Indian PM Modi’s plane will not fly through Pakistani airspace: Indian Ministry

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not fly through Pakistani airspace on his way to Bishkek, despite the permission granted by the Pakistani government for using the airspace.

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The Indian PM will now use a circuitous route via Oman and Iran to reach the Kyrgyzstan capital, the Indian external affairs ministry said on Wednesday.

Pakistan has allowed a plane carrying Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to fly over its airspace, sources said earlier.

The plane will be taking Indian PM Modi to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Kyrgyzstan.

In a statement issued on the Indian media, the ministry said, “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.”

The statement aired after Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said the Pakistani airspace will be “specially” opened for Modi’s overflight to Bishkek as a “goodwill gesture”.

He said the Aviation Division had received a request from the Indian High Commission in Islamabad seeking permission for Modi’s plane to overfly Pakistan, adding, “Prime Minister Imran Khan after consulting all stakeholders directed that the airspace be opened [for Modi].”

Government sources said that despite India’s announcement to not use Pakistani airspace for the flight to Bishkek, the “factual position is that even for the route mentioned, his plane will use the Pakistani airspace”.

Sources further added that the southern route opted for by the Indian government is, in fact, one of the two that Pakistan had opened for the Indian prime minister’s flight.

The sources explained that Pakistan had opened two routes for Indian flights since March: the first for traffic from India to Europe/Central Asia and the second for traffic to India. The ‘from’ route is over the Arabian sea towards Karachi, Hingol, Gwadar and beyond while the ‘to’ route is over Karachi, Badin and into India.

The sources concluded that premier Modi’s plane will now use the Pakistani airspace from Karachi and Hingol to enter Oman and Iran via Gwadar and then Kyrgyzstan.

In May, Pakistan accepted India’s request to let Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj’s flight go over its airspace to attend the Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Bishkek.

Following accelerating tensions with India, Pakistan had closed its airspace in February.

The summit, which will be held from June 13-14,will also be attended by the Prime Minister Imran Khan.

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