http://www.firstpost.com/world/indi...-away-maldivian-political-crisis-2223566.html While the Modi government is busily engaged in helping the quake-hit Nepal, another South Asian neighbour has long been suffering due to a political shake up and has been seeking urgent Indian attention that it hasn't received. This neighbour is Maldives. Maldives has been in a tailspin since the 13 February arrest of its first and only democratically arrested President Mohamed Nasheed. Less than a month later he was convicted under terror charges and jailed for 13 years. Recent events tells us that India has misread the Maldivian conundrum completely and the strategically located small island state in the Indian Ocean has since been drifting away from the Indian influence. AP image The political goings-on in Maldives assume importance because of the fact that powers like China and Pakistan, perennially waiting in the Maldivian strategic space, are ever ready to fill in the vacuum at India’s expense. The Indian response to an unprecedented human tragedy in Nepal, triggered by a massive 7.9 Richter scale quake has indeed been phenomenal and cynosure of the global community, particularly China and Pakistan, who have lagged far behind. But a similar Indian effort is required in Maldives. Unfortunately, India has been lacking so far. No country can afford to come out openly in favour of any stakeholder and the response has to be muted, calibrated, well-thought and largely subterranean. Yet, the Maldivian situation is such that demands a more pro-active and an explicit response from a power like India, which has traditionally wielded strongest influence in Maldives. Unfortunately the Indian response in this context has left much to be desired. The few statements that have been issued by New Delhi are nothing out of the ordinary, consisting of cautious and even inane remarks which signify nothing in the ongoing struggle between former president Nasheed and the Yameen government. Nasheed’s party, the Maldives Democratic Party (MDP), has dropped clear hints of its exasperation with India. Nasheed’s top aide and a former foreign minister Ahmed Naseem, was to arrive in India last month to address a gathering at the leading Indian think tank Observer Research Foundation (ORF). In fact, the ORF had circulated the invites for the event but had to cancel the event at the eleventh hour. The real reason behind the event’s cancellation was that the MDP realized that the Indian government was just not interested in them. MDP sources said that they wanted to use this opportunity to meet with key Indian officials during this visit and when they realized that this wasn't going to happen, Naseem quietly cancelled his India visit and the MDP has started looking elsewhere for support like the European Union, the United States and the United Nations. It is notable that all the powers named above have far lesser clout in Maldives than India. The MDP leaders started pursuing these options only after they felt that were being cold-shouldered by India without any tangible explanation being offered. The MDP’s attempts to reach out to the US, UN and EU routes have produced results and all these three have increased the pressure on the Yameen government to render justice to the incarcerated Nasheed. Nasheed's wife Laila Ali met United States Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington along with the MDP’s international legal team members, Amal Clooney and Jared Genser. The legal team raised the following defence: · Nasheed’s trial was politically motivated to remove him from office. · Nasheed was denied the presumption of innocence. · The court was biased because two judges submitted witness statements. · Nasheed was denied the right to counsel. · Nasheed was physically abused. The UN and the EU have come in to espouse the cause of Nasheed and the two powers have joined a growing international chorus of concern over Nasheed’s arrest and surprise trial on terrorism charges. On 24 February the UN urged “fairness and transparency in regards to the legal proceedings” against the former president. The Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jens Toyberg-Frandzen in a telephone conversation with Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon, “stressed the need for full respect for due process and transparency” in Nasheed’s trial. He also appealed to the government to allow peaceful political dissent and to engage with the opposition in the interest of long-term political stability in the Maldives. Just a few days ago, the European Parliament passed a strongly-worded resolution castigating the Yameen government for the manner in which former president Nasheed was being treated. It also decided to impose a travel ban on Maldives and freeze international assets belonging to members of the Maldivian government and their biggest supporters in the business community. The million dollar question in this backdrop is: Isn’t the Indian government scoring a self goal by maintaining silence over the Maldivian conundrum? Evidently, India is losing vital strategic space in Maldives by not doing enough in this strategically crucial Indian Ocean state.