Pakistan denies airspace to Modi


India has taken up the issue of Pakistan's denial of use of its airspace to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's flight with the International Civil Aviation Organisation, official sources said on Monday. Modi is travelling to Saudi Arabia later today on a bilateral visit and New Delhi had sought overflight permission from Islamabad for his aircraft to overfly Pakistan on way to Saudi Arabia.

The sources said India regrets Pakistan's decision to yet again deny overflight clearance for the VVIP special flight which is otherwise granted routinely by any normal country. India has taken up the issue of denial of overflight refusal with the relevant international civil aviation body, they said.

"Overflight clearances are sought and granted by other countries as per prescribed ICAO guidelines," said a source adding India would continue to seek such overflight approval. Citing alleged human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Quresh on Sunday announced rejection of India's request to allow Modi's aircraft to fly over Pakistani airspace for his flight to Saudi Arabia.

Qureshi had said the decision has been taken in context of the "black day" and in view of the alleged human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir, it added. The plane carrying Modi will now take a longer route to reach Riyadh. In the past, Pakistan had refused to planes carrying Indian President Ram Nath Kovind on his way to Iceland and then Modi.

Pakistan has closed its airspace to overflying by all Indian aircraft since February 27 following Indian war planes assault on a camp of terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed in Balakote, Pakistan. The JeM was responsible for the suicide attack on a convoy of Indian paramilitary personnel in Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir, on February 12 in which 40 people were killed, sending bilateral ties to a new low.