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    Pakistan Evaluates Options to Close its Airspace to India

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    New Delhi (Sputnik): Amid speculations of Pakistan mulling closure of its airspace to India, the country’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said any such decision will be taken after due consideration.

    Pakistan has been building a global diplomatic narrative to win support for some of the measures it is taking or planning to take against India, after New Delhi's decision to revoke the special status of the Indian side of Jammu and Kashmir. 

    "Pakistan has many options, including the closure of its airspace to India. We are examining the pros and cons of this option," Pakistan daily the Dawn quoted Qureshi as saying.

    He said the federal cabinet had discussed the issue recently, but Prime Minister Imran Khan would take a final decision. "A decision to this effect will be taken after due consideration and looking into each and every aspect of the move through consultation, said Qureshi."

    Pakistan had closed its airspace in February this year after an Indian Air Force (IAF) strike on an alleged Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror training camp in the country's Balakot region.

    The IAF strike of 26 February came a fortnight after a suicide bomber affiliated with JeM killed 40 Indian security personnel travelling in a convoy through Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama region.

    The IAF strike was followed on 27 February by an aerial dogfight between IAF and Pakistan Air Force (PAF) fighter jets over the Nowshera Sector of the Kashmir region, and the capture of IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman by Pakistani forces.

    Islamabad released Wing Commander Varthaman on 1 March after facing a lot of pressure from the international community.

    Pakistan opened its airspace for all flights on 16 July.

    Tensions between India and Pakistan resurfaced after New Delhi abrogated seven decades-old special status of Jammu and Kashmir. It was also decided to divide the state into two central government-administered territories effective from 31 October.

    Though diplomatic and trade engagement was suspended, Islamabad did not close its airspace. This allowed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to fly over Pakistan's air space to attend the G7 Summit in France last month.

    India and Pakistan claim Kashmir in full but rule it in part. The nuclear-armed neighbours have fought two of their three wars over the disputed territory.

    Tags:
    Jammu and Kashmir, Kashmir, speculation, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, foreign minister, closure, airspace, Pakistan, India
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