INDIA - MALDIVES Relations

kunal1123

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Maldives slipped out of India's grip? China steals another ally?
5-6 minutes
Diplomatic script seems to have changed between India and Maldives in two years. Maldives had plunged into a severe water crisis exactly two years ago following a massive fire that burnt the generator of its largest water treatment plant in capital Male.

On the wintry night of December 2015, the then Maldives foreign minister Dunya Maumoon made frantic calls to several of her counterparts including India, USA, Sri Lanka and China requesting them to rescue the country from acute water crisis.


About 1.5 lakh residents of Male had gone waterless and crowds become restive standing in queues for potable water.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj received the distress call around 10 pm. By early morning, the Indian Air Force had landed five planeloads of drinking water in Male. A huge turmoil was averted.

CHINA'S DIPLOMATIC BURGLARY

Two winters later, Maldives approved of a Free Trade Agreement with China in total stealth. The negotiations were being held since 2014 between China and Maldives.

On November 29, President Abdulla Yameen's government brought a Bill in Maldives' Majlis (parliament), which approved it at midnight. The approval was given even without having requisite majority in the 85-member Majlis.

Only 33 ruling coalition members were present in Majlis while the Opposition cried foul saying it got less than 10 minutes to read and debate 1000-plus pages of the draft.

A week later, on December 7 - when Indian government was focused on Nepal parliamentary elections - Maldives President Yameen signed the FTA with China on his maiden visit to Beijing. Indian establishment was so much surprised with the move that it took about a week before it could air its concerns over the matter.

India was among the first to recognise Maldives after its independence in 1965 and to establish diplomatic relations with the country. India established its mission at Male in 1972. India has quelled a few rebellions against the ruling coalitions in Male.


However, Yameen administration seems to be giving preference to China over India. Recently, Maldives fisheries minister Mohamed Shainee, during his Colombo visit, expressed unhappiness over the way FTA with India has worked. Under such circumstances, China did a sort of diplomatic coup in Maldives by getting it sign FTA without India having faintest of idea.
WHY SHOULD INDIA BE CONCERNED ?

Maldives is the second country in India's neighbourhood where China has been successful in showing its economic muscle. After Pakistan, Maldives is second country to have signed FTA with China.

China has been aggressively pushing for FTA with all the neighbours of India. Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are on the Chinese list.

Nepal has now elected a pro-Chinese Left bloc government. Parliamentary elections are due in Bangladesh in about a year's time when pro-India Sheikh Hasina will be fighting to beat two-term anti-incumbency against anti-India Khalida Zia's party.


In Sri Lanka, China has increased its strategic stake by acquiring Hambantotal port on lease for 99 years. With its Belt and Road Initiative, China is further ramping up its economic ties with South Asian countries. Its massive economy seems to be dictating the new terms of engagement.
CHINA REIGNS SUPREME IN MALDIVES ::

China already has elbowed India out on two major infrastructure projects. Yameen government preferred China to India in giving contracts for development of till uninhabited island Hulhule, USD 400 million international airport porject and another for building "Friendhsip Bridge" connecting it to capital Male.

China has significant presence at Gwadar port in Pakistan and opened its military base in Djibouti only recently. Though Yameen has stated that Maldives will remain a demilitarised zone, China may push for docking facilities for its naval ships on the islands to meet services requirements at Hambantota, Djibouti and Gwadar. In August, three Chinese ships docked at harbour in Male as "goodwill visit".

Tourism and fisheries export are the two main constituents of about USD 3 billion economy of Maldives. China has emerged as the largest importer products from Maldives. Chinese imports from Maldives stood at USD 360 million in 2016.

With FTA, Maldives expects to increase the volume and worth of exports to China. Further, Beijing sends the maximum number of tourists to Maldives. The Chinese travelers are encouraged by Beijing to visit Maldives giving a boost to the booming industry of the island nation.

With China going aggressive in India neighbourhood flexing its military as well as economic muscle, New Delhi is bound to be concerned even if Indo-Maldives joint military exercise, Ekuverin (meaning friends) begins tomorrow at Belagavi in Karnataka.
 

