements.

The committee maintained that one of the earlier reports had established corruption while the other stated the opposite.
Federal Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan maintained that the investigation into the matter was incomplete while vowing to ensure that no one was given special treatment.

“We will bring all those involved to book,” he said, adding that he was personally holding an inquiry into the matter as he believed that the construction of the airport suffered from financial irregularities at the hands of CAA officials.

He requested the committee to give eight weeks to complete the inquiry, which the committee accepted.
During the session, PIA’s Chief Executive Officer Air Marshal Arshad Malik presented a briefing over the performance of the national carrier and observed that the institution was showing improvements.

The routes contributing to deficits have been shut along with the restoration of profitable routes and improvement in administrative activities has resulted in a marked decrease in the deficit faced by the PIA, he added.

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