The Maldives Supreme Court has just postponed the presidential run-off, due for this Saturday, 28 September, thus triggering a breach of the constitution as the Supreme Court intervention means that now there will be a gap of more than three weeks between the two rounds in the presidential election in Maldives, writes Rajeev Sharma for Firstpost.
This is a severe diplomatic and strategic setback for India. The development indicates that all is not well for India in the tiny archipelago nation in the Indian Ocean where Pakistan and China are feverishly engaged in a covert game of outsmarting and outplaying India on the Maldivian chess board.
The intervention by the Maldives Supreme Court indicates that some cloak-and-dagger operations are going on in Male’ to ensure that Mohammed Nasheed , who was ousted 19 months ago in an alleged but never-proven coup, does not become the president again. Nasheed stood the brightest chance to become the president again as he was way ahead of all his rivals in the first round of voting earlier this month, but fell short of getting more than the 50 per cent votes to avoid a run-off.
India may say that it is not backing any particular candidate in the Maldivian presidential election, but it is obvious that Nasheed is New Delhi’s choice. The latest development is more of an affront for India than it is for Nasheed.
The Indian diplomatic establishment will be right in maintaining that it is not for or against any candidate in the Maldivian presidential election. Nonetheless, it needs to get its act together and act fast before time runs out.
If India continues its nervous fence-sitting, Waheed will do a Rajapakse and China will quickly expand its toe-hold in the island(s), writes G Pramod Kumar for India’s Firstpost publication.
In fact, India had lost considerable ground by not openly backing Nasheed at the time of the coup. India could have sent his army – just as the way it sent its forces to rescue Gayyoom when he was under attack by mercenaries in the 1980s- and protected Nasheed.
His supporters in fact wanted India to prevent his ouster, but the regional super power exposed its weakness by refusing to intervene. Now, here is the second chance for it to reclaim lost ground and redeem its super-power image.
What’s wrong in protecting our strategic interests in our own backyard? The interests of a 1.2 billion people democracy and a US$ 1.8 trillion dollar economy?
In fact, it should be Indians, not the MDP, that should demand that India play a decisive role in Maldives. It’s in our interest.
It’s not Bangladesh, Bhutan or Afghanistan that we should have controlling stakes in. We should have complete control of the Indian Ocean for our people and our interests to be safe because that is where China and Pakistan is expanding.
A decade ago, the Himal magazine published from Kathmandu had found an innovative perspective for south Asia to escape the air of Indo-Pakistan strife that dominated the region – to look at it upside down where the Indian ocean and the southern parts of India dominated the map. But today, even our part of the Indian ocean seems to be going out of our grip. India is hemmed in from all sides by just two countries – China and Pakistan!
Supporting authoritarian regimes in the region – both in Maldives and Sri Lanka – will be seriously detrimental to our interest. We cannot talk foreign policy with (their) rogue alliances smirking right on our face.
Maldives is not just about Nasheed, it is also about India, its people and its history.