AMCA

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Maldives President Yameen Abdul Gayoom addressing the nation in Male, Maldives.File Photo. (Photo: AP)

Opinion
Restricting Movement, Maldives Makes Indian Envoy A Caged Parrot
By Rajeev Sharma
December 22, 2017 at 4:32 PM
It’s confirmed now – the government of Maldives, headed by President Yameen Abdul Gayoom, has restricted the movements of Indian High Commissioner in Maldives, Akhilesh Mishra.

Maldives’ Local Government Authority had issued an order on 11 December, saying that “all” foreign diplomats posted in Maldives would henceforth require a prior approval of the home ministry before meeting any Maldivian official. The new diktat also includes government servants, parliamentarians and local councillors in its scope and ambit.

The LGA circular said it had seen an increase in councillors meeting foreign diplomats and officials from international organisations, noted that all powers relating to foreign policy were vested in the presidency by the constitution, and ordered councillors to seek written permission for such meetings from the home ministry through the LGA.
Here is a copy of the two-pronged LGA order in Dwivehi tweeted by Fuad, one of the three Maldivian councillors who were suspended for meeting Indian envoy Akhilesh Mishra on 11 December.

Also Read: Another Setback for Indian Foreign Policy, This Time From Maldives


When this order was passed, Akhilesh Mishra was touring the Gaafu Alifu atoll and had already begun his meeting with the three councillors, all from the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). The three councillors were immediately suspended.

Interestingly, the British ambassador to Maldives, James Dauris, was also visiting the country, and was holding a meeting with another group of councillors in Thinadhoo in Gaafu Dhaalu atoll, but those councillors were never suspended and no action was taken against them.


Phone Lines of Indian Diplomats Compromised
Even more brazen is yet another provocative act by the Yameen government. It has passed an oral order instructing all officials, ministers, bureaucrats, diplomats and politicians of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) not to meet Akhilesh Mishra. This has severely restricted the movements of the Indian envoy and has made him virtually a caged parrot.
Another dismal development is that all landline phones of the Indian embassy in Male and mobile phones of all Indian diplomats, including Mishra, have been compromised. This is something unprecedented. No Maldivian government has dared to do this to India ever before.

In sharp contrast, there is no check on the movements of the Chinese envoy in Male. On the other hand, the Maldivian government is itself facilitating the Chinese envoy with all meetings and rolling out red carpet for him.

Maldives Lacks Interest from Other Foreign Envoys
There are no other foreign envoys who are interested in Maldives. The Pakistani envoy is on the verge of completing his tenure in Maldives. In any case, Pakistan has virtually not much presence in Maldives. Same is the case with Saudi Arabia, with whom the Yameen government has become extremely close. The Saudi envoy visits Maldives barely for a few days in a year and the Saudi embassy in Male is being run by their First Secretary.

Government sources, however, declined any knowledge of these developments, and described as “incorrect” the impression that the Indian envoy in Maldives is a “caged parrot”.
India has thus far refrained from any hawkish response with regard to developments in Maldives. However, this situation cannot go for very long and India can’t treat this as usual business any more. The Yameen government has crossed all limits and is playing a dangerous game if belittling India, enlarging Chinese strategic footprints in Maldives and created an India-versus-China situation in this hugely strategically important Indian Ocean country which also happens to be a member of SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation).

......

Where are our Kaoboys? Yameen Abdul gayoom needs to be eliminated.:shoot::shoot:




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Bornubus

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New Maldives under President Yameen

==========
 

kunal1123

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thequint.com
Restricting Movement, Maldives Makes Indian Envoy A Caged Parrot




Restricting Movement, Maldives Makes Indian Envoy A Caged Parrot

Maldives President Yameen Abdul Gayoom addressing the nation in Male, Maldives.File Photo. (Photo: AP)
It’s confirmed now – the government of Maldives, headed by President Yameen Abdul Gayoom, has restricted the movements of Indian High Commissioner in Maldives, Akhilesh Mishra.

Maldives’ Local Government Authority had issued an order on 11 December, saying that “all” foreign diplomats posted in Maldives would henceforth require a prior approval of the home ministry before meeting any Maldivian official. The new diktat also includes government servants, parliamentarians and local councillors in its scope and ambit.

