After Pakistan denied use of its airspace to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's flight to Saudi Arabia today, India has dragged the matter to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). This is a specialised agency of the United Nations concerned with civil aviation, and serves as the medium for establishment of standards and recommended practices in the fields of safety, security, aviation environment protection and facilitation.
"Overflight clearances are sought and granted by other countries as per the prescribed guidelines of the ICAO," sources in the government told ANI adding that, "We have taken up the matter of such denial with the civil aviation body". According to them, Pakistan has yet again denied the overflight clearance for VVIP special flight, which is otherwise granted routinely by any "normal country".
On Sunday, Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that the country had denied India's request to allow Modi's flight to use its airspace for his visit to the Saudi Kingdom at the invitation of King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, citing alleged human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir. He added that the Indian High Commissioner was informed of this decision in written form.
Pakistan had previously denied Modi access to its airspace for his visit to the US to attend the 74th UN General Assembly session in September, amid rising tensions between the two countries over India's decision to withdraw Jammu and Kashmir's special status. Prior to this, President Ram Nath Kovind had also been denied permission during his official trip to Europe.
"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," the sources said, hours after Pakistani media quoted Qureshi.
Modi is scheduled to reach in Riyadh on Monday night for a two-day visit with an aim to boost bilateral ties between the two countries in key sectors including energy and finance. He is expected to hold talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and attend the third session of the Future Investment Initiative (FII) Forum in Riyadh, where he will deliver the keynote address.
(With PTI inputs)