India has strongly dismissed reports in the Pakistani media that it denied Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Bin Mohamad the right to fly over India.
ISLAMABAD — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration denied Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad a right to fly over India during his recent trip to Pakistan to discuss possibilities of enhanced bilateral trade and development and to attend the country’s National Day Parade on March 23.
Sources privy to the development told The News that the permission was withdrawn at the last minute, forcing the Malaysian premier to take a much longer route over the Arabian Sea and cruise as far as Oman before returning to Islamabad.
International relations analysts say the incident “if happened” is “fairly rare” as India and Malaysia have a history of maintaining friendly ties over the years. Both countries have a bilateral trade worth over $10 billion and were hoping to take it to $25 billion by 2020.
One possible reason for taking the unprecedented and undiplomatic step by Prime Minister Modi is Prime Minister Mohamad’s “preference” to Pakistan over India. Elizabeth Roche, an Indian journalist, wrote during the third visit to India by Premier Mohamad’s predecessor Najib Razak in 2017: “Many in the government and the Indian strategic community agree that bilateral ties under [former] Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who was in power from 1981 to 2003, were far from satisfactory — mainly due to a perceived tilt towards India’s arch rival Pakistan.”
A senior retired Pakistani diplomat said such a development was very rare between countries that were not overtly engaged in hostilities against each other. Yes, it can happen during “erratic” time as we have between Pakistan and India at the moment but that also shows the meanness of the Modi administration, he said, The News reported.
India rejects Pakistan claim
India has strongly dismissed reports in the Pakistani media that it denied Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Bin Mohamad the right to fly over India during his recent visit to Pakistan. Indian government sources said the reports were “false and motivated.”
Calling it “false” and “motivated”, sources in India said that the truth was that Pakistan has “blocked its own airspace from flights which are overflying or originating from India”.
As per Pakistani media reports, the permission was withdrawn at the “last minute”, forcing the Malaysian premier to take a much longer route over the Arabian Sea and cruise as far as Oman before returning to Islamabad.
But the truth is that it was Pakistan that has closed down airspace. Sources say that even though the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had given overflight clearance to Malaysian PM’s flight, it had to take a longer route because Pakistan had denied permission.
“It is strange that even for their national day guest from Malaysia, Pakistan could not make an exception,” sources said.
(With media inputs)