Another expression of Pakistan’s anguish over revoking of Article 370, the country’s foreign ministry today refused a request by India to allow President Ram Nath Kovind to use its airspace. President Kovind is to embark for a tri-national visit on Monday for which India had sought permission from Pakistan.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Saturday that Pakistan has denied the request saying that decision was approved by Prime Minister Imran Khan in view of the tense situation in Kashmir, the minister told state broadcaster PTV.
The primary objective of President Kovind during his visit to Iceland, Switzerland and Slovenia from Monday is to brief the top leadership in those countries on India’s “national concerns”, especially in view of terror incidents this year, including the Pulwama attack.
Pakistan fully closed its airspace on February 26 after the Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter jets struck a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist training camp in Balakot following the Pulwama terror attack in Kashmir in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.
The Boeing 747 that takes President Kovind to Iceland will now take the longer route that would increase the travelling time 50 minutes more as it will tentatively take the route: Delhi-near Mumbai-Arabian Sea (steering clear of Pakistan airspace around Karachi) — Muscat — and then to Europe.