Modi will not overfly Pakistan to attend SCO summit






Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not take the Pakistani air space for flying to the SCO summit in Bishkek in Kyrgystan later this week and instead will fly by the circuitous route through Oman and Iran.

“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,” a statement by the External Affairs Ministry said on Wednesday.

Last week, India had requested Pakistan to let Modi’s aircraft fly over its airspace to the Kyrgyzstan capital to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit scheduled to be held on June 13-14.

Pakistan had fully shut its airspace on the eastern border with India after an Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out aerial airstrikes on a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camp in Balakot on February 26. Since then, it has only opened two of eleven routes; both of them pass through southern Pakistan.

However, Pakistan had taken an in principle decision on India’s request to allow Modi’s plane to fly over its air space making an exception. Former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had travelled to SCO ministerial meeting in Bishkek last month end before election results were announced by over flying the Pakistani air space, for which permission granted by Islamabad.

After reports of India making a request for Modi, there were some experts, including former a former diplomat, who had said the prime minister should not take the Pakistani route since it would show the country in a poor light–that it cannot bear the pain of hard decisions it takes.

The MEA had said that Prime Minister Modi will hold bilateral talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin but no formal meetings have been schedule with Khan yet.

Earlier, Khan had reportedly written a letter to his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, saying Islamabad wants dialogue with New Delhi to resolve all outstanding issues between the two countries.

Khan had called Prime Minister Modi to congratulate him on his victory and expressed willingness to work together for peace in South Asia.

Pakistan lies in the middle of a vital aviation corridor whereby the airspace restrictions, which have been continuing since a long time, impacts hundreds of commercial flights each day, extending flight timings for passengers, as well as fuel costs for airlines.

On May 29, Pakistan had extended the ban on India using its airspace for commercial flights till June 14.

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