India has criticised Pakistan for refusing a request to allow President Ram Nath Kovind to use its airspace for his flight to Iceland. Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi announced the decision on Saturday, 7 September.

Reacting to the development, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, “We regret the decision of Govt of Pakistan to deny overflight clearance for the VVIP special flight which is otherwise granted routinely by any normal country.”

‘Decision Approved by PM Imran Khan’

Kovind will embark on a visit to Iceland, Switzerland, and Slovenia from Monday during which he is expected to brief the top leadership in those countries on India's "national concerns", especially in view of terror incidents this year, including the Pulwama attack, according to PTI.

The decision was approved by Prime Minister Imran Khan in view of the tense situation in Kashmir, the minister told state broadcaster PTV.

Khan's government was under pressure from the Opposition and some ministers to impose on India to use its airspace after India revoked the special status of Kashmir.

Though, so far no decision was taken to impose the blanket ban but Pakistan did not accede to President Kovind’s request to use its airspace.

Qureshi said New Delhi's tough stance on Kashmir was a serious issue which he would take up with the United Nations Human Rights Council, PTI reported.

He noted that 34 days have elapsed since the Indian authorities imposed a crippling curfew in Kashmir before revoking the region's special status on 5 August.

Tensions Between India And Pakistan

Pakistan fully closed its airspace on 26 February after the Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter jets struck a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist training camp in Balakot. The country opened its airspace for all flights except for New Delhi, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur on 27 March.

On 15 May, Pakistan extended its airspace ban for flights to India till 30 May. It fully opened its airspace for all civilian traffic on 16 July.

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

Tensions between India and Pakistan spiked after India abrogated provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution to withdraw Jammu and Kashmir's special status and bifurcated it into two 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.