India had taken up the issue with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

ISLAMABAD (Dunya News) – The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has turned down India’s complaint against Pakistan’s denial of permission to India’s request for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to cross its airspace on an overseas tour, First Post reported on Tuesday.

The ICAO stated that flights carrying national leaders are considered "state aircraft" and are not subject to its provisions, in response to India’s complaint.

The ICAO spokesperson is quoted to have 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."

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

Tension has flared between the neighbours over the disputed Kashmir after India stripped the Himalayan region of its autonomy and severed telecoms links for months, with flights over Pakistan becoming the latest sticking-point in relations.

Modi, who flew to Saudi Arabia on Monday for an investors’ summit, took a circuitous route because of Pakistan’s refusal, an Indian foreign ministry source said.

India had taken up the issue with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the official added.

“It is a standard thing we do, we seek permission from the countries on the route,” said the official, who sought anonymity because of the sensitive diplomatic situation. “It was done in this case too, and it was refused.”

Pakistan’s foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, said Modi was being blocked because of his government’s repression in the Muslim-majority territory of Kashmir.

In a statement, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that the decision has been made “in context of today’s Black Day and in view of the continued gross human rights violations in occupied Jammu and Kashmir.”

He said the Indian High Commissioner was being informed of this decision in a written form.

“India has consistently carried out grave atrocities and inflicted tremendous pain and misery upon innocent Kashmiris who have been landlocked and cut-off from the outside world for more than 80 days since India’s unilateral annexation of a disputed territory, said FM Qureshi.

“We will not allow Modi to use Pakistan’s airspace; the Indian High commission is being informed in this regard.”

India withdrew Kashmir’s special status in August in order to tighten its grip over the region and clamped down on public gatherings, telecommunications and detained scores of leaders, provoking condemnation from Pakistan and the world community members.

Islamabad previously refused a request in September from Modi to cross its airspace on a flight to Germany as tension runs high over Kashmir.

In Montreal, ICAO spokesman Anthony Philbin said India had sent the agency a letter about Pakistan’s refusal to grant overflight clearance.

The 1944 Convention on International Civil Aviation, which established ICAO and promotes cooperation between countries, only applies to the operations of civilian aircraft, and not to state or military aircraft.

A similar ratcheting-up of tension led to an aerial clash between the arch foes in the skies over Kashmir this year, prompting Pakistan to shut its airspace for months to all aircraft travelling to and from India, forcing airlines to take longer routes.

With input from Reuters