News Desk |
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday used Pakistani airspace for the first time after February’s botched Balakot strike by the Indian Air Force. The Indian premier is on a state visit to France, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain from August 22 to August 26.
The flight carrying Modi, call sign Air India One (AI-1), used Pakistani airspace while en route to France from New Delhi. The objective of the visit, according to the Indian premier, was to strengthen ties with the time-tested friends and help explore new areas of cooperation.
From 22nd to 26th August, I would be visiting France, UAE and Bahrain. These visits will strengthen India’s relations with time-tested friends and help explore new areas of cooperation.
Sharing more details about the visits. https://t.co/kwguAyEtAL
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 22, 2019
PM Modi is also scheduled to address the Indian community in France on Friday and will inaugurate a memorial for victims of an Air India crash several decades ago. He will then depart for UAE, visit Bahrain on Saturday and return to France for the G7 Summit on Sunday.
“The bilateral visit to France and the invitation to G7 Summit are in keeping with the tradition of strong and close partnership and high-level political contacts between India and France,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.
The airspace had been shut following the airstrikes by the Indian Air Force (IAF) on February 26. IAF later claimed to have had terror camps in Pakistan’s Balakot area, following the February Pulwama attack. These claims were later proven to be false. In the aftermath, two Indian fighter jets who crossed into Pakistani airspace were shot down. Pakistan also captured one of the Indian pilots, Abhinandan, who was later released and allowed safe passage back to India via Wagah Border.
In June, Modi refused to fly through Pakistani airspace during a trip to Bishkek for the SCO Summit, even though Pakistan granted India permission and opened its airspace as a goodwill gesture.