Pakistan declines India’s request to open airspace until New Delhi deescalates tensions

Updated 12 July 2019
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Pakistan declines India’s request to open airspace until New Delhi deescalates tensions

  • Airspace was closed after both countries carried out aerial bombing missions on each other’s soil in February
  • Foreign carriers using Indian airspace have been forced to take costly detours because they cannot fly over Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has declined an Indian request to open its airspace until New Delhi takes actions to deescalate tensions between the warring neighbors, including withdrawing fighter planes in forward positions, Pakistani Aviation Secretary Shah­rukh Nusrat told a parliamentary committee this week. 
The comments follow months of tension between the two countries, which came close to war in February over the disputed region of Kashmir, which both sides have claimed since independence from Britain in 1947.
Following a suicide attack in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed 40 members of an Indian paramilitary police force in February, Indian jets launched a raid inside Pakistan, with Pakistan conducting a retaliatory strike of its own. Jets from the two countries also fought a brief dogfight in the skies over Kashmir during which an Indian pilot was shot down and captured. Pakistan returned the pilot and there were no further strikes but tensions remained high. 
Pakistan has since kept part of its airspace closed to international air traffic, disrupting flights to India and other parts of the region.
“The Indian government approached asking us to open the airspace,” Nusrart told the Senate Standing Committee on Aviation on Thursday. “We conveyed our concerns that first India must withdraw its fighter planes placed forward.”
Though official talks between Pakistan and India are mostly suspended, track II diplomacy has picked up to help relieve tensions. On Friday, Pakistani and Indian delegates, including journalists, academics, students and activists, met for a backchannel dialogue organized by the Regional Peace Institute in Islamabad to discuss ways to normalize ties. 
“Our basic purpose is to find out a way to move forward and address the areas of concern in both the countries,” said journalist Taimur Shamil who attended the meetings. He said Pakistan and India could cooperate in the fields of education, culture, religious tourism, economy and trade: “Since Pakistan is working on a mega economic activity, there is a huge potential of investment [for India] in our country as well,” he said.
According to RPI director Raoof Hassan, the purpose of the initiative was to “encourage the youth of the two countries to take charge to move forward.”
The second round of the track-II dialogue will take place in New Delhi in September this year.


UAE says will open Asia’s biggest visa center in Karachi in September

Updated 10 min 54 sec ago
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UAE says will open Asia’s biggest visa center in Karachi in September

  • Another all-purpose visa center to begin operations in Islamabad in first week of October 2019
  • UAE ambassador says Pak-UAE ties could be strengthened by exploring more opportunities for trade and investment

KARACHI: United Arab Emirates ambassador to Pakistan, Hamad Obaid Alzaabi, said on Friday the UAE Embassy would open its biggest visa center in Asia in the port city of Karachi in the first week of September this year and another all-purpose visa center in Islamabad in the first week of October.
“Everything will be done here, including medical insurance, checkups and the contracts etc. to facilitate visa issuance from the visa center in Karachi which will be the biggest visa center of Asia,” Alzaabi said at a meeting during a visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry. “The entire team for this Visa Center at Khayaban-e-Shamsheer in Karachi will come from UAE.”
Deputy Consul General of UAE Bakheet Ateeq Alremeithi, Chairman Businessmen Group and Former President KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli, President KCCI Junaid Esmail Makda, Senior Vice President KCCI Khurram Shahzad, Vice President KCCI Asif Sheikh Javaid and KCCI Managing Committee members were also present at the meeting.
While expressing gratitude to KCCI for extending its hospitality, the UAE Ambassador said that relations between Pakistan and UAE had always been very strong but could be strengthened by exploring opportunities and potential areas for enhancing trade and investment. 
“The governments of UAE and Pakistan are working very hard to narrow the gap and find opportunities, chances and potential for trade and investment,” Alzaabi said. “We are trying to find new areas of cooperation where we could work together and also examining the challenging areas so that these could be addressed by the authorities in UAE. Inshallah we will put our hands together to move forward in future.”
He said the UAE was now offering Pakistanis Silver Investment Visas for 5 years and Golden Investment Visas for 10 years and stressed the need for a legal framework between UAE and Pakistan to encourage and save investments made in either of the two countries. 
Chairman BMG & Former President KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli appreciated the support and cooperation being extended by UAE’s Embassy and its Consulate in Karachi but requested the Deputy Consul General to devise a system in collaboration with KCCI so that visas could be issued to credible businessmen and industrialists with a personal guarantee by KCCI. He also requested the Ambassador to only entertain visa recommendation letters and requests from those Chambers of Commerce and trade associations which were legally registered at the Ministry of Commerce, adding that the UAE Embassy could easily obtain a list of all legal Chambers of Commerce and trade bodies along with their jurisdiction details from the Ministry of Commerce that would help in better understanding the legalities and jurisdictions of 42 Chambers of Commerce and around 120 sector-specific trade associations in Pakistan.
President KCCI Junaid Esmail Makda said KCCI would soon sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the UAE Chamber to improve trade and investment ties and bring the business communities closer to each other. 
“We should work collectively to enhance bilateral trade and deal with all the irritants and barriers, particularly the non-tariff barriers between the two countries,” Makda said, adding that other than tourist visas, the UAE government must also look into the possibility of issuing business visas to Pakistan’s business community.