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PM Modi not to fly over Pak airspace for SCO summit; plane to travel via Oman, Iran and central Asian countries

PM Narendra Modi. Photograph:( ANI )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Jun 12, 2019, 02.11 PM (IST) Written By: Sidhant Sibal

PM Modi won't be flying over Pakistan airspace while visiting Kyrgyzstan for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation(SCO) summit.

An official spokesman said: "The government 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."

Pakistan had decided in principle to let PM Modi's aircraft to fly over its airspace to Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan. Air India has confirmed that the route taken by PM Modi's plane does not cross over Pakistan airspace anywhere.

The summit will take place on Thursday and Friday. Pakistan PM Imran Khan will also be present at the summit, however, PM Modi and PM Imran Khan are not set to meet.

Indians, Afghans getting affected

This comes even as many Indians face daily trouble to come back to India. The airspace closure is also impacting thousands of Indian students in Kyrgyzstan. As many as 4,500 Indian students are there in Kyrgyzstan. Indian are now paying extra and also bearing the brunt of longer flights top come to India. 

Not just Indians, many Afghans who wanted to visit family members in India or come for health checkups are also facing problems. 

The time and cost for Kabul-New Delhi flight have increased substantially. A Delhi to Kabul flight that used to take less than 2 hours earlier now takes more than five hours just because it now has to go via Iran.

Watch: PM Modi's tough stand against terror, no meet with Imran Khan

Pakistan had fully closed its airspace on February 26 after an Indian Air Force (IAF) strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camp in Balakot. Since then, it has only opened two routes, both of them pass through southern Pakistan, of the total 11.

India had earlier requested Pakistan to let Prime Minister Modi's aircraft fly over its airspace to Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan. 

Pakistan had given special permission to India's then external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj to fly directly through Pakistani airspace to attend the SCO Foreign Ministers' meet in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on May 21 last year.