Islamabad, 3rd Nov: In a move that will hurt the people of Jammu and Kashmir the most, Pakistan has disallowed flights taking off from Srinagar for Sharjah from flying over its territory.
This is first a violation of international norms– the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) First Freedom of the Air as well as a burden on Kashmiris, who are using the flight the most. The flight will be an hour and a half longer as planes will have to fly to Sharjah via Udaipur and Ahmedabad and overfly Oman. The flight will also be more expensive, an additional burden for passengers, most of whom are Kashmiris.
The ministry of external affairs has been informed about Pakistan’s decision as has the civil aviation ministry. The Pakistan government’s decision, a top government official said, has come as a surprise as flights had begun from October 23 and there have been flights on October 24, 26 and 28. The ICAO’s First Freedom Right grants the right to fly across territory without landing.
The decision is also a setback for Kashmiris and their economic well being as a cargo transportation agreement had been agreed to.
The sudden Pakistani decision comes right after a statement by the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, saying: “Good to see the refusal of space usage is a thing of the past.”