India's Modi to avoid Pakistan airspace despite getting permission

An arial view of the airplane hub at the airport in Karachi, Pakistan February 3, 2017. (Reuters)
Updated 13 June 2019
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India's Modi to avoid Pakistan airspace despite getting permission

  • Airlines using Indian airspace forced to take detours because they cannot fly over Pakistan since February amid rising tensions
  • Pakistan had cleared Modi’s flight to Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan to attend Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit

NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will avoid flying over Pakistan during an official trip to central Asia on Thursday, the foreign ministry said, even though Pakistan has granted overflight access.

Pakistan closed its airspace in February after a suicide attack by a Pakistan-based militant group in Indian-controlled Kashmir led to aerial bombing missions on each other’s soil and a fighter dogfight over Kashmir.

Commercial and cargo airlines using Indian airspace have been forced to take costly and time-consuming detours because they cannot fly over Pakistan.

But Pakistan had cleared Modi’s flight to Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit beginning on Thursday, Indian and Pakistan sources said.

The Indian foreign ministry said the government had considered the routes for Modi’s travel and decided he would take the longer passage to Central Asia instead of the direct route over Pakistan.

The move follows calls in local media that Modi shouldn’t be securing an exception for himself while thousands of ordinary travelers were enduring the longer travel because of the tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals.

“The Government of India had explored two options for the route to be taken by the VVIP Aircraft to Bishkek. A decision has now been taken that the VVIP Aircraft will fly via Oman, Iran and Central Asian countries on the way to Bishkek,” the foreign ministry said.

Modi’s move also suggests there is little chance of a thaw in ties even though Pakistan said it hoped to revive talks after elections in India ended in May.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will also be attending the SCO meeting, but Indian officials said there were no plans for a bilateral meeting between him and Modi.

Vivek Katju, a former top Indian diplomat who dealt with Pakistan ties, said in a newspaper column on Tuesday that he was disappointed the Modi government had initially sought overflight permission from Islamabad.

“Would it not have been better for government to show solidarity with common travelers, including the great number of workers who live in the Gulf countries and make significant contributions to India’s economy?” he said.

Pakistan announced last month that the airspace closure on its eastern border with India would be extended to June 14. The country lies in the middle of a vital aviation corridor.


Punishment unless first wife and arbitration body approve second marriage, Pakistan court rules

Updated 25 June 2019
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Punishment unless first wife and arbitration body approve second marriage, Pakistan court rules

  • Verdict a “big win” for me and all women fighting against patriarchy, petitioner Dilshad Bibi says
  • Council of Islamic Ideology Chairman says no need to seek permission under Sharia law

ISLAMABAD: Dilshad Bibi, a woman who moved the court eight years ago against her husband for marrying for a second time, said on Tuesday the Islamabad High Court’s recent decision recommending punishment if male spouses did not get permission to remarry from an arbitration council as well as the first wife was a “big win” for women.
In a ruling on Monday, Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah said a man would be punished if he entered into a second marriage unless it was approved by a reconciliation council and his wife.
“It [the verdict] is a big win for me and all women who have been fighting against patriarchy and injustices in society,” Bibi told Arab News. “I never lost hope and faith in our justice system, and finally won the case after eight years of long struggle.”
Bibi and husband Liaqat Ali Meer tied the knot in May 2011. Meer remarried in January 2013 without seeking permission from his first wife or a reconciliation council whose permission is binding under Muslim family law in Pakistan.
Subsequently Bibi moved a local court against her husband which sentenced him to one month in prison and a fine of Rs5,000 ($32). The punishment was overturned by an appellate court in February 2017, after which Bibi went to the IHC.
On Monday, the IHC overturned the verdict that acquitted Bibi’s husband. Meer will now have to serve his term and pay the fine, and an appellate court will reexamine whether additional punishment is required.
“During the subsistence of an existing marriage, no man shall contract another marriage except with the previous permission in writing of the Arbitration Council,” the court ruled in a 12-page verdict, quoting a section of the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance, 1961 related to polygamy.
According to Islamabad Capital Territory Local Government Act, 2015, the federal government is responsible for establishing an “arbitration council” for the amicable settlement of disputes in a locality. The council comprises a panel of seven members, including at least one woman, who are nominated for a term of five years.
With Monday’s verdict, the court had not banned second marriage, Bibi’s lawyer Ali Hussain Bhatti said, but made it “compulsory for men to follow a due process before contracting a second marriage.”
“This is still a historic verdict and will help protect the rights of women,” he told Arab News.
Bibi said the IHC’s verdict would now serve as a precedent for future court cases and “help women get justice and equal rights.”
Having multiple wives is common in about a quarter of the world’s nations, predominantly conservative male-dominated communities in Africa and Muslim-majority countries where it is part of traditional or religious customs.
But campaigners say most polygamous marriages fuel poverty — with husbands neglecting one family over another — leaving thousands of women and children impoverished and easy prey for exploitation.
In Pakistan, polygamy is not widespread and is mostly common in rural areas in families without a male heir or in cases when men fell in love with another woman.
Rights campaigner Farzana Bari said Monday’s verdict would “encourage more women to fight for their rights and approach courts for justice in case of any unfair treatment by their husbands.”
Dr. Qibla Ayaz, chairman of Pakistan’s Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), a body that advises the government on the compatibility of laws with Islam, said Pakistani law was in contradiction with Sharia law which did not bind a man to seek permission from his first wife to contract a second marriage.
“If a man does not seek permission from his wife and the conciliation council before remarrying, he will be punished under the law of the land, but his second marriage will still remain valid,” Ayaz told Arab News, “Under Sharia law, there is no need to seek permission of the first wife.”