Diplomacy Politics

India Not A ‘Friend’ Maldives Sends Envoys To China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia

Maldives has excluded India from the list of “friendly nations” for which it announced envoys tasked with briefing and providing updates on the crisis unfolding in the country.

The envoys would travel to China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, said the announcement from the President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s office, which came hours after Chinese foreign ministry warned India against military intervention in the island nation and appealed to the international community to “play a constructive role on the basis of respecting the Maldives sovereignty.”

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Both Saudi Arabia and China are wooing the atolls with an aim of “gaining concessions for military bases”.

“China sees the islands as a node in its “string of pearls” – a row of ports on key trade and oil routes linking the Middle Kingdom to the Middle East – while for Saudi Arabia, the atolls have the added advantage of lying a straight three-hour shot from the coast of regional rival and arch-foe, Iran, reported SCMP.

“Saudi Arabia, to lay the ground for the investment, has in recent years funded religious institutions in the Maldives and offered scholarships for students wanting to pursue religious studies at the kingdom’s ultra-conservative universities in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. The funding has pushed the Maldives, a popular high-end tourist destination, towards greater intolerance and public piety. Public partying, mixed dancing and Western beach garb have become acceptable only within expensive tourist resorts.”

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Former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed, who was country’s first democratically elected President, had sought India’s military help to resolve the crisis in the island nation, which is placed under a state of emergency that gives sweeping powers to the law enforcement agencies and the military. India hasn’t responded to the request but issued a statement expressing worry over the government’s reluctance to abide by a Supreme court verdict.

Yameen has defied Supreme Court’s order directing him to release former president Mohamed Nasheed and free political opponents from prison. The opposition and general public have been unrelentingly asking President Yameen to step down and allow a new leadership to take charge.

Instead, Mr Yameen imposed a state of emergency and ordered the arrest of two of the five judges along former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who had sided with the main opposition.

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