Pakistan again denies airspace for PM flight

India approaches global aviation body.

New Delhi: India has approached the International civil aviation organisation (ICAO) against Pakistan’s decision of refusing permission for overflight through Pakistani airspace for VVIP Air India One aircraft that carried Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Saudi Arabia late on Monday evening on an official visit.

Government sources said, “We regret the decision of the government of Pakistan to yet again deny overflight clearance for the VVIP special flight, which is otherwise granted routinely by any normal country. Overflight clearances are sought and granted by other countries as per prescribed ICAO guidelines and India will continue to seek such overflight clearances. Separately, we have taken up the matter of such denial with the relevant international civil aviation body. 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.”

It may be recalled that Pakistan had last month similarly refused permission to allow the VVIP Air India One aircraft carrying PM Modi to the United States to overfly its airspace. Two weeks prior to that, Pakistan had also refused permission for the Air India One VVIP flight carrying President Ram Nath Kovind to use its airspace to fly to Iceland. The VVIP aircraft then had to take detours over the Arabian Sea avoiding Pakistani airspace.

India’s Air India One aircraft carry the country’s three VVIPs—-President, vice-president and Prime Minister—-on overseas official visits.

Foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale had said last month that Islamabad “should realise the folly of its actions” and that if Pakistan “is in violation of norms of the International civil aviation organisation (ICAO)” He had indicated that Pakistan’s actions were not those of a “normal” country. In response to a question, Foreign secretary Gokhale had said last month, “So far as airspace is concerned, it was a rather unfortunate situation, where the country denies overflight to the head of state or head of government of another country but this is true, when the country (Pakistan) is a normal country. We have made our position very clear. We hope that Pakistan will realise the folly of its actions. As far as going to any international organisation is concerned, we will take a look at that. ... if they are in violation of regulations of the International civil aviation organisation (ICAO), there is a possibility we can certainly consider that.”

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