Pakistan has rejected Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s request to use the country’s airspace to travel to Saudi Arabia, Geo News reported on Sunday. In a statement, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the decision was taken to show solidarity with the day-long demonstrations being held across the country in protest against India’s moves in Jammu and Kashmir.
Qureshi said Islamabad would inform the Indian high commissioner about its decision in writing, The Express Tribune reported.
Modi is scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia for two days this week, and sign more than a dozen agreements on energy, defence procurement and civil aviation, according to Mint. The prime minister will arrive in Riyadh on October 28, and will meet Saudi King Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud the following day. He will also address the Future Investment Initiative Forum organised by Saudi Arabia’s Sovereign Wealth Fund. The visit comes at a time when India is looking to counter Pakistan’s narrative on the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status.
This is the third time in the last two months that Pakistan has refused permission to the Indian prime minister’s plane to use its airspace. In September, Islamabad had cited the security clampdown in Jammu and Kashmir to twice reject India’s request. The second request was lodged before Modi’s journey to the United States for a United Nations General Assembly summit.
On September 7, Islamabad had refused to allow President Ram Nath Kovind to use its airspace during his visit to Iceland. India had then expressed regret over Pakistan’s decision, and asked the country to “recognise the futility of such unilateral actions.”
According to international law, Pakistan is bound to give permission to Modi’s flight, and if it is rejected New Delhi can appeal to the International Civil Aviation Organisation. This can lead to Islamabad paying a heavy fine.
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