India on Tuesday dismissed as “false and motivated” reports in the Pakistani media that it denied Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad the right to fly over India to go to Pakistan during his recent visit to the neighbouring country.
The Malaysian leader was the chief guest at the Pakistan National Day event on 23 March.
Government sources in New Delhi said the truth was that Pakistan has blocked its own airspace for flights from India. Even though the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in India had given overflight clearance to the Malaysian PM’s flight, it had to take a longer route because Pakistan denied permission, sources added.
They said it was strange that even for its own National Day guest, Pakistan could not make an exception, thereby resulting in a longer flight for the Malaysian leader.
Sources pointed out that all flights, including international flights, flying westward from/over Pakistan were not being allowed to fly over India by Pakistan even though India has not put any restriction.
The Pakistani airspace remains partially closed since 27 February after its Air Force violated the Indian airspace to target Indian military installations. The Pakistan civil aviation authority has since then denied permission to planes coming from India to enter Pakistani airspace.
The Pakistan media claimed India withdrew the permission at the last minute, forcing the Malaysian PM to take a much longer route over the Arabian Sea and cruise as far as Oman before reaching Islamabad. There was also speculation in the Pakistani media that India denied permission in view of Mohamad’s perceived “preference” of Pakistan over India.