NEW DELHI: India has requested Pakistan for permission to allow Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aircraft to fly over its airspace to Kyrgyzstan where he is to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit on June 13 and 14, a person familiar with the matter said on Sunday.
The move follows Pakistan closing its airspace completely after Indian Air Force jets struck a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot region on 26 February. Since then, Islamabad has only opened two routes, both of them pass through southern Pakistan, of the total 11, a PTI report said on Sunday. Previously, Pakistan had allowed a special aircraft carrying then Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj to use its airspace to fly to Bishkek where she attended the SCO foreign ministers’ meet. Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi also attended the SCO foreign ministers’ meeting.
“We have asked Pakistan for permission to allow Prime Minister Modi’s aircraft to use Pakistani airspace when he flies to Bishkek for the SCO meet on 13-14 June,” the person cited above said. Ties between India and Pakistan have been tense since the 14 February Pulwama attack in which 40 Indian paramilitary personnel were killed. India struck the Balakot camp which prompted a retaliation from Pakistan on 27 February. Pakistan targeted Indian military installations in Kashmir but Indian Air Force scrambled its jets, foiling the Pakistani raid. Pakistan later shot down an Indian Air Force jet and captured its pilot. The pilot was handed back to India on March 1.
According to the PTI report, India had on May 31 removed all restrictions imposed on Indian airspace after the Balakot airstrike.
Among Indian airlines, the international operations of Air India and IndiGo have been affected by the closure of Pakistani airspace. Air India has been unable to fly non-stop flights from Delhi to the US since the closure of Pakistani airspace, the report said.