14:32 GMT27 January 2021
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): Islamabad had earlier failed to grant Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi permission to use Pakistani airspace for his visit to Saudi Arabia on 28-29 October.

    The International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO), a United Nations body which monitors international air navigation, has clarified that it cannot step in on the issue of Pakistan denying airspace to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s special flight to Saudi Arabia.

    As a result, Prime Minister Modi will have to take a circuitous route to land in Saudi Arabia late on Monday night for his two-day state visit.

    "The Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention),  helps governments to cooperate, and only applies to the operations of civilian aircraft and not to state or military aircraft," the ICAO spokesperson said in a statement.

    "Flights carrying national leaders are considered state aircraft, and are therefore not subject to ICAO provisions," he added.

    Netizens said the ICAO rejection of New Delhi’s complaint was anticipated and the Indian government should have avoided facing embarrassment.

    India had sought flight clearance for a third time from Pakistan for the prime minister's aircraft to go to Saudi Arabia on Monday, but Islamabad again cited alleged human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir to deny the request.

    New Delhi had then taken up the matter with the ICAO after yet again calling out Pakistan for denying flight clearance for a VVIP special flight, granted routinely by all countries.

    Last month, Islamabad had denied over flight clearance for Prime Minister Modi’s flight to Vladivostok to attend the 5th Eastern Economic Forum and to New York to attend the annual session of the UN General Assembly.

    Islamabad had also rejected a request by India to allow its President Ram Nath Kovind to use Pakistani airspace during his flight to Iceland “in view of India’s behaviour”.

    Tensions between India and Pakistan over the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir have escalated since New Delhi revoked the special quasi-autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir State in the first week of August.

    Under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, Jammu and Kashmir had an autonomous constitution and could make its own decisions, except on matters of defence, foreign affairs, and communications.

    The Indian government’s new initiative stipulates that Jammu and Kashmir will be divided into two federal government administered territories from 31 October.

    Pakistan reacted angrily to what it described as an “illegal” move, promising to protect Kashmiris. Islamabad expelled the Indian envoy, suspended bilateral trade and promised to raise the issue on every platform available to it, including the International Court of Justice.

    India and Pakistan have each been claiming the Kashmir region in full since the end of British colonial rule over the Indian subcontinent in 1947. Despite a ceasefire being agreed upon by both sides in 2003, violence and instability have shown no signs of abating.

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