Military consolidation expected to dominate Defence Minister Nazim’s India visit

Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim is expected to commence talks today with his Indian counterpart on strengthening military ties between the two nations.  The talks will be the most senior meeting of ministers between the two countries since reports of bilateral tensions earlier this year, according to the Times of India.

As part of his visit to India, Nazim is expected to meet with Indian Defence Minister Shri A K Anthony to discuss establishing further defence collaboration, as well as the possibility of extending Indian coastal radar systems across the Maldives.

Nazim’s visit comes after Defence Minister Anthony travelled to the Maldives last year to open the ‘SenaHiya’ Military Hospital in Male’, where he spoke of expanding cooperation on naval security and preventing drug trafficking.

The ceremony in September 2012, was held at a time when international media was playing up a perceived strengthening of relations between the Maldives and China, drawing attention to the potential geopolitical implications for neighbouring India.

According to the Times of India, Nazim is the first senior government minister to visit the India since the country was accused of becoming embroiled in the Maldives’ domestic politics earlier this year.

Both Nazim and President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad were not responding to calls from Minivan News as time of press.

Reported tensions

Back in February, Maldives political figures from several government-aligned parties criticised the Indian High Commission after former President Nasheed was allowed to seek refuge on its premises from police seeking to present him to the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court.

Nasheed remained in the high commission’s chancery building on Sosun Magu in Male’ for 11 consecutive days, maintaining that charges against him for detaining a chief Criminal Court Judge were a politically motivated attempt to prevent him from contesting in presidential elections scheduled for this year.

Indian officials at the time rejected accusations of taking sides in the country’s domestic affairs, maintaining that India only favoured “inclusive elections”.

After Nasheed was allowed into the building, Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel implied through social media that India was meddling in the Maldives’ internal affairs, stating at the time: “What’s happening now gives us an indication of the extent and level of interest some countries prepared to take in our internal matters”.

“I would strongly urge everyone to let our institutions deal with the challenges, allow Maldives to uphold rule of law,” he tweeted.

Just a month before Nasheed went into the high commission building, Maldivian authorities denied that the country’s foreign minister had been snubbed by the Indian government after it rejected an official request to meet.

The reported snub came as Maldivian local media were issued a list of 11 grievances from the Indian High Commission concerning the treatment of Indian nationals in the country.

“Unshakable” relationship

However, the new Indian High Commissioner to the Maldives Rajeev Shahare last week emphasised the “unshakable” long-standing relationship between between both countries during a meeting with local media (April 10).

Shahare at the time stressed there had been no change in the relationship between the Maldives and India, despite media reports of increased tension between both nations.

“In any relationship there are highs and lows, but the relationship carries on its course normally,” he said.  “Engagement between the Maldives and India has been constant. We are pretty much on course.”