What started as a defence exigency is now staring the latest political developments in both countries as India-Pakistan's airspace closure has been extended till May 30.

Pakistan closed its airspace entirely in February, following the IAF’s Balakot air-strike. It was partially opened for domestic flights and international flights that were either originating from Pakistan or are Pakistan-bound.

Flights between India and Pakistan are not operating. Flights using India-Pakistan airspace have been rerouted — resulting in long flying hours, overshooting costs, etc.

In February, it was a defence decision.

Three months down the line, it is political — beyond the aviation authorities of both the countries.

This is a bilateral situation, true. But the ramifications are international.

Both India and Pakistan are bearing the brunt of the closure — especially given Pakistan’s present economic crisis. (The dollar has reached a historical high of Rs 148 in Pakistan).

But the issue has evidently been put on a slow back-burner.

Passing The Buck

Pakistan, of course, is blaming India for not showing any interest in “de-escalation”. Pakistan’s foreign office spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal told Dawn, “We want de-escalation. If de-escalation takes place, we would not like to have a ban (on our airspace for India) for a single day but for the purpose, it (India) will have to talk to us. India should show rational behaviour and must understand that issues will not be resolved through confrontation.”

From February to April, about 513 cases of ceasefire violations have been reported.

So, Why May 30?

The results of the Lok Sabha Elections 2019 will be out on May 23. So, Pakistan has bought time till May 30 to review the opening of its airspace. It hopes by that time, the new government will be formed.

Whoever wins and whoever comes to the power, it is highly unlikely that a new Pakistan policy will be in place before May 30.

A clear case of holding airspace hostage to politics!


The present situation looks like this: India wants Pakistan to stop funding terrorism. Pakistan wants India to de-escalate bilateral tension. Seeing these two ever-acrimonious neighbours, international airlines are taking a longer route. 

There is no end to this chaotic situation in sight because the stonewalling will continue. And both India and Pakistan, it seems, have more important issues at hand to address.