Pakistan has denied India use of its airspace for the third time due to “ongoing grave human rights violations” in Indian-administrated Kashmir.
Pakistan’s denial of its airspace follows the decision by India to strip the Muslim majority Kashmir of its limited autonomy and impose order through the deployment of the security forces. This continues to be the situation in Kashmir and has lasted over 80 days.
In February following a suicide bombing which killed dozens of Indian troops stationed in Kashmir, Pakistan closed its airspace to Indian traffic due to increased tensions. It reopened its skies for civilian traffic in January but refused to requests by Indian President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Modi to use the airspace last month.
Whilst it has not been confirmed Pakistani officials have told AFP news agency that Modi wished to use the airspace to travel to Saudi Arabia where he would participate in an investment summit.
India has been accused of a number of human rights violations in Kashmir including the detention and torture of civilians as well as imposing a communications blockade which has severed ties from seven million people and the outside world.
In a video message Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan defended Kashmiri’s right to self-determination stating:
"The entire Pakistani nation stands by Kashmiris and will keep on extending them full moral, political and diplomatic support at all international fora ... and this is my solemn pledge to Kashmiris being their ambassador and spokesman"
Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Foreign Minister stated:
"Indian Prime Minister wanted to use our airspace but we denied permission in the perspective of black day being observed by Kashmiris today to condemn Indian occupation and ongoing grave human rights violations in Indian-occupied Kashmir”
In Pakistan-administrated Kashmir, demonstrators took to the streets carrying Pakistan’s flag and demanding India to lift its blockades to parts of the Himalayan region.
Demonstrations were held in major cities with protesters waving flags of Pakistan-administered Kashmir and asking India to lift restrictions placed on parts of the Himalayan region.