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Pakistan may close airspace to India

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Prime Minister Imran Khan is considering closing airspace to India and halting Indian land trade to Afghanistan via Pakistan, Pakistan’s science and technology minister said on Thursday.

Pakistan reopened its airspace in mid-July after closing for nearly four months in February after an attack by a Pakistan-based militant group in India-controlled Kashmir sparked clashes between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

Tensions between the two sides escalated again this month when the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi abolished Kashmir’s special status, which prevented citizens from the rest of India from buying property or competing for government jobs there.

Protesters have since clashed with security forces in the disputed Himalayan region. The Pakistani military said on Tuesday shells fired by its Indian counterpart had killed a man and a girl.

“The prime minister is considering a total closure of airspace in front of India and a total ban on the use of Pakistani land routes for Indian trade to Afghanistan has also been proposed at a cabinet meeting,” Minister of Science and Technology Chaudhry said on Twitter.

Pakistani officials were not immediately available for comment.

After the February attack, both countries launched air strikes on each other’s territory and warplanes clashed over the disputed region of Kashmir, bringing down an Indian fighter jet.

The closure of airspace forced aircraft to take long air routes that cost airlines millions of dollars.

In a move to ease restrictions on the civilian population of Kashmir, the state government said on Tuesday it would reopen schools in some areas from Wednesday.

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