In a major development, Pakistan has opened its air-space ahead of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit as per the request of the Indian side for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to travel to Kyrgyzstan, as per sources.
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 requested Pakistan to let Prime Minister Modi's aircraft fly over its airspace to Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan.
On June 1, all temporary restrictions imposed on air routes over India's airspace after the Balakot air strike was also removed, the Air Force said. The move came immediately after Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his second term in office.
However, in the weekly press briefing by the Official Spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs, Raveesh Kumar ruled out the speculations of any meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan PM Imran Khan on the sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a letter to PM Narendra Modi, on Friday said that Islamabad wants talks with New Delhi to resolve all reconcilable problems, including the Kashmir issue, according to a media report, a day after India said there will be no bilateral meeting between the two leaders on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. In a letter to Narendra Modi congratulating him on his second term as the Prime Minister of India, Imran Khan said talks between the two nations were the only solution to help both countries' people overcome poverty and that it was important to work together for regional development, the Geo TV reported.
The official confirmed to PTI that the Imran Khan government has approved in principle the Indian government's request to let Prime Minister Modi's aircraft fly over the Pakistani airspace to Bishkek.
"The Indian government will be conveyed about the decision once the procedural formalities are completed. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will also be directed to notify the airmen subsequently," the official said, adding Pakistan was hopeful that India would respond to its offer for peace dialogue.
Tensions between the two countries worsened after the Pulwama terror attack and both the countries were almost on the brink of war after India's military planes struck a terrorist training camp in Pakistan's Balakot on February 26 and Pakistan carried out a counter-offensive the next day.
On May 26, breaking the ice in bilateral ties, Imran Khan spoke to Narendra Modi congratulating him on the massive electoral victory in the general elections and expressing his desire to work with him towards the advancing the objective of peace, progress, and prosperity in South Asia. Narendra Modi on his part called for creating trust and an environment free of violence and terrorism for fostering peace and prosperity in the region. India has rejected Pakistan's offer of talks, maintaining that terror and talks cannot go together.
Earlier, Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi also wrote to his new Indian counterpart S Jaishankar, saying that Islamabad wants talks with New Delhi on "all important matters" and remains committed to efforts for establishing peace in the region. Shah Mehmood Qureshi told S Jaishankar in the letter that "Islamabad wants talks with New Delhi on all important matters and remains committed to efforts for establishing peace in the region," Pakistani media reported quoting diplomatic sources.
(with inputs from PTI)