PM Modi's plane will fly via Oman and Iran to reach Bishkek. (File Photo)
India has decided that it will not use Pakistani airspace for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s travel to Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek for SCO Summit. In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs said that, “India won't use Pakistan airspace for PM's flight to Bishkek. "A decision has now been taken that the VVIP Aircraft will fly via Oman, Iran and Central Asian countries on the way to Bishkek." The Modi government had earlier sought permission for use of Pakistan airspace
This comes days after Pakistan said that the Imran Khan government agreed in principle to let Prime Minister Narendra Modi's aircraft fly over its airspace to Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan. Modi is travelling to Bishkek where he will attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit on June 13-14, where his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan would also be present. It should be noted that 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.
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.