Pakistan denies Indian President’s request to use its airspace

Pakistan usually grants India’s President Ram Nath Kovind permission to fly through its airspace, but not this time. (File/AFP)
Updated 07 September 2019

Pakistan denies Indian President’s request to use its airspace

  • “Pakistan will not rest or sleep, nor acquiesce or give up until India ceases its horrendous human rights violation in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir”: FM Qureshi
  • Relations between the two countries have deteriorated over recent years

ISLAMABAD: Islamabad has turned down New Delhi’s request sent earlier this week seeking permission for Indian President Ram Nath Kovind’s flight to travel through Pakistani airspace. The denial comes amid heightened tensions between the two nuclear armed South Asian neighbors over India’s decree to abrogate the constitutional special status given to its side of the disputed region of Kashmir.
After consulting Prime Minister Imran Khan, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told media outlets that “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.”
He said: “The Indian President had sought permission to use Pakistan’s airspace to travel to Iceland, but we decided not to permit him.”
It is unclear if Pakistan’s decision has been formally conveyed to the Indian government but a senior foreign office official requesting not to be named told Arab News that the permission was sought for this Sunday.
The decision comes a day after Pakistan commemorated its 54th Defense Day, paying tribute to its martyrs which fought in the 1965 war with India, one of two wars over the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir.
During a visit to Pakistan’s Azad Kashmir on Friday to meet families of martyred military personnel and army bunkers, Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his sentiments saying, “Pakistan firmly stands with Kashmiris for their right to self-determination.”
Dr. Mohammad Faisal, the Foreign Office spokesman, earlier described the repeal of article 370 and 35-A by the Indian government as a step from “occupation to annexation” and an attempt to turn the globally recognized disputed territory into a province, in violation of international law and UN Security Council Resolution 47 (adopted in 1948, concerning the Kashmir conflict).
Dialogue between Pakistan and India has been suspended since the first term in office of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Relations between the two countries have deteriorated over recent years, but India’s latest move puts regional peace at stake. New Delhi calls this an internal matter which it claims can be resolved bilaterally with Pakistan.
In reaction, Pakistan has suspended its Friendship Express train service to India, downgraded its diplomatic ties with New Delhi, expelled the Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria, and suspended trade with its eastern neighbor.
In February Pakistan restricted Indian air traffic from using its airspace after a suicide attack by an alleged Pakistan-based militant group in Indian-administered Kashmir led to aerial raids attacking each other’s soil and a dogfight at the militarized de-facto Kashmir border known as the Line of Control (LoC).
All commercial flights entering and exiting Indian airspace were forced to take costly and time-consuming detours because they could not fly over Pakistan until July.
Bearing in mind the need to lobby and draw international attention to drum up support on the Kashmir dispute, Pakistan allowed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aircraft to fly through Pakistani airspace to the group of seven summit in France last month, nearly three weeks after India revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.
“It was diplomatic move for appearances as he was traveling to France to attend the G7 Summit, followed by visits to the UAE and Bahrain. The purpose was to garner goodwill amid the curfew in Kashmir and to send a message to the major powers that Pakistan wanted peace with India,” Dr. Raja Qaiser Ahmed, a foreign affairs analyst and an assistant professor at Quaid-i-Azam University’s department of politics and international relations said, adding that Pakistan’s “overture backfired” as the Kashmir issue was not raised during the summit.
“The latest decision (to deny airspace) was made in the light of the lesson learned from the previous decision,” Ahmed said as “Pakistan is left with limited options to change India’s intransigent behavior.”
Retired Air Vice Marshall Abid Rao believes the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir is a matter of “ego” for both sides which has led to Pakistan and India unable to “disengage honorably” to settle the seven-decade long dispute, despite the UN resolution and the loss of more than 700,000 lives resulting from armed rebellions by Kashmiris on the Indian side since 1989.
Foreign Minister Qureshi has made it clear in a strong message to India that “Pakistan will not rest or sleep, nor acquiesce or give up until India ceases its horrendous human rights violation in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir and Kashmiris achieve their legitimate right to self-determination as per the UN Security Council Resolutions.”


