India shames Imran, refuses to use Pak airspace for Modi's aircraft

PM Modi-Imran Khan

New Delhi, June 12: In a snub to Islamabad, India on Wednesday made it clear that Prime Minister Narendra Modis special plane will bypass Pakistan en route to Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan where he is going to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit on Thursday.

External Affairs Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said that the VVIP aircraft will fly via Oman, Iran and the Central Asian countries on way to Bishkek. 

"Government of India had explored two options for the route to be taken by the VVIP Aircraft to Bishkek for the SCO Summit. A decision has now been taken that the VVIP Aircraft will fly via Oman, Iran and Central Asian countries on the way to Bishkek," he said.

The decision is a clear snub to Pakistan, which on Monday had reportedly said that it has decided "in principle" to allow the Indian Prime Minister's plane to fly over its airspace for the flight to Bishkek.

After India carried out air strike at Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terror camp in Balakot on February 26, Pakistan had fully closed its airspace but lately opened two routes, which pass through southern parts of the country.

Earlier, Pakistan decided in principle to let Prime Minister Narendra Modi's aircraft fly over its airspace to Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan where he has to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit on June 13-14, where his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan would also be present.

Pakistan had fully closed its airspace on February 26 after an Indian Air Force (IAF) strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camp in Balakot. Since then, it has only opened two routes, both of them pass through southern Pakistan, of the total 11.

India requested Pakistan to let Prime Minister Modi's aircraft fly over its airspace to Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan.

The official confirmed to PTI that the Imran Khan government has approved in principle the Indian government's request to let Prime Minister Modi's aircraft fly over the Pakistani airspace to Bishkek.

"The Indian government will be conveyed about the decision once the procedural formalities are completed. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will also be directed to notify the airmen subsequently," the official said, adding Pakistan was hopeful that India would respond to its offer for peace dialogue.

He said Prime Minister Khan has recently written a letter to his Indian counterpart stressing Pakistan requires a solution for all geopolitical issues including Kashmir between the two neighbouring states.

The official further said Pakistan is still optimistic that India will respond to peace offer despite the fact both premiers were not meeting at the sidelines of the SCO Summit.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar in New Delhi said no bilateral meeting has been arranged between Prime Minister Modi and his Pakistani counterpart on the sidelines of the SCO Summit.

Pakistan had given special permission to India's then external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj to fly directly through Pakistani airspace to attend the SCO Foreign Ministers' meet in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on May 21.

Apart from the two routes through southern Pakistan, the neighbouring country's airspace remains closed for commercial airliners.

The IAF announced on May 31 that all temporary restrictions imposed on Indian airspace post the Balakot airstrike have been removed.

However, it is unlikely to benefit any commercial airliners unless Pakistan reciprocates and opens its complete airspace.

Agencies

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