UN body washes hands of India's plaint on Pak denial of airspace

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

New Delhi: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Saudi Arabia's Riyadh late on Monday night on a two-day visit using an alternative air route after the International Civil Aviation Organisation refused to act on India's complaint against Pakistan for its refusal to let the prime minister's plane go through its airspace to Saudi Arabia.

Flights carrying national leaders are considered as "state aircraft" and are not subject to its provisions, the ICAO said.

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

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

The ICAO is a specialised UN agency and its main job is to manage the administration and governance of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention).

India had taken up Pakistan's denial of use of its airspace to the prime minister's flight with the ICAO, government sources said on Monday ahead of Narendra Modi's visit to Saudi Arabia on a bilateral visit.

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

The sources added that India regrets Pakistan's decision to yet again deny overflight clearance for the VVIP special flight, granted routinely by any normal country.

On Sunday, Pakistan denied India's request to allow Modi's aircraft to move in its airspace for his visit to Saudi Arabia.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said in a statement that Pakistan has decided to not allow Prime Minister Modi to use the country's airspace, state-run Radio Pakistan reported. He said the decision has been taken in context of the "black day" and in view of the alleged human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir, it added.

In September, Pakistan denied overflight clearance to the prime minister's aircraft during his visit to the US.

India has taken up the issue of denial of overflight clearance with the relevant international civil aviation body, they said.

"Overflight clearances are sought, and granted by other countries as per prescribed ICAO guidelines," said a source.

India will continue to seek such overflight clearances, he added.

(With inputs from PTI.)

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