Four bilateral agreements signed with Pakistan

The Maldives has signed four Memorandums of Understanding with Pakistan today during president Abdulla Yameen’s ongoing two-day state visit.

The MoUs were for mutual cooperation in healthcare, education, sports, and combating drug abuse.

President Yameen was accompanied by first lady Fathmath Ibrahim, speaker of parliament Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed, and cabinet ministers. The delegation is due to return tonight.

President Mamnoon Hussain hosted a banquet in honour of president Yameen last night. The pair held talks on strengthening bilateral ties earlier in the day.

“President Yameen thanked his Pakistani counterpart for the excellent hospitality extended to himself and his delegation,” said the president’s office.

“President Yameen also extended an invitation to President Mamnoon Hussain to visit the Maldives at his earliest convenience. At the meeting, both the leaders deliberated on enhancing trade and cultural exchanges, as well as expanding the scope of investment opportunities. Discussions were also held on supporting each other in the global arena.”

Yameen has also reportedly invited prime minister Mohamed Nawaz Shareef to attend an official function due to be held on July 26 to mark the golden jubilee of the Maldives’ independence.


President Yameen in Pakistan for state visit

President Abdulla Yameen and first lady Fathmath Ibrahim have departed on an official state visit to Pakistan today.

“During the two-day visit, president Yameen will call on his excellency ‎Mamnoon Hussain‎ and hold one-to-one deliberations with Pakistani prime minister his excellency ‎Mohamed Nawaz Shareef, on charting the course ‎for future Maldives-‎Pakistan bilateral ties,” the president’s office said.

“President Yameen and prime ‎minister Nawaz Shareef will also lead official ‎bilateral talks between senior ‎delegations of the two countries.‎”

The president’s office said the Maldives and Pakistan will sign bilateral agreements in the areas of ‎sports, healthcare, education and combating narcotics drugs.‎


President Yameen, MDP sends Independence Day felicitations to India

President Abdulla Yameen and the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) sent felicitations and greetings to India yesterday on the occasion of the neighbouring country’s Independence Day (August 15).

“In separate messages sent to the President and Prime Minister, President ‎Yameen extended warm greetings and sincere good wishes of the Government ‎and the people of the Maldives, to the people and the Government of India,” read a statement from the President’s Office website.

He also expressed his hopes for further progress of the close relations of ‎‎friendship, understanding and co-operation that exist between the Maldives ‎and India.‎ In his message, the President extended his good wishes for continued ‎progress and prosperity of the people of India.‎”

President Yameen sent a similar message to the president and prime minister of Pakistan on the occasion of the Islamic state’s Independence Day, extending “warm greetings and sincere good wishes of the government and the people of the Maldives, to the people and the government of Pakistan” and expressing his “hopes for further consolidation of the warm and cordial relations that exist between the Maldives and Pakistan.”

The MDP meanwhile issued a statement extending “congratulations and best wishes to the people of India on the auspicious occasion of the 68th Independence Day of India.”

“While we renew our celebration of good relations, Indian Independence today means much more than just the Independence of present India, as Indian development over the years has given hope to all of South Asia,” the statement read.

“The Maldivian Democratic Party shares the Indian peoples’ aspirations for a powerful India, playing a preeminent role in South Asia. The Maldivian Democratic Party reiterates its stance that India must remain the supreme power in the Indian Ocean region; a position that should be accepted, indeed welcomed, by the Maldives.”

The main opposition party also expressed “gratitude for continued Indian concerns and assistance where necessary in dealing with dangers not only to the future stability of the Maldives but also to the security of the wider region.”

The statement went on to express “profound gratitude to Indian institutions and government for continued engagement in spheres of trade, development and especially with all political entities in strengthening and safeguarding democratic institutions in the Maldives.”


Pakistan donates 47 computer systems to police service

The Government of Pakistan has donated 47 computer systems to the Maldives Police Service (MPS).

