President Ram Nath Kovind denied permission to enter Pakistan airspace
Pakistan has refused to allow President Ram Nath Kovind into its airspace for his flight to Iceland, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Saturday. The decision was approved by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in light of fresh tensions between the feuding neighbors over the Jammu and Kashmir crisis, Qureshi told a state broadcaster PTV. Here are more details.
According to AFP, Qureshi said, "The Indian President had sought permission to use Pakistan's airspace to travel to Iceland but we decided not to permit him." He added, "The decision has been taken in view of India's behavior." He did not give further details. However, the decision comes after Pakistan's strong opposition of India's revocation of Jammu and Kashmir's special status.
Notably, the President was set to embark on his visit to Iceland, Switzerland, and Slovenia from Monday and was to brief the top leadership in the three nations about India's "national concerns", including incidents of terrorism such as the Pulwama attack in February.
To recall, after India abrogated Article 370 and bifurcated J&K into the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh, Pakistan suspended bilateral trade with India and downgraded diplomatic relations. While India maintained that J&K is an internal matter, Pakistan had sought the United Nations' intervention (which was rejected). Qureshi has said that Pakistan would take the issue with the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Incidentally, after the Balakot strikes that followed the Pulwama attack, Pakistan had closed its airspace on February 26. The Balakot strikes were conducted by the Indian Air Force to destroy Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist training camps in Balakot after a terror attack in Pulwama killed 40 CRPF personnel. Although Pakistan partially reopened its airspace in March, the ban on Indian flights remained.