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After PM Modi Chooses Oman Route to Bishkek, Pakistan Opens Airspace as 'Goodwill Gesture'

Pakistan's Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said in a statement that Prime Minister Imran Khan after holding consultations with all stakeholders directed to open the airspace for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's flight.

PTI

Updated:June 12, 2019, 11:30 PM IST
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After PM Modi Chooses Oman Route to Bishkek, Pakistan Opens Airspace as 'Goodwill Gesture'
File photo of Prime MInister Narendra Modi.
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Islamabad: Pakistan on Wednesday said it will "specially" open its airspace for the flight of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Bishkek to attend the SCO summit, even as India decided not to use the Pakistani airspace for the VVIP aircraft.

In New Delhi, the External Affairs Ministry said Prime Minister Modi's VVIP aircraft will fly over Oman, Iran and Central Asian countries to reach the Kyrgyz capital for the two-day Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit from Thursday.

Pakistan's Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said an application to seek opening of the airspace was received by the Aviation Division from the Indian High Commission on Monday.

The minister said in a statement that Prime Minister Imran Khan after holding consultations with all stakeholders directed to open the airspace for Prime Minister Modi's flight, state-run Radio Pakistan reported.

The aviation minister said the Pakistani airspace will be "specially" opened for Modi's overflight to Bishkek as a "goodwill gesture".

The airspace will be opened for a period of 72 hours during which Air India plane B 747-400 will fly to Bishkek from New Delhi on Thursday and will return the next day, the Radio Pakistan report said.

But India on Wednesday said it will not use the Pakistani airspace for Prime Minister Modi's flight to Bishkek.

"The government of India had explored two options for the route to be taken by the VVIP aircraft 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," MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

Prime Minister Khan is also attending the SCO summit in Bishkek leading to speculation that he and Modi may hold a meeting on the sidelines of the multilateral forum to ease the tensions in bilateral ties after the Pulwama terror attack.

However, on Monday, the MEA spokesperson said no such meeting has been arranged between the two leaders.

Last month, Pakistan had given special permission to the then external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj to fly through Pakistani airspace while travelling to Bishkek to attend a meeting of SCO foreign ministers.

Pakistan fully closed its airspace on February 26 after the Indian Air Force struck a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist training camp in Balakot.

Since then, it has only opened two routes, both of them pass through southern Pakistan, of the total 11. Pakistan's civil aviation authority is expected to review the situation on June 15.

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

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