Pakistan allows Modi’ flight to use its airspace en route to US
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s plane before taking off for the US from New Delhi on September 22, 2021. (ANI Photo)
DESPITE its rocky relationship with India, Pakistan on Wednesday (22) gave nod to the flight of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi to use its airspace en route to the US where he will take part in a number of high-profile meetings besides attending the addressing the United Nations General Assembly.
A top source in the Indian government confirmed this to Asian News International news agency.
Islamabad’s latest stance marks a departure from its action on a number of occasions in the past when it denied permission to the flights of Modi and Indian president Ram Nath Kovind on a number of occasions following New Delhi’s decision to abrogate in 2019 Article 370 of the Indian Constitution that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
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That year, Pakistan issued a statement refusing to allow Modi’s flight “in view of the situation in (Jammu and) Kashmir and India’s attitude, oppression and barbarity…and the violation of rights in the region”.
‘We have decided not to give permission to the Indian prime minister and we have conveyed this decision to the Indian High Commission,” Pakistan’s foreign ministry had said. India consequently approached the International Civil Aviation Organisation to lodge a protest against Pakistan.
According to government sources that ANI quoted, New Delhi had sought permission from Islamabad over using the Pakistani airspace by Modi’s flight. Islamabad agreed. This comes after India allowed Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan’s flight to use India’s airspace to visit Sri Lanka earlier this year.
In his latest visit to the US, Modi is being accompanied in his trip by national security advisor Ajit Doval, foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and other top officials. Modi will meet US president Joe Biden in person for the first time after the latter took charge of the White House in January besides leaders of other members of the Quad platform – Japan and Australia. He will also address the UN body on pressing issues like Covid-19 pandemic, terrorism, climate change, among others.
Modi’s flight would also avoid Afghanistan airspace as the country had shut its airspace for any commercial use following the return of the Taliban to power in Kabul in August.