Recognizing the strength of hawks of the South Block and marking the growing influence of India in the Indian Ocean Region, Maldives’ stance has revealed all the signs of India’s diplomatic triumph. Recognising India’s benevolence and rejecting China’s dominating policies, Maldives has firmly made it clear that it would not fall in the trap of China and Pakistan, the Speaker of the Maldives Parliament, Mohamed Nasheed, has reaffirmed, “It is difficult not to say now that there is a Cold War brewing in the Indian Ocean. Sitting where I am, it is obvious. We don’t like to be sandwiched between the two. But, we have an India First policy.”
Maldivian speaker @MohamedNasheed in New Delhi:
1) China's loans are debt trap.
2) South Asia must beware of China.
3) Not going ahead with China-Maldives FTA.
4) 'India-first' our top priority.@IndoPac_Info pic.twitter.com/2NNKoCX4VZ
— Vikrant Thardak (@VikrantThardak) December 13, 2019
Former President of the Maldives and the Speaker of Maldives Parliament Mohamed Nasheed, who is leading a parliamentary delegation of his country has left no stones unturned in showing his country’s pro-India approach while distancing his country from China.
On the Maldives- China Free Trade Agreement he said, “The FTA is dead. It is not proceeding and it has to come to the parliament first for it to be implemented. And I don’t see our Parliamentarians having the appetite for it. In terms of other construction contracts, we must get the contracts done. We can’t stop them halfway. It will not do any good to anyone. At the end of the day, we have to pay the bill but my point view is, the Chinese government must restructure the debt and it is up to them to do it and I hope they will do it.”
Mohamed Nasheed criticised Beijing’s debt traps and said, “These are loans. They are commercial loans with high interest where the project prices were inflated. Using debt as a leverage is completely wrong and no country should do that.”
On being asked about the CAB (now CAA), he termed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill India’s internal matter and said, “I believe whatever that comes out from the process would be what the vast majority in India would agree upon.”
He shared India’s concern with regard to Zakir Naik, Mohamed Nasheed said that “Zakir Naik tried to come to the Maldives again but our government refused” as the government “does not want anyone to “preach” hatred. Zakir Naik went to the Maldives once, he hasn’t come after that. They are using a lot of messaging techniques and are very successful in using them. I’m not talking about Islam but about terrorist organisations that want to embed themselves into the Maldives. We don’t want that, we are all good Muslims. Zakir Naik tried to come to the Maldives again but our government refused,” he added.
Mohamed Nasheed is currently in New Delhi at the joint invitation of Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla. He spoke on a host of issues ranging from the next venue of the SAARC summit to the Maldives’ ‘India First policy’. Mohamed Nasheed reaffirmed the Maldives’ commitment to stand firm on its pledges and fulfil the manifesto promises through a strategic plan that would involve assistance from India. He said there is no difference of opinion on any count between him and his party or the government. Nasheed is the leader of the ruling MDP in the Maldives.
Maldives’ stance on India, CAB and on Zakir Naik assures Indians about the diligent toil being done by our leaders as well as our diplomats. India has been strengthening its diplomatic achievements in the Maldives, recently PM Modi and Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih had jointly inaugurated four projects through video conferencing in the island nation, marking India’s diplomatic overtures regarding the archipelago nation. Notably, China had also made significant gains in the island country not so long ago with a whopping $3.4 billion debt that the Maldives owed to Beijing, and also a pro-China leader in the form of former President, Abdulla Yameen at the helm of affairs in the Maldives.