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Amid tensions on Kashmir, Pak denies President Kovind permission to use its airspace to fly to Iceland: Report

According to Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the decision to deny President Kovind permission to use the country’s airspace was approved by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

SNS | New Delhi |

Pakistan has denied President Ram Nath Kovind the permission to use its airspace to travel to Iceland, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi reportedly said on Saturday.

Pakistan has refused a request by the Indian Government to allow President Kovind to use its airspace amid heightened tensions between the two countries over the abrogation of Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

According to news agency AFP, Qureshi attributed the reason for its decision to India’s “recent behaviour” on bilateral issues.

President Ram Nath Kovind will embark on an 11-day visit to Iceland, Switzerland and Slovenia on September 9 to seek cooperation in areas, like the blue economy, science and technology, tourism and climate.

According to Qureshi, the decision to deny President Kovind permission to use the country’s airspace was approved by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in view of the Kashmir situation.

The development comes just over a week after Qureshi had said that Islamabad has not yet decided to close its airspace to India, underlining that any such step would be taken after looking into each and every aspect of the move through consultation.

He had said that the final decision on the matter would be taken by PM Imran Khan.

Earlier, Pakistan’s Science and Technology Minister Fawad Khan had said that the country was considering closing its airspace for traffic from India.

“PM is considering a complete closure of airspace to India, a complete ban on use of Pakistan land routes for Indian trade to Afghanistan was also suggested in cabinet meeting, legal formalities for these decisions are under consideration… Modi has started, we’ll finish!” Khan had tweeted.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had used the Pakistani airspace to travel to France for a bilateral meet in August, the first after the Balakot airstrikes carried out by the Indian Air Force (IAF).

Pakistan had opened its airspace for all civilian traffic on July 16 removing the ban on Indian flights that were not allowed to use a majority of its airspace since the Balakot airstrikes in February.

Flights from across the world were either cancelled or rerouted, since the closure was announced on February 27.

Following the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, Pakistan had closed its airspace partially, after its decision to downgrade diplomatic relations with India. Three out of 11 routes between India and Pakistan were closed.