Modi can’t use Pakistani airspace for Germany visit: Foreign Minister

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Pakistan won’t be allowing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to fly over Pakistani airspace to go to Germany, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi confirmed on Wednesday.

In a video message, Qureshi said India sent a request [to Pakistan] stating that the country’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, wishes to fly to Germany and wanted  permission to fly over Pakistani airspace on September 20 and then back again on September 28 while returning.

But Pakistan, keeping the human rights violations in Kashmir and India’s attitude over Kashmir in mind, has turned down India’s request.

The Indian request was in line with diplomatic norms which prohibit denial of airspace to foreign heads of state travelling on state visits. As per international law, India has the right to appeal to the International Civil Aviation Organisation which would require Pakistan to pay a hefty fine.

After his brief visit to Germany, the Indian premier is scheduled to address the upcoming United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session on September 27, the same day Prime Minister Imran Khan would deliver his speech in New York.

Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said New Delhi regretted Pakistan’s decision, adding that it was the second time in two weeks that such a request for a “VVIP” overflight had been denied, Reuters reported.

“Pakistan should reflect upon its decision to deviate from well-established international practice, as well as reconsider its old habit of misrepresenting the reasons for taking unilateral action,” the news agency quoted Kumar as saying.

Earlier this month, Pakistan declined Indian President Ram Nath Kovind’s request to use its airspace too. Qureshi had said permission was not granted in view of India’s behaviour. President Kovind planned to go to Iceland on September 8 and an easy route to use would be through Pakistani airspace.

In June, India Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked for permission to use Pakistan’s airspace and permission was granted; however, Modi later refused to use Pakistani airspace.