NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be flying to Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting via Oman, Iran and Central Asian countries although Pakistan gave in-principle approval to overfly its territory, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Wednesday.
India had approached Pakistan to open its air space to Modi on Monday but changed its plans. The Pakistan air space has been closed ever since the Balakot reprisal strike on terrorist camps carried out by the IAF on February 26 following the Pulwama terrorist attack in which 40 CRPF jawans were killed.
Since then, it has opened only two routes out of 11, which pass through south Pakistan, though it had allowed former foreign minister Sushma Swaraj use of its airspace for the SCO foreign ministers meet last month.
MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, “India had explored two options for the route to be taken by the PM’s aircraft to Bishkek. It has been decided it would fly via Omani and Iran airspace, besides Central Asian countries to Kyrgyzstan.”
The Indian request to Islamabad also came after a week after Pakistan PM Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi wrote separate letters to their Indian counterparts pushing for a restart of bilateral talks. PM Modi, however, said creating trust and an environment free of terrorism was essential for fostering peace in the region.
The SCO meeting is the first after Imran Khan took charge in Pakistan and Modi swept back to power.