A day before leaving for Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan to attend the SCO Summit, India on Wednesday decided that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aircraft will not fly through Pakistan to reach the Central Asian nation which is the host chair of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation 2019.
In response to media queries regarding the route to be taken by VVIP Aircraft of the Indian premier to Bishkek, an official spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar 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.”
Indian students in Bishkek, who are victims to the shutdown by Pakistan, have welcomed the decision by Prime Minister Modi. They have had to shell out more money in the recent past for tickets and many didn’t go home during vacations because of the unaffordability of ticket prices.
Wasim, a medical student said, “PM Modi is thinking that when Indian students here are suffering because of this decision by Pakistan, then why should he take that route. He is against VIP culture and why should one individual get a concession. There are so many Indian students here who are waiting to go home. It is a good decision by Modi ji.”
Another medical student expressed disappointment in Pakistan’s stand. Farman said, “It is disappointing that airspace has still not been opened. It is absolutely a wrong decision by Pakistan and now I don’t think they will reverse their decision after PM Modi’s announcement.”
On June 8, there were reports in Pakistani media that India had sought permission from Pakistan for PM Modi’s plane to use its airspace to travel to Bishkek. It was not confirmed by Indian authorities.
Underplaying the developments, Gitesh Sarma, secretary (west), remained evasive and said, “It is difficult for us to discuss technical details of PM’s flight to Bishkek for SCO.”
There was massive outrage leading up to the decision taken by PM Modi administration. There are many Indians, especially students who are suffering because of the shutdown.
On June 12, Pakistan gave its clearance to India for the prime minister’s flight. But, later that day, India announced alternative options that it was looking at.
This has been a matter of grave concern and affected Indians want PM Modi to raise the matter at the SCO meet and with Pakistan to bring about a solution to a problem that could continue to disrupt lives.
“Things have been really good until recently when we started facing problems in going back to India because of the airspace being closed by Pakistan. We were hoping that prime minister will take it up at the SCO summit,” said Rehman another medical student in Bishkek.
Interestingly, Pakistan recently opened its airspace for then External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj when she had to travel to Bishkek for the foreign ministers meet. The airspace has been shut since the Balakot strikes.
There are about 9,000 Indian students in the Kyrgyz Republic alone and many more in other central asian nations who are affected by the acrimony between India and Pakistan.