Texas officer charged with murder, resigns after shooting

Updated 15 October 2019

Texas officer charged with murder, resigns after shooting

  • Jefferson was staying up late, playing video games with her nephew, when she was killed, according to the family's attorney

FORT WORTH, TEXAS: A white Fort Worth police officer who shot and killed a black woman through a back window of her home while responding to a call about an open front door was charged with murder on Monday after resigning from the force.
Aaron Dean, 34, was booked into jail on a murder charge Monday afternoon. The police chief said earlier in the day that he acted without justification and would have been fired if he didn't quit.
Police bodycam video showed Dean approaching the door of the home where Atatiana Jefferson, 28, was caring for her 8-year-old nephew early Saturday. He then walked around the side of the house, pushed through a gate into the fenced-off backyard and fired through the glass a split-second after shouting at Jefferson to show her hands.
Dean was not heard identifying himself as police on the video, and Interim Police Chief Ed Kraus said there was no sign Dean or the other officer who responded even knocked on the front door.
"Nobody looked at this video and said that there's any doubt that this officer acted inappropriately," Kraus said.
Earlier in the day, Jefferson's family had demanded that Dean, a member of the force for 1½ years, be fired and arrested.
"Why this man is not in handcuffs is a source of continued agitation for this family and for this community," family attorney Lee Merritt said.
Police went to Jefferson's home about 2:25 a.m. after a neighbor called a non-emergency line to report a door ajar. In a statement over the weekend, the department said officers saw someone near a window inside the home and that one of them drew his gun and fired after "perceiving a threat."
The video showed Dean shouting, "Put your hands up! Show me your hands!" and immediately firing.
Jefferson was staying up late, playing video games with her nephew, when she was killed, according to the family's attorney.
As for what, exactly, led Dean to open fire, the police chief said: "I cannot make sense of why she had to lose her life." The chief said Dean resigned without talking to internal affairs investigators.
The video included images of a gun inside a bedroom. Kraus said he did not know whether Jefferson was holding the weapon. But he said the mere fact she had a gun shouldn't be considered unusual in Texas.
"We're homeowners in Texas," the police chief said. "Most of us, if we thought we had somebody outside our house that shouldn't be and we had access to a firearm, we would be acting very similarly to how she was acting." Kraus said that, in hindsight, releasing the images of the weapon was "a bad thing to do."
Mayor Betsy Price called the gun "irrelevant."
"Atatiana was in her own home, caring for her 8-year-old nephew. She was a victim," Price said.
Texas has had a "castle doctrine" law on the books since 2007 that gives people a stronger legal defense to use deadly force in their homes. The law was backed at the time by the National Rifle Association and is similar to "stand your ground" measures across the U.S. that say a person has no duty to retreat from an intruder.
Fort Worth is about 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of Dallas, where another high-profile police shooting occurred last year.
In that case, white Dallas officer Amber Guyger shot and killed her black neighbor Botham Jean inside his own apartment after Guyger said she mistook his place for her own. Guyger, 31, was sentenced this month to 10 years in prison.
A large crowd gathered outside Jefferson's home Sunday night for a vigil after demonstrations briefly stopped traffic on Interstate 35. A single bullet hole was visible in the window of the single-story, freshly painted purple home, and floral tributes and stuffed animals piled up in the street.
The police chief said Dean could face state charges and that he had submitted a case to the FBI to review for possible federal civil rights charges.
Dean has not yet hired an attorney but will have one provided with financial support from the state's largest police union, the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, according to Charley Wilkison, executive director.
Relations with the public have been strained after other recent Fort Worth police shootings. In June, the department released footage of officers killing a man who ignored repeated orders to drop his handgun. He was the fourth person Fort Worth police had fired upon in 10 days.
Of the nine officer-involved shootings so far this year in Fort Worth, five targeted African Americans and six resulted in death, according to department data.
Nearly two-thirds of the department's 1,100 officers are white, just over 20% are Hispanic, and about 10% are black. The city of nearly 900,000 people is about 40% white, 35% Hispanic and 19% black.
Calling the shooting "a pivotal moment in our city," the mayor said she was ordering a top-to-bottom review of the police force and vowed to "rebuild a sense of trust within the city and with our police department."
Jefferson was a 2014 graduate of Xavier University in New Orleans and earned a bachelor's degree in biology. She was working in pharmaceutical equipment sales and was considering going to medical school, according to the family's lawyer.