Five months after Balakot strikes, Pakistan finally opens airspace for Indian flights

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Published: July 16, 2019 5:05:49 PM

Pakistan authorities had also given permission to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flight to fly over its airspace when he had to attend the SCO Summit.

According to him the opening of the airspace and Kartarpur Saheb corridor talks is a good Confidence Building Measure (CBM) even though it should have been warranted by business sense. (PC: Reuters)

Neighbouring Pakistan finally opened its airspace for civilian flights after keeping it shutdown for nearly five months in the wake of military escalation with India.

After the Balakot airstrike in February this year, Pakistan had shut down the airspace completely for all the international flights which were either exiting or entering India from the East.

Early Tuesday morning, the Pakistan authorities in a notice to their airmen (NOTAMS) published on their Civil Aviation Authority (CAA’s) website, announced the opening the airspace for all types of civil air traffic on published Air Traffic Service routes.

The opening of the airspace comes close on the heels of a successful round of talks on the Kartarpur Saheb corridor that took place at Wagah on Sunday where the two sides discussed at length various issues related to the project.

Reacting to the news of the airspace being re-opened, former ambassador Anil Trigunayat said that Pakistan has done the right thing by opening its air space in response to India’s demarche.

“Indian Air Force and Indian Army are there to protect the country in peacetime and no threat to others until the situation warrants. It will also help them as Pakistan airlines had stopped operations on some routes due to Indian airspace closure” explained Trigunayat.

According to him the opening of the airspace and Kartarpur Saheb corridor talks is a good Confidence Building Measure (CBM) even though it should have been warranted by business sense.

It may be recalled that Pakistan had for a brief time opened the air space partially in March but was closed for all Indian flights which had resulted in the diversion of both domestic and international flights. And had allowed former external Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s flight to go via its airspace on her way to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan for participating in the foreign ministers meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) earlier this summer.

Pakistan authorities had also given permission to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flight to fly over its airspace when he had to attend the SCO Summit. However, Modi flew via Muscat Oman, Iran, and other CIS countries to reach Kyrgyzstan.

The neighboring country earlier this year had taken this step after the Indian Air Force launched a Balakot airstrike which was in response to the February 14 suicide bombing in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district. India had lost 42 CRPF men. That attack was carried out by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror group.

Last week, Pakistan had insisted that India first deescalates and removes the fighter aircraft facing that country before the airspace was reopened.

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