The LGA circular said it had seen an increase in councillors meeting foreign diplomats and officials from international organisations, noted that all powers relating to foreign policy were vested in the presidency by the constitution, and ordered councillors to seek written permission for such meetings from the home ministry through the LGA.
Here is a copy of the two-pronged LGA order in Dwivehi tweeted by Fuad, one of the three Maldivian councillors who were suspended for meeting Indian envoy Akhilesh Mishra on 11 December.

When this order was passed, Akhilesh Mishra was touring the Gaafu Alifu atoll and had already begun his meeting with the three councillors, all from the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). The three councillors were immediately suspended.

Interestingly, the British ambassador to Maldives, James Dauris, was also visiting the country, and was holding a meeting with another group of councillors in Thinadhoo in Gaafu Dhaalu atoll, but those councillors were never suspended and no action was taken against them.

Phone Lines of Indian Diplomats Compromised
Even more brazen is yet another provocative act by the Yameen government. It has passed an oral order instructing all officials, ministers, bureaucrats, diplomats and politicians of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) not to meet Akhilesh Mishra. This has severely restricted the movements of the Indian envoy and has made him virtually a caged parrot.
Another dismal development is that all landline phones of the Indian embassy in Male and mobile phones of all Indian diplomats, including Mishra, have been compromised. This is something unprecedented. No Maldivian government has dared to do this to India ever before.

In sharp contrast, there is no check on the movements of the Chinese envoy in Male. On the other hand, the Maldivian government is itself facilitating the Chinese envoy with all meetings and rolling out red carpet for him.
Maldives Lacks Interest from Other Foreign Envoys
There are no other foreign envoys who are interested in Maldives. The Pakistani envoy is on the verge of completing his tenure in Maldives. In any case, Pakistan has virtually not much presence in Maldives. Same is the case with Saudi Arabia, with whom the Yameen government has become extremely close. The Saudi envoy visits Maldives barely for a few days in a year and the Saudi embassy in Male is being run by their First Secretary.

Government sources, however, declined any knowledge of these developments, and described as “incorrect” the impression that the Indian envoy in Maldives is a “caged parrot”.
India has thus far refrained from any hawkish response with regard to developments in Maldives. However, this situation cannot go for very long and India can’t treat this as usual business any more. The Yameen government has crossed all limits and is playing a dangerous game if belittling India, enlarging Chinese strategic footprints in Maldives and created an India-versus-China situation in this hugely strategically important Indian Ocean country which also happens to be a member of SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation).

(Rajeev Sharma is a strategic analyst and columnist who tweets @Kishkindha. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)
 

kunal1123

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timesofindia.indiatimes.com
Maldives: Anti-India editorial in Maldives paper sparks political row | India News
Sachin Parashar
3-4 minutes

A

pro-Abdulla Yameen
paper has kicked up a fresh political storm in

the Maldives
by describing in an editorial Indian PM

Narendra Modi
as a

Hindu
extremist who is also anti-Muslim. The editorial in the local Dhivehi language went on to describe India as the biggest enemy nation and said that a "new best friend'' be found for Maldives in China.

A unified opposition strongly protested against the "outrageous" article in the newspaper which, it said, had appeared in a mouthpiece of President Yameen and whose editorials were routinely approved by the President's office before publication.

The opposition led by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) believes this latest display of hostility should alert India about the dangers of overindulging the Yameen administration.

An MDP leader and former foreign minister of Maldives, Ahmed Naseem, told TOI that more robust Indian corrective measures will be in the interest of both India and the Maldives. "Appeasement with wishful thinking is not going to solve this crisis," said Naseem.

Exactly what India can do remains in the realm of speculation though with the Maldives' government bent on playing China against India in the strategically located archipelago in the Indian Ocean. The editorial in fact also accused India of plotting a coup against the Yameen government. It also accused India of acting against international law in Kashmir and of arming "Tamil terrorists" in Sri Lanka.


Opposition leaders like former presidents

Mohamed Nasheed
and Maumoon Abdul Gayoom came out strongly in support of India after the article was published. "I condemn the article...that brands India as an enemy of Maldives. Outrageous! No Maldivian in his right mind would subscribe to such views. India has been and remains a very close and trusted friend of Maldives,'' said Gayoom.


Nasheed also strongly condemned the "anti-India diatribe in regime mouthpiece''. "Prez YAG's reckless foreign policy is destroying our relationship with India. Maldives must be sensitive to India's security and safety," he said.


