Skip to main content

Over to Maldives

Over to Maldives


Whether Male likes it or not, India’s proximity is a fact

Pakistan's Chief of Army calling on President Abdulla Yameen

Source: Maldivian President's office


The visit of Pakistan Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa to the Maldives could not have been particularly comfortable for India. Bajwa became the first foreign dignitary to visit Maldives following the imposition of the 45-day Emergency which was lifted 22 March. The statements attributed to General Bajwa and President Abdulla Yameen were not out of the ordinary, what is significant, however, is the visit itself. It is a sign of closer coordination between Chinese and Pakistani policy in South-west Asia and the western Indian Ocean region.

It may be recalled that in December 2017, President Yameen visited China shortly after the Parliament approved an FTA with Beijing. Maldives became the second South Asian nation after Pakistan to have one with China. He committed his country to take an active part in the Belt and Road Initiative.

Even so, India has broadly signalled that it will not intervene in the Maldives for the present.  A report by Jyoti Malhotra in The Indian Express says  that New Delhi has told Beijing that it will not intervene in Maldives and that it expected the latter to reciprocate this gesture of “strategic trust” and not do anything which would negatively impact on the country’s security. The unnamed official told Malhotra that “The days when India believed that South Asia was its primary sphere of influence… are long gone.”

Taken together with a recent observation by the Indian ambassador to China  Gautam Bambawale that China needed to be sensitive to Indian concerns in Doklam, this move signals an effort by New Delhi to work out a modus vivendi with China in the South Asian and Indian Ocean Region.

It would be tempting to see it as a sign of weakness, however it is actually a measure of Indian self-confidence. In the past few years, Indian policy may have had its hits and misses in countries like  Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bhutan (Doklam) but it has shown that it will not hesitate to react to any move that impinges on Indian security. At the same time, however, it will not get neurotic about every move by external powers to interact with India’s neighbours.

There can be little doubt that Maldives occupies a hugely important location with regard to India. It lies a little south of the sea lanes that connect eastern and western India, and it also sits at the head of international sea lanes that take traffic from the Suez Canal and the Straits of Hormuz to eastern India, South-east Asia and East Asia.

Over the years, and after many interventions, New Delhi has learnt that it is easy to intervene in a neighbouring country, but that managing the consequences of an intervention can be complicated. Smaller countries in the neighbourhood are naturally inclined to play off bigger powers to expand their own leverage, but a self confident policy rooted in a mature understanding of national interest can prevent needless heartburn and cost.

In the past couple of years, Maldives has steadily sought to move away from India. It began with the cancellation of a contract to an Indian company for an airport project in 2012. Subsequently a Chinese company was given the contract. Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Maldives in September 2014. He got the support of the strategic maritime nation for his BRI. China has taken up several projects in the island, including a road bridge between Male and Hulhule airport.

In 2015, Maldives passed a new law allowing foreigners to own land on the Maldives if they invested more than $ 1 billion and more than 70 per cent of the land was reclaimed from the sea. Given China’s expertise in reclamation, this looked like a measure tailor made for Beijing. As part of this the Maldivian government has leased  the Feydhoo Finolhu island to a Chinese company for a period of 50 years.

The big Indian concern is of Chinese maritime activities in the Maldives. There have been periodic reports about the sale of the Gadhoo island in the southern part of the country. The report that China and Maldives are planning to build a Joint Ocean Observation Station in its western most atoll of Makunudhoo could not be too comforting. The Maldivians claim that this is a meteorological station, but it could well be the thin edge of the wedge of a facility for monitoring maritime traffic since it is perhaps the closest to India.  As such till now Maldives has had close relations with India on the security front. Given its proximity, Indian security can be affected by developments in the island-nation.

As of now, India is likely to wait till  September when the Maldivian general elections are due. Indian policy is largely aligned with that of Europe and the US and should there be indicators that Yameen does not plan to go ahead with the elections, there could be consequences.

Though China has directed a huge volume of tourist traffic to the island helping it to keep its key earning sector going. The biggest source of tourists to Maldives is still Western Europe. Whether Male likes it or not, India’s proximity is a fact. It may be seen as a disadvantage by Yameen, but in the past, it has been useful such as in 1987 when India prevented a coup on the island, or in December 2014 when it rushed water supplies to the island when Male’s water treatment plant broke down.

This commentary originally appeared in Greater Kashmir.


Popular posts from this blog

SSG Commando Muddassir Iqbal of Pakistan Army

“ Commando Muddassir Iqbal was part of the team who conducted Army Public School operation on 16 December 2014. In this video he reveals that he along with other commandos was ordered to kill the innocent children inside school, when asked why should they kill children after killing all the terrorist he was told that it would be a chance to defame Taliban and get nation on the side. He and all other commandos killed children and later Taliban was blamed.
Muddassir Iqbal has deserted the military and now he is  with mujahedeen somewhere in AF PAK border area”
For authenticity of  this tape journalists can easy reach to his home town to interview his family members or   ISPR as he reveals his army service number”
Asalam o Alaikum: My name is Muddassir Iqbal. My father’s name is Naimat Ali. I belong to Sialkot divison (Punjab province), my village is Shamsher Poor and district, tehsil and post office  Narowal. Unfortunately I was working in Pakistan army. I feel embarrassed to tell you …

The Rise of China-Europe Railways

The Rise of China-Europe RailwaysMarch 6, 2018The Dawn of a New Commercial Era?For over two millennia, technology and politics have shaped trade across the Eurasian supercontinent. The compass and domesticated camels helped the “silk routes” emerge between 200 and 400 CE, and peaceful interactions between the Han and Hellenic empires allowed overland trade to flourish. A major shift occurred in the late fifteenth century, when the invention of large ocean-going vessels and new navigation methods made maritime trade more competitive. Mercantilism and competition among Europe’s colonial powers helped pull commerce to the coastlines. Since then, commerce between Asia and Europe has traveled primarily by sea.1Against this historical backdrop, new railway services between China and Europe have emerged rapidly. Just 10 years ago, regular direct freight services from China to Europe did not exist.2 Today, they connect roughly 35 Chinese…

CPEC Jobs in Pakistan, salary details

JOBS...نوکریاں چائنہ کمپنی میںPlease help the deserving persons...Salary:Salary package in China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in these 300,000 jobs shall be on daily wages. The details of the daily wages are as follows;Welder: Rs. 1,700 dailyHeavy Duty Driver: Rs. 1,700 dailyMason: Rs. 1,500 dailyHelper: Rs. 850 dailyElectrician: Rs. 1,700 dailySurveyor: Rs. 2,500 dailySecurity Guard: Rs. 1,600 dailyBulldozer operator: Rs. 2,200 dailyConcrete mixer machine operator: Rs. 2,000 dailyRoller operator: Rs. 2,000 dailySteel fixer: Rs. 2,200 dailyIron Shuttering fixer: Rs. 1,800 dailyAccount clerk: Rs. 2,200 dailyCarpenter: Rs. 1,700 dailyLight duty driver: Rs. 1,700 dailyLabour: Rs. 900 dailyPara Engine mechanic: Rs. 1,700 dailyPipe fitter: Rs. 1,700 dailyStorekeeper: Rs. 1,700 dailyOffice boy: Rs. 1,200 dailyExcavator operator: Rs. 2,200 dailyShovel operator: Rs. 2,200 dailyComputer operator: Rs. 2,200 dailySecurity Supervisor: Rs. 2,200 dailyCook for Chinese food: Rs. 2,000 dailyCook…