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Tue 16 Jul 2019 09:51 AM

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Pakistan reopens airspace to civilian traffic, ending months of flight restrictions

Pakistan closed its airspace completely after aerial dogfights in February ratcheted up tensions between Islamabad and New Delhi

Pakistan reopens airspace to civilian traffic, ending months of flight restrictions
The closure disrupted Indian flights headed west, forced Pakistan International Airlines to suspend some of its flights, and effectively closed off major international routes in and out of Islamabad and Lahore.

Pakistan on Tuesday fully reopened its airspace for all civilian traffic, ending months of restrictions affecting major international routes including from India after clashes between the nuclear-armed rivals brought them to the brink of war.

"With immediate effect Pakistan airspace is open for all type of civil traffic," the state-run Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said.

A CAA spokesman confirmed to AFP that the eastern airspace along the border with India had been reopened.

Pakistan closed its airspace completely after aerial dogfights in February ratcheted up tensions between Islamabad and New Delhi. It removed some restrictions a month later but kept constraints in place along its eastern border with India.

The closure disrupted Indian flights headed west, forced Pakistan International Airlines to suspend some of its flights, and effectively closed off major international routes in and out of Islamabad and Lahore, such as the Thai Airways route from Islamabad to Bangkok.

The crisis between the countries was first sparked by a suicide bombing in Indian-administered Kashmir in February that killed 40 security personnel and was later claimed by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad.

Days later India responded with a cross-border air raid on Pakistan that kicked off a quick succession of attacks and dogfights between the arch-rivals over the disputed Kashmir frontier, spurring fears of all-out war.

Pakistani and Indian soldiers have continued to fire over the Line of Control, the de facto border dividing Kashmir, killing several civilians on both sides.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947.

Both claim the Himalayan territory in full and have fought two wars over it.

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