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.


Jailed Pashtun lawmakers released after four months in custody

Updated 21 September 2019
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Jailed Pashtun lawmakers released after four months in custody

  • Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar were arrested after a deadly clash at a security checkpost in northern Pakistan in May
  • In Twitter post after his release, Dawar thanked Bilawal Bhutto for support; said allegations of violence were “most hurtful”

PESHAWAR: After months of detention, two Pakistani parliamentarians from South and North Waziristan were released two days after they received bail in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, a senior member of their political party, the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), said on Saturday.
The two lawmakers, Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar, were arrested alongside several members of the PTM following a deadly clash between troops and party supporters at the Khar Qamar checkpost in North Waziristan tribal district in May, where 13 people were killed.
“Justice has won and it is proved that Wazir and Dawar were innocent. Both the members (of the) National Assembly are among us and our constitutional and peaceful struggle will get fresh momentum,” Abdullah Nangyal, a senior leader of the PTM, told Arab News.
He said that hundreds of PTM supporters greeted the two lawmakers when they came out of the high-security Haripur prison after midnight on Saturday.
“The release of the MNAs had to be delayed for hours because of submitting legal documents and furnishing surety bonds,” Nangyal said.

From right, lawmaker Mohsin Dawar, leader of Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), Manzoor Pashteen, PTM leader Abdullah Nangyal and lawmaker Ali Wazir in a car heading to the provicial capital Peshawar after the release of the two lawmakers from a jail on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. (Photo: Social Media)

Soon after their release, both parliamentarians drove straight to the provincial capital of Peshawar alongside supporters, from where it is expected they will travel onwards to their home constituencies in North and South Waziristan.
After his release from jail, lawmaker Mohsin Dawar said in a series of Twitter posts that the “allegation of violence against us preachers of non-violence,” was the most “hurtful in all this.”
“I would like to thank all of those who raised their voice for our release. There are too many names, but one that I must mention is @BBhuttoZardari for his unwavering support both in & out of parliament,” he tweeted.
Headed by Justice Nasir Mehfooz, the Bannu bench of the Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Wednesday had conditionally approved bail applications that said the lawmakers would furnish surety bonds of Rs. 1 million each.
In addition, the court barred the parliamentarians from leaving the country, and directed them to appear before district police officers once a month.
Later, in a detailed verdict, the bench stated that the bail was granted only for a period of one month, and would be subject to conditions of “good behavior.” Before the expiry of that period, both men would need to file fresh bail applications in the PHC.
Separately, the two lawmakers were also named in a case lodged on June 7 at a police station in Bannu, after an IED explosion in Doga Macha in North Waziristan tribal district, left four army officers martyred. Wazir and Dawar were already in custody at the time of the IED blast and received bail in the Doga Macha case last month by an anti-terrorism court.