Indian President denied the use of Pakistani airspace amid heightened tensions 

An arial view of the airplane hub at the airport in Karachi, Pakistan February 3, 2017. ( REUTERS/File )
Updated 08 September 2019

Indian President denied the use of Pakistani airspace amid heightened tensions 

  • India says Pakistan’s denial of airspace is ‘futile’ action
  • PM Modi was allowed the use of Pakistani airspace as diplomatic move ‘for optics’: experts

ISLAMABAD: Islamabad on Saturday turned down a request made by India seeking permission for President Ram Nath Kovind to fly through Pakistani airspace on his way to Iceland. 
The denial comes amid heightened tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbors over the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir after India flooded the valley with troops and cut off communications as Prime Minister Narendra Modi withdrew special legal rights and autonomy for Kashmir on August 5.
“Given the situation where India has taken a rigid position, unwilling to lift the imposed curfew, and depriving people (of Indian-administered Kashmir) of basic facilities, Pakistan has decided not to allow India and its President use of our airspace,” Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told media on Saturday.
A senior foreign office official who asked not to be named told Arab News that the permission sought was for this Sunday.
“We regret the decision of the Government of Pakistan to deny overflight clearance for the VVIP special flight which is otherwise granted routinely by any normal country,” a spokesperson for India’s Ministry of External Affairs, Raveesh Kumar, said on Saturday. “We call upon Pakistan to recognize the futility of such unilateral actions.”
Last month, less than three weeks after India’s decision to revoke Kashmir’s special status, Prime Minister Modi was given permission to use Pakistani airspace on his way to Paris from New Delhi as a gesture of good diplomacy.
“It was a diplomatic move for optics as he was traveling to France to attend the G-7 Summit followed by his visits to UAE and Bahrain respectively,” Dr. Raja Qaiser Ahmed, a foreign affairs analyst and academic, told Arab News.
“The purpose was to garner goodwill amid curfew in Kashmir and send a message to the major powers that Pakistan wanted peace with India and consequently gestured positively,” he said.
But the Kashmir issue was never brought up at the summit, and the overture “backfired,” he said.
“The latest decision (to refuse the use of airspace) was made in concordant with the lesson learned from the previous decision,” Ahmed said, and added Pakistan was left with limited options “to change India’s intransigent behavior.”
Pakistan’s announcement that it had refused the use of its airspace to the Indian President comes a day after the country commemorated its 54th Defense Day, a public holiday to celebrate its armed forces and pay tribute to fallen soldiers in the 1965 war with India, one of two wars fought over Kashmir.
In his Defense Day statement on the website of state-run Radio Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan said he had “informed the world that Pakistan does not want war, but at the same time, Pakistan cannot remain oblivious to the challenges posed to its security and integrity.”
Earlier, Pakistan closed its airspace to Indian traffic after aerial dogfights in February in the skies over Kashmir raised tensions between Islamabad and New Delhi. It finally reopened its skies for all civilian traffic in July, ending months of restrictions which had affected major international routes and thousands of travelers who were forced to take costly and time-consuming detours as alternatives.
After India’s sudden abrogation of Kashmir’s special status, Pakistan has suspended all ground transportation, downgraded its diplomatic ties with New Delhi, expelled the Indian High Commissioner and suspended bilateral trade with its eastern neighbor.
According to Pakistan’s retired Air Vice Marshall Abid Rao, Jammu and Kashmir is “a matter of ego” for both countries, and leaves them unable to “disengage honorably” to settle their seven-decade long dispute.
Rao told Arab News that the new generation of Kashmiris wanted “a free Kashmir... than to become part of any country,” and said it was time for a plebiscite.
Earlier, Pakistan’s army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa addressed a defense day function in the city of Rawalpindi, and said in a televised speech that Pakistan was ready to “give sacrifice for our Kashmiri brothers...and we are prepared to go till any extent.”
India says that 90 percent of the Kashmir valley is now free of restrictions on daytime movement with some landline phone connections restored. But checkpoints remain in place and communication restrictions have made reporting from the region difficult.


Pakistan won’t be blacklisted, makes tremendous progress — Citibank

Updated 09 December 2019

Pakistan won’t be blacklisted, makes tremendous progress — Citibank

  • Blacklisting is not likely, Pakistan has made great strides, says Nadeem Lodhi
  • Greylisting of Pakistan is a geopolitical issue, according to Citibank

KARACHI: Citibank Pakistan has expressed its confidence that the country would not be further downgraded by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on the back of progress it has shown.
“Blacklisting (of Pakistan) is not probability now or any other time,” Nadeem Lodhi, CEO of Citibank Pakistan told journalists at Pakistan Media Roundtable held in Karachi on Monday. 
“Pakistan is making tremendous strides on the list provided by FATF and our regulator is very strong and they have made whatever they have to implement in the financial industry,” he added.
Citibank, which operates in 98 countries and acts as a correspondent bank in Pakistan offering services to corporate and public sector clients – making payments around $4 trillion per day to other banks – says its operations have not been impacted by the greylisting of the country.
“We as a correspondent bank operate on the same alert level (as before greylisting) and it is unchanged for us and business is not impacted or that the business of our client including financial institutions is not impacted,” said Moiz Hussain Ali, Citibank Pakistan country treasury and markets head, explaining that the greylisting of Pakistan is “more of a geopolitical issue.” 
“When Afghanistan is on the white list how can Pakistan be on the grey or black list?” Ali added.
In October, the Paris-based FATF expressed concerns with regard to “overall lack of progress” by Pakistan in addressing its terror financing risks, and gave Islamabad time until February 2020 to complete its full action plan or risk further downgrading.
“Should significant and sustainable progress not be made across the full range of its action plan by the next plenary, the FATF will take action, which could include the FATF calling on its members and urging all jurisdictions to advise their FIs (financial institutions) to give special attention to business relations and transactions with Pakistan,” the FATF warned.
Citibank officials say Pakistan may remain on the greylist till the end of the upcoming year.
“The list given to Pakistan is quite long and it is not that you can do it overnight,” Ali said.
He expressed satisfaction with the government’s current economic policies and called for their continuation.
According to the Citibank officials, if the current political regime, where the army and political leadership look united, continues for the next two years, things should improve.
They said a number of multinational companies are planning to invest at least $500 million each in various sectors of the economy, ranging from consumer goods to energy.