Pakistan’s civil aviation authority has partially reopened airspace

The move is a sign that tensions with rival India are de-escalating

 Indian Border Security Force (BSF) soldiers patrol along the fence somewhere at the India-Pakistan border. Cross-border attacks continue. Photograph: Raminder Pal Singh/EPA

Indian Border Security Force (BSF) soldiers patrol along the fence somewhere at the India-Pakistan border. Cross-border attacks continue. Photograph: Raminder Pal Singh/EPA

 

Pakistan’s civil aviation authority has partially re-opened the country’s airspace, allowing travel to four major cities.

The move is another sign that tensions with rival India are de-escalating.

The agency issued a statement on Friday saying all domestic and international flights will be allowed to and from the cities of Karachi, Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta.

It says other airports, including the one located in the eastern city of Lahore that borders India, will remain closed until March 4th.

Islamabad closed its air space on Wednesday after saying that Pakistan’s military shot down two Indian warplanes and captured a pilot, escalating tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals.

The closures disrupted air traffic in the region.

The pilot is expected to be handed back to India later in the day, a move Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has said was a gesture of peace.

Intervention

Since the escalation, world leaders have scrambled to head off an all-out war on the Asian subcontinent.

US President Donald Trump in Hanoi on Thursday said he had been involved in seeking to de-escalate the conflict.

“I think hopefully that’s going to be coming to an end,” Mr Trump said, without elaborating.

“It’s been going on for a long time – decades and decades. There’s a lot of dislike, unfortunately, so we’ve been in the middle trying to help them both out, see if we can get some organisation and some peace, and I think probably that’s going to be happening.”

On Friday Saudi Arabia’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Adel al-Jubeir, is expected in Islamabad with a message from the kingdom’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Divided

Kashmir has been divided but claimed in its entirety by both India and Pakistan since almost immediately after the two countries’ creation in 1947. They have fought three wars, two directly over the disputed region.

This week’s violence marked the most serious escalation of the long-simmering conflict since 1999, when Pakistan’s military sent a ground force into Indian-controlled Kashmir at Kargil. – AP