IAF removes post-Balakot restrictions on airspace

The IAF tweeted on Friday evening, 'Temporary restrictions on all air routes in the Indian airspace… have been removed.'

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New Delhi: In a signal to Pakistan to open its airspace for commercial airlines, Indian Air Force (IAF) has announced that all temporary restrictions imposed on Indian airspace post-Balakot airstrike have been removed.

Earlier this week, Pakistan civil aviation authorities had extended the closure of its airspace till 14 June.

Pakistan had fully closed its airspace on 27 February after an Indian Air Force strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camp in Balakot. Pakistan opened its airspace for all flights except for New Delhi, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur on 27 March.

The IAF tweeted on Friday evening, “Temporary restrictions on all air routes in the Indian airspace, imposed by the Indian Air Force on 27 Feb 19, have been removed.”

Pakistan had given special permission to India for then External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to fly directly through Pakistani airspace to attend the SCO meet in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on 21 May. However, the airspace for other commercial airliners remains closed.

As a result of the ban, foreign carriers using Indian airspace have been forced to take costly detours because they cannot fly over Pakistan. The closure mainly affects flights from Europe to Southeast Asia. The flights from Europe and the US flying in and out of New Delhi have been the worst hit.

Thousands of travellers suffer flight cancellations, delays and soaring ticket prices due to Pakistan’s decision to close its airspace for flights to and from India.

Pakistani security officials had also blocked the media from visiting the hill where the Jaish-e-Mohammed seminary is located, which the IAF had hit with missiles. And yet, they couldn’t stop an Italian journalist from reporting that 170 JeM terrorists had been killed due to the airstrike of IAF on Balakot, Pakistan, on 26 February. According to the journalist, despite its attempts, the Pakistan government and its Army could not hide the truth about the loss. In a report published last month on a news site Stringer Asia, Italian journalist Francesca Marino said that 45 terrorists injured in the attack were still being treated.