Report: Dr M forced to take longer flight route during Pakistan visit

Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad walks with his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan upon his arrival at Nur Khan Base in Rawalpindi March 21, 2019. — AFP pic
Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad walks with his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan upon his arrival at Nur Khan Base in Rawalpindi March 21, 2019. — AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 26 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was apparently forced to take a longer flight route during his trip to Pakistan on March 21 after his original flight plan was rejected.

Malaysiakini reported that Pakistani newspaper News International first alleged that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had denied Dr Mahathir permission to fly over the country’s airspace.

The Pakistani newspaper said: “The permission was withdrawn at the last minute, forcing the Malaysian premier to take a much longer route over the Arabian Sea and cruise as far as Oman before returning to Islamabad.”

Malaysiakini then clarified with the High Commission of India in Malaysia, which referred them to a report by India-based ANI News, which suggested that it was Pakistan’s fault.

ANI, quoting Indian government sources, had claimed that it was Pakistan government that blocked Mahathir’s flight path.

ANI reported that said Islamabad has disallowed all flight paths entering the country via its neighbour.

“The truth is that Pakistan has blocked its own airspace from flights which are overflying India.

“Therefore, even though the directorate general of civil aviation had given overflight clearance to Malaysian prime minister’s flight, it had to take a longer route because Pakistan denied permission.

“It is strange that even for their national day guest from Malaysia, Pakistan could not make an exception, thereby resulting in a longer flight by Malaysian prime minister,” the official was quoted as saying.

India and Pakistan have imposed restrictions on each other following the escalation of tensions in Kashmir, a territory disputed by both countries.