Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Maldives returns helicopter gifted by India: A look at how ties between the two nations have deteriorated in 2018

Maldives has asked India to take back one of two naval helicopters New Delhi had gifted to Male, the latest incident in a series which clearly depicts the deteriorating ties between the two countries.

The Times of India quoted a top Maldives government source as saying that the country wanted a Dornier maritime surveillance aircraft instead of the Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) which India had gifted to Maldives.

Relations between India and Maldives have not been smooth for quite a while now.

A worrying fact for India has been the way Maldives has allowed China to make strategic inroads.

The arbitrary manner in which an airport project was handed over to the Chinese even though the contract had been won by an Indian company, the opening of a Chinese embassy, signing of a Free Trade Agreement and rumours that Beijing might be given the right to set up a naval base in one of the islands were all unsettling for India.

In the last week of March, Maldivian Ambassador to China Mohamed Faisal had said that India was like a brother to Maldives but China was like a long-lost cousin found.

"India is a brother. We are a family, we may quarrel and we may have arguments but in the end, we will sit down and resolve it," the diplomat had said.

He had claimed that the Maldives has taken a number of projects to India for finance "but we did not receive the necessary finance."
China, which looks at Maldives as a major participant in its 21st century Maritime Silk Road plan in the Indian Ocean, has made heavy investments in the nation of islands which has 26 tropical atolls and 1,000 small islands.

China has put up a staunch defence of Maldives president Abdulla Yameen, stonewalling international pressure and enabling him to stay in power during the current crisis.

The picturesque Indian Ocean archipelago was plunged into chaos early in February when the Supreme Court called for the release of nine imprisoned Opposition politicians, ruling that their trials were politically motivated and flawed.

The government refused to implement the ruling. Yameen imposed a state of emergency and arrested apex court judges and former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. On 22 March, however, the state of emergency was lifted.

Earlier in March, Mohamed Shainee, a senior minister in President Yameen's government, had reportedly told a group of visiting Indian reporters, "Why haven't we gone into the Kashmir issue...and asked to be (an) intermediary? Because they are internal matters...India should stay away from our issue."

"We are independent and capable of dealing with the situation. If we need help, we will let India know."

Reacting sharply, Indian officials had termed the remarks as "unfortunate".
04/04/18 Fist Posy/Yahoo

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