ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan is considering a complete closure of airspace to India and blocking Indian land trade to Afghanistan via Pakistan, the minister for science and technology said on Twitter.
“PM is considering a complete closure of Air Space to India, a complete ban on use of Pakistan Land routes for Indian trade to Afghanistan was also suggested in cabinet meeting, legal formalities for these decisions are under consideration … #Modi has started we’ll finish!,” Fawad Chaudhry wrote.
The tweet gave no more details on why Pakistan would be considering the moves against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government now.
Pakistan had reopened its airspace in mid-July after a nearly four month closure imposed in February after an attack by a Pakistan-based militant group in Indian-controlled Kashmir led to clashes between the nuclear-armed neighbours.
Each country carried out air strikes on the other’s territory and warplanes fought a dogfight above the disputed Kashmir region in which an Indian fighter jet was shot down.
The months of restrictions forced long detours that cost airlines millions of dollars.
Modi’s surprise move this month to withdraw the special privileges of Kashmir has also increased tension with Pakistan.
Budget deficit widens
Pakistan’s budget deficit widened to 8.9 per cent of gross domestic product in the financial year that ended in June, according to data on Tuesday that underlines the severe economic crisis facing the country.
The deficit size compared with a 7.1 per cent estimate Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government gave in June and with 6.6 per cent during the year that ended in June 2018.
Pakistan, which in July sealed a $6 billion loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund, has been struggling to avert a balance of payments crisis and to prevent its debt from spiralling out of control.
The full-year’s deficit figure was released on the finance ministry website. Revenue during the year ended on June 30 equalled 12.7 per cent of GDP, a fall from the previous financial year’s 15.2 per cent.
The figures showed government expenditure at 21.6 per cent of GDP in the latest financial year, compared with 21.8 per cent a year earlier.
Pakistan has a notoriously narrow tax base, with fewer than 1 per cent of its 208 million people filing income tax returns. There is a vast informal economy and several key sectors of the official economy are largely exempt from tax.
The budget for 2019-20, passed in June, approved measures designed to cut the deficit by bringing into government coffers the equivalent of 1.7 per cent of GDP. Pakistan has promised a multiyear effort to overhaul its tax and budget system to put its weak public finances on a firmer footing. — Reuters