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

Updated 12 July 2019

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.


Pakistan ranks ninth on CPJ’s 2020 Global Impunity Index 

Updated 29 October 2020

Pakistan ranks ninth on CPJ’s 2020 Global Impunity Index 

  • The annual index spotlights countries where journalists are slain and their killers go free
  • The ranking is: Somalia, Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Mexico, Philippines, Brazil, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Russia, India

ISLAMABAD: The Committee to Protect Journalists has ranked Pakistan number nine on its annual Global Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are slain and their killers go free. 

The ranking is: Somalia, Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Mexico, Philippines, Brazil, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Russia, India.

Each year the CPJ index includes more stable countries where criminal and political groups, politicians, business leaders, and other powerful actors resort to violence to silence critical and investigative journalists. 

“CPJ has found that corruption, weak institutions, and lack of political will to pursue robust investigations are all factors behind impunity in these countries, which include Pakistan, Mexico, and the Philippines,” the watchdog said on its website. 

In Pakistan, a verdict in the Daniel Pearl case this year showed that “even murder cases that were long thought to be resolved can be upended,” the watchdog said. 

On April 2, the Sindh High Court overturned the murder convictions of four men accused in the 2002 killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. The decision found Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who had previously been sentenced to death, guilty only of kidnapping Pearl and reduced his sentence to seven years, which he has already served. The Pearl family and the Sindh provincial government appealed, and according to news reports, the four men remained imprisoned at the end of September.

Freeing the men “would be a devastating setback for justice that would also send a dangerous message to Jihadi militants in Pakistan and around the world, who have systematically targeted journalists in the 18 years since Pearl was killed,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon wrote in the Columbia Journalism Review.

Pakistan and the Philippines have been mainstays on the Global Impunity Index since its inception in 2008. The Philippines is the biggest mover in this year’s rankings, improving from the fifth worst country worldwide to the seventh worst.