Pakistan has refused to allow Indian President Ram Nath Kovind to use its airspace during his upcoming visit to Iceland, the country’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Saturday, Dawn reported. Kovind is scheduled to begin a tour of Iceland, Switzerland and Slovenia from Monday.
Qureshi said Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had approved this decision because of India’s moves in Jammu and Kashmir. India and Pakistan have engaged in a war of words since New Delhi decided to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5. Islamabad retaliated by suspending bilateral trade and downgrading ties with New Delhi. It raised the matter at the United Nations Security Council, and threatened take it to the UN Human Rights Council and the International Court of Justice as well.
Islamabad has repeatedly hit out at the Narendra Modi-led administration for imposing a security lockdown in the state. Imran Khan has, on multiple occasions, suggested that the escalating tensions could lead to war, and on one occasion said there was no point talking to India though he has also advocated for normalising relations with India and called for dialogue.
Qureshi described India’s actions in Jammu and Kashmir as “barbarism” and reiterated that Pakistan would take it up in the UN Human Rights Council. He claimed that Pakistan had shown restraint but India was stubborn. “In view of this, we have decided to not allow the Indian president to use our airspace,” he added.
In February, Pakistan had completely closed its airspace after the Indian Air Force strike on an alleged Jaish-e-Mohammed militant camp in Balakot. It later opened its airspace for all flights excepting for New Delhi, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur in March.
Last month, some Pakistani ministers had claimed that Islamabad would completely close its airspace to India, but Qureshi later rejected them as merely rumours.
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