Home Minister Umar Naseer accepted the gift from Pakistan High Commissioner Mohamed Saeed Khan during a special function held yesterday.

Naseer expressed his gratitude for the gift, noting that it would be sure to improve the police’s service.

Speaking at the 81st anniversary celebrations of the MPS last month, Police Commissioner Hussain Waheed noted that the service faced a severe lack of resources, stating that basic equipment such as computers was lacking on many islands.

Earlier this month it was announced that 20 MPS officers would travel to Beijing in order to take part in a seminar with their Chinese counterparts.

Waheed expressed hope that the seminar would bring the standards of the Maldivian participants up to those of Chinese officers.


Parliament approves ambassador for Sri Lanka as president withdraws nominee for EU post

The Majlis today unanimously approved Zahiya Zareer as the Malidves’ ambassador to Sri Lanka with 49 votes.

Zareer previously served as the Minister of Education in President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s administration and ran for parliament.

President Abulla Yameen’s nomination for the ambassador for Pakistan, Major General (Rt) Moosa Ali Jaleel was also sent for review by the National Security Committee as per parliament regulations.

Jaleel was the Chief of Defence Force under President Mohamed Nasheed and is revered as a national hero for his services during the attempted coup by Tamil mercenaries in 1988.

However , president Yameen today withdrew the name of Hassan Sobir whom he earlier nominated as the new ambassador to Belgium and the European Union. No official reason was given for the withdrawal.

Sobir served as the tourism minister and fisheries minister in President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom’s administration. He also served as the ambassador for Singapore and the UK.


Pakistani high commissioner calls on president

The Pakistani High Commissioner, Mohamed Saeed Khan, this morning paid a call on President Abdulla Yameen.

Congratulating President Yameen on his November election victory, the Pakistani High Commissioner went on to discuss the expansion of bilateral ties – in particular, health, security, education, and sports.

The President’s Office has reported that Yameen conveyed his good wishes to Pakistani President Nawaz Sharif, whom he noted as a long-standing ally of the Maldives. He also expressed confidence that Maldivian-Pakistani relations would flourish during his tenure.

The meeting was also reportedly attended by Minister of Foreign Affairs Dunya Maumoon, Minister at the President’s Office Mohamed Hussain Shareef, and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Hassan Shifau.


Taking the Wind Out of Maldives’ Radical Sails: The Sunday Standard

“There is alarm in India over Jehadi indoctrination of youngsters from the island nation of Maldives in Pakistan,” writes Devirupa Mitra for India’s Sunday Standard publication.

“Red flags have gone up over young Maldivians going for Islamic studies at seminaries in Pakistan and later turning up at the wrong place at the wrong time. Like a 31-year-old Maldivian national killed in a bomb explosion in Afghanistan in December 2013.

To curb the spread of Pakistan-induced radicalisation in the atoll—as it could pose a greater security challenge due to Maldives’ strategic position and freer travel guidelines—New Delhi is moving towards increasing contacts with moderate Indian Islamic institutions to educate youths from its Indian Ocean neighbour.For a year now, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has been working on a proposal to increase engagement and contact between Islamic groups in Maldives and moderate Islamic educational institutions in India. All with the hope that more Maldivian youth would prefer to come to India in large numbers to pursue Islamic education than go to Pakistan.

The latest example of the phenomena which has raised concern came to the fore just last month, when the family of a Maldivian national, who had been studying in Pakistan for nearly six years, learned that he had died in a bomb blast in Afghanistan. A media report quoted a local politician as saying that when he called home, he would just “talk about Jihad and independence of Palestine”.

Sources made it clear that the government will try not to barge into this sensitive area in a heavy-handed manner, so it will only be a “facilitator to increase contacts with moderate Indian groups”.

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Maldivian student killed in Afghan blast

A Maldivian student, Amir Moosa, 31 from G.A Dhaandhoo was recently killed in a bomb blast in Afghanistan, the Island council has said today.