The Maldives remains the only country in the neighbourhood which Modi is yet to visit. Indian officials here seemed taken aback by the attack on the PM even though they avoided making any comment.


India had only last week reminded Male of its stated India First policy with the MEA spokesperson

Raveesh Kumar
saying that India expected Maldives to be sensitive to its concerns. This was after Male signed an FTA with China without taking the opposition into confidence and rushing it through the Parliamentary approval process. Days later, the government suspended 3 councillors for having an "unauthorised'' meeting with Indian ambassador Akhilesh Mishra.
 

aditya10r

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Operation cactus required.

__________________________________________
 

LordOfTheUnderworlds

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That tiny island nation in India's backyard has population of the size of one small indian town and we cant manage them. What kind of external intelligence agency do we have? Any other nation would have done ghar wapsi/reversion of entire population or made half the population disappear and annexed it long ago.
 

Bhumihar

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That tiny island nation in India's backyard has population of the size of one small indian town and we cant manage them. What kind of external intelligence agency do we have? Any other nation would have done ghar wapsi/reversion of entire population or made half the population disappear and annexed it long ago.
70 years of khngressi Nehruvian policy

 

Pinky Chaudhary

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That tiny island nation in India's backyard has population of the size of one small indian town and we cant manage them. What kind of external intelligence agency do we have? Any other nation would have done ghar wapsi/reversion of entire population or made half the population disappear and annexed it long ago.
Netao ko election ladne se fursat mile tab na....
 

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Use this thread for further discussions relating to Indo-Maldives news.
 

Compersion

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you have go also start at much more poignant beginning and that is removal of the absolute nonsense notion and fake plantation of the premises that madlives cannot be part of the republic of india and also it has to remain islamic.

have shared previously. it ought also to be more with direct flights from mumbai and new delhi and bangalore increasing. spice jet, indigo, even air asia, and the rest do they fly to maldives. you can have 1 person spend 100,000. you can have 50 people spend 100,000. the former is the dragon the latter is India and with more connections and branches and roots. the distance to maldives is not much from india and people spend more to reach goa. make it known to maldives not only dependence but it is profitable and enjoyable to be part of the republic of india.

the most crucial is the Election Commission of India. the Gujarat elections and more and it is the impetus. the Maldives have clearly not been able to run a functional democracy. the small nations that voted in UNGA many have titles like "free association" . many are like diego garcia. many are like guam. many are like Spratly Islands.

Sometimes links need to be made: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Associated_state

France has agreed to defend the independence and sovereignty of Monaco, while the Monegasque Government has agreed to exercise its sovereign rights in conformity with French interests, which was reaffirmed by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. - What is that and why.

Do we need to have a treaty what is understood and acknowledged by way of performance and delivery of the same through behavior and more. Perhaps it is why being part of the republic of india is needed now - we dont need knowledge we need action and preventative actions.
 

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I would also have such a link with our approach to Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives and them to be inter-linked and more. Each has its special demographics and more. The latter (Maldives) is the test model of the new model into SAARC, ASEAN, Africa and much much more hence the resources and capital ought to be much much much more. It ought to be a approach and reasoning that is led and developed from top to bottom.

There was time where we used to see airbases used for refueling that were anti-india for wrong purposes and support of ill intentions from the beneficiaries. non-interferance is fine but if it is being shown and demonstrated otherwise. obviously it must be done with coordination and with preparations and thought which we can and have. now it is more observant since we have to align with much more it is the righteousness of our approach that has to be developed and explained which is why the trust and formation of such has to be done and is worth doing and is needed for the region and the world and more. it is taking our leadership position. i feel maldives will be the spark and stimulant for much more. we will do it right and for good reasons. Jai Hind
 
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kunal1123

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idrw.org
India cautious over Maldives curbs on envoy
4-5 minutes


SOURCE: THE HINDU



New Delhi appears to be weighing diplomatic options after Male reportedly placed restrictions on the movement of the Indian Ambassador to the Maldives. Asked to comment on reports that travel restrictions had been imposed on the Indian High Commissioner, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs Raveesh Kumar said, “I don’t think this information is correct.”

According to reports, the Maldives’ Local Government Authority has mandated that foreign diplomats in Male obtain government approval before meeting any Maldivian official. The government suspended three members of a local body allegedly for meeting Indian Ambassador Akhilesh Mishra without permission.

