ISLAMABAD: Islamabad has turned down New Delhi’s request to allow Prime Minister Narendra Modi use Pakistan’s airspace for his flight to Germany, in yet another sign of deepening tensions between the two neighbours.
“The decision has been taken in view of the current attitude and atrocities being committed by Modi government in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK),” said Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in a video message on Wednesday.
Qureshi said New Delhi requested Islamabad to allow Modi’s plane use Pakistani airspace on September 20 for a visit to Germany and again on September 28 on his way back to India after attending the UN General Assembly (UNGA) session in New York.
“[However,] in view of the prevailing situation in the IOK and India’s ‘behaviour’ and brutalities and rights violations there, we have decided that we will not give permission to the Indian prime minister… and we have conveyed our decision to the Indian high commission,” Qureshi added.
After his brief visit to Germany, Modi is scheduled to address the upcoming UNGA session on September 27. Prime Minister Imran Khan would deliver his speech in New York on the same day.
Pakistan closed its airspace to Indian traffic after aerial dogfights in February this year ratcheted up tensions between the two nuclear armed rivals. It reopened its skies for all civilian traffic in July, ending months of restrictions affecting major international routes.
However, earlier this month Indian President Ram Nath Kovind was denied permission to fly through Pakistani airspace due to New Delhi’s recent ‘behaviour’.
Tensions have flared up between the two neighbours since August 5 when India revoked the special status of disputed territory. For over forty days, the IOK has been under curfew and complete lockdown with people having little or no access to the outside world.
Pakistan has mounted a diplomatic offensive against India, calling its decision illegal and unilateral. Prime Minister Imran Khan has particularly targeted Modi, equating him with dictator Adolf Hitler.
On Tuesday, India upped the ante when its Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar claimed that India would ‘one day extend its physical jurisdiction’ to make Azad Jammu and Kashmir a part of India.
The statement drew strong reaction from Pakistan, which called Jaishankar’s remarks ‘inflammatory and irresponsible.’ The foreign office statement noted that India is trying to divert the attention from the current unrest in Occupied Kashmir. It also urged the international community to take note of India’s aggressive posturing, saying such an approach would undermine the peace of entire region.
Imran Khan and Narendra Modi are going to clash at the upcoming UNGA session over Kashmir. Imran has said he would use his address to expose Indian atrocities and its true face before the world.
Both Imran and Modi are scheduled to hold separate meetings with US President Donald Trump, who recently claimed that the situation between the two countries were not better.