President of the Council Shuaib Abdulla said a family member of the deceased had reported his death in an Afghanistan bomb blast, although the incident is yet to be officially reported to the Council by his immediate family.

Shuaib said Amir has been studying in Pakistan for the past six years and many locals believe he was involved with Jihadi operations there. “According to a family members, when he calls home he would talk about Jihad and Independence of Palestine” Shuaib said.

The deceased’s sister told Sun Online that Amir had been killed two months ago, though the family themselves only received the news yesterday (December 14). She also denied that Amir held any extremist views.

However, local news website CNM quoted Amir’s mother as saying that he was living in Pakistan with his wife and four children (who are still in Pakistan) for higher education.

Amir’s family confirmed to CNM that he was visiting Afghanistan when the blast killed him. Maldives Police Service have not yet received any such reports.

Foreign Ministry officials were not available for comment at the time of press.

Maldives has been hit by a wave of religious extremism in the past few years. In September 2007 a home made IED was set off at popular tourist attraction in capital Male’, injuring 12 tourists.

Common threats against voices critical of radical Islamism were actualized with a brutal attempt on a journalist’s life in 2012. Ismail ‘Hilath’ Rasheed came just millimetres from death when assailants he would later allege to be Islamists slashed his throat just yards from his home.

This incident happened just a few months after a mob of religious extremists destroyed priceless Buddhist statues in the National Museum.

In early 2010, then-Vice President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik expressed concern about young Maldivians being recruited by militant groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan to wage ‘jihad’, a claim reiterated by top level officials including former President Mohamed Nasheed.


President awards state’s highest honour to Pakistan’s Chief of Naval Staff

Pakistan’s Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Asif Sandila arrived in the Maldives yesterday (October 9) at the invitation of Maldives Chief of Defence Force Major General Ahmed Shiyam.

President Mohamed Waheed awarded the Admiral with the ‘Nishaan Muleege Sharafge Izzaiy’ (‘Order of Distinguished Rule of Muleege’) – one of the highest ranking honors conferred by the state – in recognition of his dedicated efforts to provide humanitarian assistance in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami. The award was previously established in honour of Al-Sultan Mohamed Shamsuddeen.

When the tsunami hit the Maldives on December 26, 2004, Admiral Sandila was the Mission Commander of two Pakistani Naval Ships, P.N.S Tariq and P.N.S Nasr, which were on a goodwill visit to the country.

As the initial responders to the “critical situation” the Pakistani naval ships took “prompt action” conducting search and rescue operations, evacuating citizens and tourists from affected islands, conducting the initial damage assessment, and providing critical food and relief supplies to devastated islands in the aftermath tsunami, said the President’s Office.

“At the time of the worst ever natural disaster in the recent history of Maldives, Admiral Sandila proved above and beyond the call of duty to be a source of exemplary service and dedication which was symbolic of the long standing fraternal relation between the Maldives and Pakistan,” said President Waheed during this morning’s (October 10) award ceremony.

Admiral Sandila is also scheduled to meet with Minister of Defence and National Security Colonel (Rtd) Mohamed Nazim during his two day official visit and will depart from the Maldives tonight, according to local media.

Past Pakistani controversy

In November 2011, the allegedly “idolatrous” Pakistani monument erected for the SAARC summit was set on fire by a group of people in Hithadhoo, Addu City after two young men toppled the monument during an earlier protest.

The monument, which featured engraved symbols of Pakistan’s ancient civilisation and a bust of the country’s founder Mohamed Ali Jinah, had been removed by the Addu City Council the previous week but was replaced back on its plinth with a cover ahead of the unveiling ceremony.

A member of the Pakistani delegation at the unveiling ceremony explained to Minivan News that the monument represented artifacts of the ancient Indus Valley civilisation and were not specifically religious symbols.

Following the first attempt to vandalise the monument, a second member of the Pakistani delegation told Minivan News that they approached the Maldives’ Foreign Ministry over the incident but was informed by an official that it had not occurred, and was a rumour spread by the opposition.