India on Wednesday hit out at Pakistan for denying over-flight clearance to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s VVIP plane for his upcoming visit to the US, saying Islamabad should reflect upon its decision to deviate from well established international practice and reconsider its “old habit” of misrepresenting the reasons for taking unilateral action. The Pakistani government has been under pressure from the opposition and some ministers to impose ban on India to use its airspace after India revoked special status of Kashmir on August 5. Pakistan had fully closed its airspace in February after an Indian Air Force strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camp in Balakot. The country opened its airspace for all flights except for New Delhi, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur on March 27. Unlike a scheduled flight, which has an earmarked route, a special flight requires permissions from all countries over which the aircraft might fly to reach its destination. To ensure that there are no last-minute problems, such permissions are taken in advance for more than one route. One of these many requests had gone to Pakistan also. Earlier this month, permission had been denied to President Ram Nath Kovind’s special flight to overfly Pakistan. That decision too was as publicised as this one, a move seen in context of Pakistan’s effort to step up the rhetoric and hurl threats of war to draw the international community’s attention to Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan on Wednesday rejected India’s request to allow Modi’s aircraft to use its airspace for his upcoming visit to the US via Germany, citing “the current situation in Kashmir”. “India had requested Pakistan to allow Modi to use its airspace to travel to Germany on the 21st (Sept) and return on 28th (Sept),” Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said. Left with no option Pakistan just wants to keep Jammu and Kashmir in international lime light to cater to domestic pressure. Such rhetoric hardly is able to gain any mileage for Pakistan in any fora. On the other hand India too should not go to Pakistan with such requests knowing the past practices.
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