However, Ibrahim H. Shihab, International Spokesperson at the President’s office, said the Indian envoy was a friend of the Maldives.

“The Maldives respects norms of diplomacy and diplomatic engagement and no diplomat posted to the Maldives by any country is restricted in their freedom of movement — anyone making such claims are severely misinformed,” he said.

However, instead of delving into the issue of restrictions on movement, the Mr Kumar MEA spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) of India during a briefing this week, indicated concerns around the recent Free Trade Agreement between Beijing and Male. “We are actually trying to understand the implications of this. It needs to be carefully studied. In such situations governments do engage in diplomatic discussions…,” he said., Spokesperson of the MEA.

Maldivian Ambassador to Colombo Mohamed Hussain Shareef said all diplomats had to follow the regulations laid down by the host foreign ministry and take due permission to travel across the country. The recent restriction was not directed at the Indian ambassador alone, he said, but a blanket reminder to all ambassadors.

? Responding to the regulations, the British, Australian and German envoys to the Maldives tweeted strongly against the development. Reiterating its commitment to “democracy, development and stability” in the Indian Ocean nation, New Delhi recently reminded the Maldives about its “India First” policy.

“A number of resident and non-resident ambassadors take the liberty of not informing the Foreign Ministry when they meet local officials. And some atolls seem to be getting a lot of love from resident and non-resident ambassadors, especially those where the local government is controlled by the opposition. That is bizarre.”

The development comes at a time when former President Mohammad Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), now in opposition, ?has been ?raising concern over Male’s ?foreign ?policy that it sees as being detrimental to India’s. ?The party accused the President Abdulla Yameen administration of rushing through an FTA with China, an allegation the government denied.

More recently, a local paper in the Maldives, said to be pro-government, sparked a controversy after it published an editorial that termed Prime Minister Narendra Modi “a Hindu extremist” who is “anti-Muslim”. The editorial, in the local Dhivehi language, also described India as the biggest enemy nation and that China was the country’s “new best friend”.

?The Opposition took serious objection and its leader Mr. Nasheed tweet?ed: “Strongly condemn anti-India diatribe in regime mouthpiece Vaguthu. Prez YAG’s reckless foreign policy is destroying our relationship with India. Maldives must be sensitive to India’s security and safety.”

Denying that the paper was pro-government, official sources said the editorial had been removed. “We are confident that the matter will be considered and appropriate actions taken — this speed of response is a clear indication that our regulators and institutions continue to function professionally,” said the spokesman at President Yameen’s office.
 

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Maldives reaches out to India, discusses high-level bilateral meet in bid to undo perceived snub


Amid growing concerns in New Delhi over an open display of hostility against India in the Maldives, Male seems to be finally reaching out to the Indian government. It is currently discussing a high-level bilateral visit from India which it hopes will help calm frayed nerves on both sides.

The modalities of the meeting are being worked out and the visit is expected to take place early next month.

Tensions seemed to have peaked last week after a pro-government newspaper described PM Narendra Modi as anti-Muslim and India as an enemy nation. President Abdulla Yameen has now denied that the editorial reflected his government's position in any way and called India the country's "closest friend" and ally.

While the Maldives recently signed an free trade agreement (FTA) with China, Yameen said his government was discussing the same pact with India. Indian officials believe the situation is really not as alarming as is being made out to be.

After the Maldives signed the FTA with China and rushed it through the parliamentary approval process, there were two other instances which were seen as a snub to India.

First, Male suspended three local councillors for having an unauthorised meeting with the Indian ambassador, Akhilesh Mishra, and second, the editorial in the pro-Yameen newspaper which, while describing India as an enemy, called for Male to find a new best friend in China.

In an official statement, though, Yameen reiterated that his administration would never entertain negative sentiments towards India, highlighting that Indian assistance formed an "invaluable contribution to the Maldives" — further adding that the government was currently working towards a free trade agreement between the Maldives and India'.

The statement also mentioned the FTA with China with Yameen saying that it would bring several opportunities to the country. India believes that even as the Maldives continues to court China, it won't affect the strategically located nation's ties with India or dilute in any way its officially stated India First policy.

