The Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF) has said it continues to promote “good relations” with its neighbours as this week it plays host to a Pakistani naval ship visiting the Maldives.
The vessel – known as the PNS Saif – arrived in the Male’ yesterday (April 15), where it presently remains docked. The ship’s arrival follows the visit last week of two Indian naval vessels.
MNDF Spokesperson Colonel Abdul Raheem told Minivan News today (April 16) that there was no significance behind the recent back-to-back visits of the Pakistani and Indian Naval forces.
“The Maldives has good relations with all neighbouring countries, including India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh,” he said. “Neighbouring countries’ ships visit often, it is normal.”
The Pakistani High Commissioner to the Maldives, Pakistani citizens living in the Maldives, as well as senior officials from the military and Maldives Police Service are scheduled to visit the naval ship today, according to the MNDF.
The PNF Saif’s commanding officer will then host a “special dinner” on the ship this evening.
A series of other diplomatic meetings and events are scheduled during the ship’s visit, including a special event hosted by the MNDF for Pakistani naval officers tomorrow (April 17). This is scheduled to be followed by a luncheon hosted by the Pakistani High Commissioner.
Senior PNS Saif officers are also scheduled to meet Minister of State for Defence and National Security Mohamed Muizzu Adnan, Chief of Defence Force Major General Ahmed Shiyam, as well as Commandant Coast Guard Brigadier General Ahmed Shahid.
The ship will remain in the Maldives until April 18.
Indian defence collaboration
Meanwhile, India has assured the Maldives of its commitment to “further enhance defense cooperation and security partnership,” following talks between Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim and his Indian counterpart A K Antony on Monday (April 15), the Times of India has reported.
Enhanced defence cooperation between the two nations is expected to include training exercises, capacity building and infrastructure-strengthening, according to media reports.
The Maldives hosted two Indian Naval Ships – the ICGS Varuna and INS Sujata – representing the First Training Squadron last week.
During the “goodwill visit”, a dinner function was held aboard the ships, where new Indian High Commissioner to the Maldives, Rajeev Shahare, made his first public appearance after assuming the post.
The dinner event was attended by the Maldivian Defence Minister Colonel (Rtd) Mohamed Nazim, other government ministers, diplomats, and high ranking officers from the Maldives military. The Indian government gave the Maldivian government a “contribution”, spare helicopter parts, and gym equipment, reported local media.
Shahare also used the event to praise Maldivian authorities for their “magnanimity” in allowing him to meet senior government officials at this event prior to presenting his credentials to the president, while speaking with local media April 10.
The MNDF has said it is also currently preparing celebrations for its 121st anniversary on April 21 with a “big ceremony” that will include two different events held in the nation’s capital Male’, Colonel Raheem told Minivan News.
A parade is scheduled to take place at 4pm near the tsunami monument in the Henveiru neighborhood of Male’, said Raheem.
An “official gathering, which normally includes all high level delegations” in the Maldives is also being planned for April 25.
As practice for the parade, a military band and MNDF soldiers carrying assorted firearms have been performing early morning marches in formation through Henveiru this week.