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Friday, 28 December, 2001, 17:17 GMT
Pakistanis 'could be stuck in India'
Pakistani soldier
Tension between India and Pakistan worsens every day
By the BBC's Zaffar Abbas in Islamabad

Pakistan's national airline, PIA, has officially asked the Indian Government to allow it to increase the number of flights to India in the next three days.

The move is an attempt to evacuate its nationals before the imposition of the ban on using Indian air-space.

In a tit-for-tat action, India and then Pakistan on Thursday decided to ban the use of each other's air space from 1 January.

A spokesman for PIA said a large number of Pakistani nationals on a routine visit to India were finding it extremely difficult to return before the ban on the flights begins.

The spokesman said PIA was waiting for a response from the Indian authorities.

PIA has decided to use its wide-bodied aircraft for its regular flights in the next three days to evacuate a maximum number of Pakistani nationals from India.

The problem has been further compounded because of an earlier decision by the Indian Government to suspend the train and bus service between the two countries from the 1 January.

Big rush

It is not clear how many Pakistani and Indian nationals are visiting each other's countries at the moment.

Passengers at Wagah in Pakistan, bound for Delhi
Many are trying to travel before the train ban begins

But the PIA spokesman said the big rush for the booking of seats suggests that a large number of people would be affected if permission for an increase in the number of flights was not granted.

Commenting on the move by the two countries to ban the use of each other's air space, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said in Islamabad that only 23 Pakistani flights were going to be affected as against over 200 of the Indian airline.

However Pakistan has decided to suspend the operation of some of its flights for the Asian Pacific region following the ban on the national airline flying over Indian air space.

See also:

28 Dec 01 | South Asia
India-Pakistan buses close down
27 Dec 01 | South Asia
India and Pakistan crisis deepens
26 Dec 01 | South Asia
US adds pressure on Pakistan
24 Dec 01 | South Asia
Pakistan freezes militant funds
28 Dec 01 | UK Politics
UK urges Pakistan action on terror
08 Jan 99 | South Asia
India-Pakistan bus arrives
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