New Delhi: As Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on way to his 5-day visit to United Nations, where he will address the UN General Assembly and attend the Quad Summit, his non-stop flight to the Washington will reportedly fly over Pakistan’s airspace on Wednesday to avoid Afghanistan, a top government sources told media. This comes as a departure from the previous occasions when Pakistan denied the permission of President Ram Nath Kovind and PM Modi at least thrice following India’s abrogation of Article 370 in 2019.
A high-level delegation including National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and top government officials are accompanying PM Modi to the US. Islamabad also denied permission when PM Modi was visiting the US and Germany and President Kovind was visiting Iceland.
According to government sources, India had sought permission from Pakistan regarding the usage of Pakistan’s airspace for Prime Minister Modi’s flight to the US, for which a nod was given by Islamabad. This comes after India permitted Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s flight to use India’s airspace when he was travelling to Sri Lanka.
When did this airspace ‘ban’ come into force?
In 2019, Pakistan had issued a statement refusing to allow PM 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 foreign ministry had said in a statement in 2019.
After that, India registered a protest against Pakistan with International Civil Aviation Organisation on the denial.
PM Modi’s plane also decided to avoid Afghanistan airspace as the country had closed its airspace for any commercial use.
In a statement just before leaving for the US, Modi said he will conclude his visit with an address at the United Nations General Assembly focusing on the pressing global challenges including the Covid-19 pandemic, the need to combat terrorism, climate change and other important issues.
“I will be visiting the USA from 22-25 September 2021 at the invitation of His Excellency President Joe Biden of the United States of America. During my visit, I will review the India-US Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership with President Biden and exchange views on regional and global issues of mutual interest,” the prime minister said.