Inept UPA has let down Nasheed

maomao

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India could have done a lot short of a military intervention in Maldives to secure its interests


The Government of India appears to have been caught napping on the Maldives issue on two counts. First, it failed to foresee the implications of some arbitrary actions of former President Mohammed Nasheed such as the arrest of the Chief Judge of the Criminal Court and disciplinary action against a Sandhurst-trained Colonel of the Maldives National Defence Force who were perceived to be anti-Nasheed and and did not advise him to desist from such actions. These actions antagonised the judiciary and created fissures in the MNDF and the Police. These elements joined hands with the anti-Nasheed protesters in forcing him to quit as President.

Second, it failed to realise that, despite his antagonising the judiciary and sections of the police and the MNDF, Mr Nasheed retained considerable popular support, particularly among the younger generation, and was in a position to take the battle against his opponents to the streets. Instead of keeping quiet till the street equations became clear and instead of desisting from any action that might be misinterpreted as granting legitimacy to the MNDF-engineered replacement of Mr Nasheed by his Vice President Mohamed Waheed Hasan, the UPA Government prematurely made statements that were interpreted in Maldives as amounting to the Government's abandoning of its support to the democratically-elected Nasheed. When Mr Nasheed's supporters, with the defiant ousted leader as their head, took the battle against their opponents to the streets, the Government of India found itself with its credibility badly weakened.

The result: The Government of India's traditional position as the sole arbiter of political fortunes in the Maldives has been badly damaged and a number of international actors from the UK, the US, the European Union and the United Nations have rushed to Maldives to try their hand in internal peace-making, thereby marginalising the traditional role of India. Only China and Pakistan have not yet entered the political fray in the Maldives. If they do, that will be the ultimate humiliation for Indian diplomacy at its southern doorstep.

We had earlier lost our clout in Sri Lanka as a result of soft and reactive reflexes and we stand in danger of similarly losing our clout — if we have not already lost it — in Maldives due to similar apologetic reflexes lacking in robustness of anticipation and action.

In the Net world, one could notice articulation of condemnation of the Government for failing to intervene militarily in the Maldives in support of the democratically-elected Government. Unfavourable comparisons have been made with the robust response of Rajiv Gandhi as Prime Minister to support then Maldives President Abdul Gayoom against threats from foreign mercenaries suspected to be from the LTTE by sending Indian Rapid Action Forces to Maldives to neutralise the threat.

The hesitation of the Union Government to send forces in response to a reported SOS from Mr Nasheed is understandable because the present situation is qualitatively different from what prevailed in 1988. The threat to Mr Nasheed was not from external forces, but from sections of his own MNDF and the police due to his perceived arbitrary style of governance. If the Government of India had sent the security forces to Maldives this time, they would have been called upon to act not against foreign mercenaries and their local supporters, but against sections of the political opposition in that country their supporters in the MNDF and the Maldivian Police.

Our security forces would have been able to overcome the opposition from the MNDF and the police, but then, what about managing the messy sequel, with the Maldivian security forces — many of whose senior officers were trained by us — turning hostile against India?

The criticism of the Government of India for not intervening immediately through our Armed Forces is not quite justified. But there are a lot of actions short of direct military intervention which we could have taken, such as visibly and noisily strengthening our direct action capability in the vicinity of Maldives to convey a message to the contending forces in that country and to external forces that might be tempted to take advantage of the situation to undermine India's influence that New Delhi was prepared to use its Armed Forces if needed to protect its nationals, and interests and rushing a high level and stick-wielding emissary to Male to cajole, if possible, and to compel if necessary, the contending forces not to undermine democracy and not to allow any other external elements to come in and partake of the broth.

The Government of India failed to take any of these actions and now finds itself with diminishing options in the face of an unpredictably evolving situation domestically and internationally. In 1988, the international community recognised implicitly that Maldives was India's concern and that India had every right to act according to its wisdom.

Even though the situation seems to be slipping out of our hands, we can still retrieve it provided we show leadership befitting a big power and act resolutely on the lines indicated above. Evidence of such leadership and resolute action is missing in New Delhi.

The writer, an expert on counter-terrorism and strategic affairs, is a former senior officer of Research & Analysis Wing. He is now Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies.

Inept UPA has let down Nasheed
 

sob

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IE in today's paper reported that India had helped Nasheed escape a coup in 2010.

Fearing coup, Nasheed got India to back him in 2010 - Indian Express

Mohamed Nasheed may now claim that that he was forced to quit office, but the fact is that the former Maldivian president had to be bailed out more than once through his crisis-ridden presidency. The closest shave was in 2010, when he survived after India firmly backed him.

Even then New Delhi was cautious not to rush in military back-up as Nasheed had hoped for, but a Navy ship did make an innocuous port call at the height of the 2010 crisis. Also, an aircraft from the ARC (RAW's aviation wing) was flown to Male just to assure Nasheed that his safety was a priority for India. In fact, after this, a regular contingency plan was put in place for Maldives, which included Indian para commandos taking control of Male airport within four hours of any emergency. This alert was in place even now, but the government decided against any overt intervention.

In 2010, India had responded to an urgent message from Nasheed that he feared a coup after his decision to place the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Ahmed Nazir under house arrest had provoked almost all entities in the fragile Maldivian system. He found himself in a stand-off with the Opposition, the police and judiciary. The military was still taking his orders, but its top brass was getting restive at being asked to follow instructions which had been deemed illegal by the Supreme Court.
 

spikey360

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UPA can't even handle its own household. How do you expect it to handle the household of another country.
 

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