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Pakistan may close its airspace, land trade routes to Afghanistan for India

Pakistan may close its airspace, land trade routes to Afghanistan for India
Highlights

Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said the federal Cabinet which met on Tuesday were considering the closure and that legal formalities are under consideration.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan government is once again mulling a complete ban on the use of the country's airspace by Indian flights, a senior minister said on Tuesday, weeks after the Indian government revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status.

Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said the federal Cabinet which met on Tuesday was also considering banning India from using Pakistani land routes for Indo-Afghan trade.

"PM is considering a complete closure of Air Space to India, a complete ban on the use of Pakistan Land routes for Indian trade to Afghanistan was also suggested in the cabinet meeting, legal formalities for these decisions are under consideration," Chaudhry, a close aide of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted.

Pakistan had fully closed its airspace on February 26 after the Indian Air Force fighter jets struck a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist training camp in Balakot in retaliation to the Pulwama attack on February 14.

Pakistan fully opened its airspace for all civilian traffic on July 16.

Air India, the country's flag carrier, operates around 50 flights daily through Pakistani airspace.

These are flights to the US, Europe and the Middle East.

Chaudhry said that a blanket ban on the use of Pakistani land routes for India's trade with Afghanistan was also suggested during the Cabinet meeting held on Tuesday.

He said the legal formalities for these decisions to take effect were under consideration.

"Modi has started we'll finish!" the minister tweeted, referring to the Indian government's move to revoke Jammu and Kashmir's special autonomy on August 5.

Reacting to India's decision, Pakistan expelled the Indian High Commissioner soon after deciding to downgrade the diplomatic ties with India over what it called New Delhi's "unilateral and illegal" move.

Chaudhry's statement came a day after Prime Minister Khan said that he will raise the Kashmir issue at every international forum, including at the UN General Assembly next month.

Khan's address to the nation came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his meeting with US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G7 Summit in France on Monday, categorically rejected any scope for third party mediation between India and Pakistan on Kashmir.

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