India has approached the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) after Pakistan denied Prime Minister Narendra Modi's special flight the use of its airspace, sources in the government said. Regretting Islamabad’s stand, the sources said such overflight clearances for VVIP special flights were 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," the sources said.
Pakistan on Saturday said it has denied India's request to allow Modi's VVIP flight to fly through its airspace for his upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia, citing the "ongoing grave human rights violations" in Jammu and Kashmir.
This is the third time in recent weeks that Islamabad has refused to allow Indian leaders to use its airspace after turning down last month requests by President Ram Nath Kovind and Modi.
"The Indian Prime Minister wanted to use our airspace but we denied permission in the perspective of black day being observed by Kashmiris today to condemn Indian occupation and ongoing grave human rights violations in Indian-occupied Kashmir," Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said in a statement, adding that the Indian high commissioner (ambassador) was being informed about the decision.
Modi will travel to Saudi Arabia on Monday where he will attend an international business forum and hold talks with top Saudi leadership.
In September, Pakistan rejected India's request to allow Modi's flight to use its airspace for his visit to the US to attend the UN General Assembly. It also refused India's request to allow President Ram Nath Kovind to use its airspace for his flight to Iceland in the same month.
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, ending months of restrictions that had affected major international routes.
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.
Tensions between the neighbours spiked after India abrogated provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution to withdraw Jammu and Kashmir's special status and bifurcated it into Union Territories, evoking strong reactions from Pakistan. India has categorically told the international community that the scrapping of Article 370 was an internal matter and also advised Pakistan to accept the reality.