New Delhi, September 18: India has formally requested Pakistan to allow the use of its air space for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's flight to the United States, according to reports. PM Narendra Modi is scheduled to leave for the US on September 22. Pakistan is yet to respond to India's request. Notably, Islamabad recently denied permission to President Ram Nath Kovind’s aircraft fly over it during an official trip to Iceland.
New Delhi's request came in the midst of rising tension between the two countries over the Kashmir issue. Pakistan has been severely critical of India’s decision to withdraw the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. Pakistan had fully closed its airspace in February after an Indian Air Force strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camp in Balakot in retaliation to the Pulwama terror attack.
The country opened its airspace for all flights except for New Delhi, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur on March 27. The country fully opened its airspace for all civilian traffic on July 16. PM Modi's flight will have to take a long detour if Pakistan rejects India's request. After Pakistan denied permission to President Kovind's plane, New Delhi criticised Islamabad for its action.
"We regret the decision of the government of Pakistan to deny overflight clearance for the VVIP special flight which is otherwise granted routinely by any normal country," Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said. "We call upon Pakistan to recognise the futility of such unilateral actions," he added.