After the China FTA, India had said it expected Male to be sensitive to its concerns. "We should look beyond these developments and we should have diplomatic discussions between the two sides to address any issue between the two countries," MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said.

India has also pointed to a tweet by Maldivian foreign minister Mohamed Asim earlier this month in which he had said that relations with India were time-tested and cooperation in several sectors. "We remain committed to further enhancing and strengthening existing ties," Asim had tweeted.
 

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Maldives, Nepal, sri lanka. The Cong is going to go to town and shout from the rooftops about the so called 'failure' of Indian diplomacy!

The question is, what would Cong have done differently? For example, could they have stopped the communists from winning elections in Nepal? Or ordered the Sri Lankans to deny the Chinese the contract to construct the Hambantota port? Or asked Maldives to not sign the FTA with the Chinese?
 

kunal1123

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Maldives: Drift, Intransigence, Implications
By Lt Gen Prakash Katoch
Issue Net Edition | Date : 20 Jan , 2018
There is plenty euphoria in the media about Maldives having “reset” the bilateral relations with India, Mohammed Asim, Maldivian Foreign Minister and Special Envoy of Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen’s on a visit to India reiterating Male’s ‘India First’ policy of attaching highest priority of ties with India, and reassuring expediting work on India’s development projects in Maldives. But diplomatic niceties apart, would Asim not use the same words visiting any other country, particularly of SAARC? Asim’s India visit is being hailed as Maldives effort to end the “chill” in India-Maldives relations. But there is need to examine why did the chill happen in the first place, why did it deepen, is there a thaw now and what of the future?

Located some 600 km off the southwest coast of India and 750 km southwest of Sri Lanka, Maldives consists of a double chain of 26 atolls and over 1000 uninhabited islands spread over 90,000 sq kms of territory, Maldives is vital to India’s maritime construct. Its geostrategic value lies in its location astride three of the most important SLOCs through which most of India’s trade and oil requirements pass, its proximity to India and Sri Lanka, and India’s enhanced strategic and commercial focus on Africa. India’s assistance to Maldives in thwarting a coup in 1988 is well known. Coast Guards of both countries exercise jointly (Sri Lankan Coast Guard also joining occasionally) for maritime search and rescue, anti-piracy operations, disaster relief, marine pollution response etc. There are many more areas of defence cooperation under a bilateral defence pact signed in 2009. Maldivian officers regularly undergo military training and various courses in India. Participating at an international seminar at US Pacific Command during 2011, Commander of the Maldivian Coast Guard stated that his country would welcome an international force in Maldives to thwart the growing menace of Somali pirates. Why India didn’t taken a lead in this context beyond two helicopters and weekly Dornier surveillance flight will remain a question.

Attracting over 90,000 tourists annually and with 34,000 foreign employees in resorts spread over 100 islands, Maldives is ideal setting for terror groups like LeT and Al Qaeda. Over 100 Maldivian youth fighting alongside ISIS was reported sometime back. In 2009, the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) were worried that youth from the country were going for terror training with LeT in Pakistan since past decade or so, something that our Embassy in Male was oblivious of. The MNDF also faced the problem that the 1000 plus islands of Maldives could not be physically patrolled and aerial surveillance was not effective due dense foliage. The systematic radicalization of Maldivian youth by the LeT (covert arm of Pakistan’s ISI) needed to be viewed in conjunction rise of the Kerala-headquarterd Popular Front of India (PFI) in South India, which as per our intelligence had links with Al Qaeda and LeT (read ISI) since early 2000.

The growing radicalization in Maldives was evident when extremists attacked the National Museum in Male in February 2013, and destroyed / damaged nearly 30 Buddhist collection of coral and lime figures, including a six-faced coral statue and a 1 1/2-foot-wide representation of the Buddha’s head. The statues were destroyed on the same day that Mohamed Nasheed, who won the presidency in 2008 in the country’s first democratic election, resigned his office. Nasheed was imprisoned. He is presently on prison leave in London, and has been calling for implementation of Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) recommendations; release of political prisoners, commencement of all-party discussions and the like. Abdulla Yameen who succeeded Nasheed as President enjoys radical support who India must deal with being government of the day.

