India on Saturday expressed regret at Pakistan’s decision to deny the use of its airspace to President Ram Nath Kovind, who will embark on an official visit to Iceland, Switzerland and Slovenia on Monday.

“We regret the decision of the government of Pakistan to deny overflight clearance for the VVIP special flight which is otherwise granted routinely by any normal country,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, according to PTI. “We call upon Pakistan to recognise the futility of such unilateral actions.”

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had on Saturday said that Islamabad would deny permission for Kovind’s aircraft to fly over its airspace. 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.

In February, Pakistan had completely closed its airspace after the Indian Air Force strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed camp in Balakot. It later opened its airspace for all flights excepting for New Delhi, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur in March.

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