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Imran Khan Considering Complete Closure of Air Space to India, Says Pakistan Minister amid J&K Row

Fawad Hussain, the federal minister for science and technology, said the move was suggested in a Cabinet meeting and the legal formalities for these decisions are under consideration.

News18.com

Updated:August 27, 2019, 11:32 PM IST
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Imran Khan Considering Complete Closure of Air Space to India, Says Pakistan Minister amid J&K Row
File photo of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. (Reuters)
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New Delhi: A Pakistan minister on Tuesday said that Prime Minister Imran Khan is considering completely closing the country's air space to India as well as a complete ban on use of its land routes for trade to Afghanistan.

Fawad Hussain, the federal minister for science and technology, said the move was suggested in a Cabinet meeting and the legal formalities for these decisions are under consideration.

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.

On May 15, Pakistan extended its airspace ban for flights to India till May 30. It fully opened its airspace for all civilian traffic on July 16. Air India, the country's flag carrier, operates around 50 flights daily through Pakistani airspace. These are flights to the US, Europe and the Middle East.

Pakistan has already suspended its trade with India and stopped the train and bus services in protest to India's August 5 decision to end Jammu and Kashmir's special status.

Chaudhry said that a blanket ban on the use of Pakistani land routes for India's trade with Afghanistan was also suggested during the Cabinet meeting held on Tuesday. He said the legal formalities for these decisions to take effect were under consideration.

The statement came as bilateral tensions between the neighbours, over the issue of abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, remains on a high. The BJP-led Narendra Modi government earlier this month had revoked the state's special status and passed a legislation bifurcating it into two Union Territories -- Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

While India has maintained that Jammu and Kashmir is an internal issue, Pakistan has been trying to drum up international support, with Imran Khan ringing up several world leaders. Khan has also promised to raise the issue at every international forum, including at the UN General Assembly.

The Pakistan Senate Chairman had earlier cancelled his visit to the Gulf nation after the United Arab Emirates honoured Modi with its highest civilian award — the 'Order of Zayed'.

Special Assistant to Pakistan Prime Minister on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan told the media that the Kashmir issue was also discussed at the Cabinet meeting. She said that the Cabinet endorsed Prime Minister Khan's view to fight the Kashmir case in the United Nations and every other world forum.

During Modi's bilateral meeting with US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G7 Summit in France on Monday, the Prime Minister categorically rejected any scope for third party mediation between India and Pakistan on Kashmir, saying the two countries can discuss and resolve all issues bilaterally and "we don't want to trouble any third country."

On his part, Trump said he and Modi spoke about Kashmir "at great length" on Sunday night and he feels that both India and Pakistan can resolve it on their own. "We spoke last night about Kashmir, the Prime Minister really feels he has it (situation) under control. They speak with Pakistan and I'm sure that they will be able to do something that will be very good," Trump said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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| Edited by: Moonmoon Ghosh
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