India-Maldives relations came under strain after Male terminated its 2010 agreement with GMR for modernization of Ibrahim Nasir International Airport. Four years later, Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited all the SAARC nation heads to the swearing in of his government in May 2014, acknowledging the strategic significance of the Indian Ocean and its primacy for India’s security and for maintaining peace and stability in the region. Modi was to visit Maldives along with Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka in March 2015 but Maldives was shelved last minute because of political instability, arrest of President Nasheed on dubious grounds and CMAG contemplating placing Maldives on formal agenda over the arrest. Cancellation of Modi’s visit also postponed India setting up radar network (10 x Coastal Surveillance Radar Stations) across the Maldives linked with Indian military surveillance systems agreed under the 2009 bilateral defence pact.

On October 11, 2015, Maldives expressed hope that PM Narendra Modi would visit the country “very soon” as it admitted disappointment over his skipping the island nation on a tour to the region in March. In October 2015, EAM Sushma Swaraj did visit Maldives to co-chair the 5th meeting of the India-Maldives Joint Commission after a hiatus of 15 years to focus on cooperation in health, energy, defence sectors and other issues. Setting up of a joint business forum was also suggested by the Joint Commission. Bilateral meetings have progressed further but apparently no visit by PM Modi is being seen adversely by Maldives given the fact that Modi has visited some 50 countries since 2014. Even after the visit of President Yameen to India in April 2016, reciprocal visit by Modi was not announced. If we are awaiting return of ‘democracy’ in Maldives, that could take many years, if at all, viewed in the backdrop that China is increasingly active in domestic politics of South Asian countries and supports Yameen fully.

In September 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping became the first Chinese head of state to visit Maldives. Significantly, this was only the second meeting between Xi and Maldives President Abdulla Yameen, both having held talks just the previous month in Nanjing. During his visit, Xi secured Maldivian support for China’s ‘21st century maritime silk road’, the joint statement read, “The Maldives welcomes and supports the proposal put forward by China to build the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, and is prepared to actively participate in relevant cooperation. The two sides agreed to enhance cooperation in other areas, such as marine, economy, and security.” Two development projects in Maldives funded by China were jointly launched by the two Presidents. Yameen also secured Chinese support for an ambitious project to build a road bridge between central Male island and nearby Hululle island, where the international airport is located. China-Maldives relations have moved at a fast pace since then.

On November 29, 2017, the Yameen government pushed through its FTA with China in the Majlis (Maldives Parliament) despite much opposition. This was followed by Yameen’s state visit to China from December 6-9, 2017. The China-Maldives FTA is just only the second one that China has with a South Asian country, first one being with Pakistan, even as latter is discovering it benefits China much more. The FTA with Maldives actually will ‘only’ benefit China because Maldives will be flooded with Chinese goods without any duty while Maldives can only export fish. Maldives already owes 70% of its total external debt to China and China will extract strategic mileage in return to huge loans. Questions are being asked why Yameen has sold off the country’s sovereignty, but so has the military in Pakistan. If Pakistan has become a province of China, so will Maldives. Yameen’s gain will be the Chinese support in the November 2018 elections.

Maldives has become a popular destination for Chinese investment, especially in tourism. Chinese state-owned companies are reclaiming land, building resorts and roads as well as erecting housing to help expand the Maldivian tourist trade. According to Hu Zhiyong of Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences: this part of the Belt and Road Initiative so Maldives could be more involved in the initiative; China is promoting Maldives as a maritime pivot; Maldives could become supply base for Chinese military and civil vessels sailing on the Indian Ocean. Both China and Maldives deny plans of any Chinese base in Maldives, but such Chinese plans can be taken for granted – China being consistent liar. A simile is the joint China-Pakistan military base coming up in Jiwani (Pakistan) which both China and Pakistan deny.

With Maldives under Yameen drawn firmly into China’s gravitational pull, anti-India rhetoric from Maldives was expected. Last month, an editorial in Maldivian newspaper ‘Vaguthu’ urged Maldives to find a new ally on the international stage, the headline reading, “India is not a best friend, but an enemy”. The draft possibly came from China’s ‘Global Post’ that excels in threatening India periodically, or possibly China’s Foreign Ministry that wanted to indicate itself behind the euphuism “new ally”, not that China has not pocketed Maldives already. The newspaper couldn’t have dared to so write without government backing. This was followed by Maldivian government restrictions on Maldivian nationals for meeting the Indian Ambassador in Male after some opposition councilors had met him. The government suspended the concerned councilors for three months following the meeting. This, coupled with the arrest of many independent journalists during 2016 indicates the dictatorial length to which Yameen can go.

