ISLAMABAD  -   Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday ‘shocked’ Pakistan by opting not to use its airspace after Islamabad allowed special permission for his flight to Kyrgyzstan.

Pakistan fumed at the decision and officials described it yet another evidence of ‘rude attitude’ by India.

“We had allowed the Indian PM to fly over Pakistan. They (India) ignored our goodwill gesture. We are really disappointed but this is their regular attitude. We are naturally shocked,” a senior official at the foreign ministry told The Nation.

He said that Pakistan cannot force India to use the airspace but was surprised after New Delhi’s decision. “They (India) have been ignoring our peace gestures for long. This is another example,” he maintained.

Pakistan had earlier granted Prime Minister Modi’s request to allow its plane to cross Pakistani airspace. The request was sent by the Indian government, asking the Pakistani government to allow the premier’s plane to cross through its airspace.

Pakistan had closed its airspace for Indian planes after an Indian fighter jet violated Pakistani airspace in February last.

The authorities said that Pakistani airspace would be closed from June 2 to 15 for transit as well as flight routes. The eastern side of Pakistan’s airspace was closed but the western side remained open. Around 70 per cent of the routes taken by commercial Indian planes used Pakistani airspace.

PM Modi is going to Kyrgyzstan’s Bishkek city where he will participate in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit on June 13. Last month, then Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was also granted permission to use Pakistani airspace. PM Imran Khan would also be in Bishkek for the SCO moot.

The Indian external affairs ministry said PM Modi will not use Pakistan’s airspace to travel to Bishkek. “The Government of India had explored two options for the route to be taken by the VVIP Aircraft to Bishkek. A decision has now been taken that the VVIP Aircraft will fly via Oman, Iran and Central Asian countries on the way to Bishkek,” the statement said.

Last week, Prime Minister Imran Khan urged Modi to realise the goal of peace in the region through “collective endeavours.” Foreign ministry officials said that “in line with established diplomatic norms and inter-state practice,” PM Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi addressed letters to PM Modi and Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, congratulating them on the assumption of offices.

“The letters underscored Pakistan’s consistent policy of peaceful neighbourhood and the vision of working for durable peace and stability in South Asia with peaceful resolution of all outstanding issues, including Kashmir dispute,” said an official.

The Pakistani leaders, in their letters, emphasised the need to work together, on the basis of mutual respect and trust, to address challenges faced by people of both the countries, including poverty and underdevelopment.

PM Khan and Modi will come across at the SCO Summit in Bishkek but no official meeting has been scheduled. The two leaders will only have a handshake at the Summit unless they spring a surprise to have a bilateral meeting.