The situation today is that backed by China, Yameen and his allies couldn’t care less about international opinion. In taking up cudgels with the international community, they appear blind to how geopolitical power is being played out in the Middle East and Af-Pak region; how easy it is to destabilize some of the widely dispersed resorts sending the tourism industry packing, which is the sole revenue earner. The impression in Indian media about Maldives ‘reset’ button in India-Maldives relations may actually be to keep India in good humour – suggested by China? Military relations between India and Maldives are excellent. A 14-day joint military exercise between the Indian Army and MNDF to enhance the interoperability between the two forces for counter terrorist operations in semi urban environment was recently undertaken in South India under the ‘Ekuverin’ series of annual exercises being held since 2009. But military relations are just one part. Relations between the Indian Military and Royal Nepalese Army too are excellent but look which way bilateral relations with Nepal have gone?

India needs to closely examine what reiteration of “India First” by Maldives actually means. Maldives certainly needs to be engaged much more consistently. Larger economic investments by China notwithstanding, there are plenty ways to safeguard our national interests vis-à-vis Maldives. Void of a national security strategy more than 70 years after Independence does lead to ad-hoc approach, even as the void doesn’t seem to rankle any government in India. But the ways how to deal with a neighbor were scripted by Chanakya centuries ago. Besides, are we focused on application of India’s CNP? For example, why have we not promoted cultural ties as part of soft power more aggressively to negate anti-India sentiments? There appears no such promotional event after 2011 on the MEA website and certainly much more thought is needed in the quality of events. Look at China’s Buddhist cultural exhibitions abroad, including in Sri Lanka, to promote its Belt and Road Initiative – and this after China’s cultural genocide against Tibetans in Tibet.

Can we learn from the Chinese speed of progressing bilateral relations? Isn’t it a shame that despite a defence pact of 2009 that included India setting up 10 x Coastal Surveillance Radar Stations across Maldives linked with Indian military surveillance systems that would benefit both India and Maldives, we are yet to get going on this project? Clearly we need more focus in our stated policies like the ‘Indian Ocean Policy’ and policy of ‘Neighbours First’. Crystal gazing into the future would indicate that China may come up with an extraordinary large military base in the island (s) of Maldives, given its need for air cover to CBGs patrolling the Indian Ocean. But natural China would portray it as a ‘strategic support base’ or joint China-Maldives military base. That would have serious implications for India and the region.

The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.
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Lt Gen Prakash Katoch
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Situation is tense in Maldives. Let's hope this turns out to be in India's favour..
 

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Milan naval exercise: Maldives declines India's invitation to participate without giving any reason

India FP Staff Feb 27, 2018 12:50:08 IST

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Maldives has declined India's invitation to participate in the biennial naval exercise Milan, which starts 6 March, Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba said on Tuesday.



Representational image. Reuters.

Maldives has not not given any reason for the decision, Lanba told reporters on the sidelines of an event in New Delhi.

Navy sources said over 16 countries have confirmed their participation in the exercise. These include Australia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, New Zealand, Oman, Vietnam, Thailand, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kenya and Cambodia.


The Indian military's Andaman and Nicobar Command is going to hostbiennial multinational naval event 'Milan-2018' at Port Blair from 6-13 March with the underlying theme of "friendship across the seas". The event will see a mix of professional exercises and seminars, social events and sporting fixtures. The inaugural address will be delivered by Lanba.

The social interactions planned during Milan 2018 include display by Indian Army and navy bands, ship visits and colourful cultural evenings. Several events will be open to the public including displays by sky diving team, Beating the Retreat and naval continuity drill.


Besides fostering cooperation through naval exercises and professional interactions, 'Milan' will also provide an opportunity to the participating navies to nurture stronger ties in dealing with various security challenges. India, the US and several other nations have been pressing for freedom of navigation in the disputed South China Sea.

With inputs from agencies

Published Date: Feb 27, 2018 12:50 PM | Updated Date: Feb 27, 2018 12:50 PM

http://www.firstpost.com/india/mila...cipate-without-giving-any-reason-4368857.html


 

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