Security switches on for SAARC

Armed forces, police and other relevant authorities are on alert for the SAARC Summit, Joint Inter Agency Taskforce Commander Hassan Ziyad said. Heads of State from the South Asian region, including high-profile leaders of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, will be arriving in Addu City starting November 5.

Ziyad told local media Haveeru that the heads of states are “considered high risk even in their own countries,” and that respective domestic security threats are being taken into account by SAARC security forces.

All attending countries are providing security measures. Indian surveillance aircraft and navy vessels are patrolling the areas around Addu City and Fuvahmulah.

Ziyad has said that six teams of sniffer dogs provided by Sri Lanka are among the most trusted security measures.

During a press conference last week, National Security Advisor Ameen Faisal assured that security was tight and “there is no risk at all, we aren’t even bothered about it.”

The armed forces will be on alert commencing Tuesday for the SAARC Summit to be held from November 10-11.


Sri Lankan special forces bring bark to SAARC

Sri Lanka will provide security from its Special Task Force (STF) units for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit to be held in Addu City this November.

STF is an elite special forces unit of the Sri Lankan police which was formed in 1983, and focuses on counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations. It was the lead unit engaged with the Tamil Tigers during the Sri Lankan civil war.

The Foreign Ministry and the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) confirmed today that STF will be sending police dogs to support unidentified security matters.

“Previously, security dogs were allowed at the international airport, I’m not sure if they are still there but Maldivian law allows dogs to be used for security measures,” said MNDF Spokesperson Abdul Raheem.

“The dogs will clear the same areas as the event and other security forces, but I can’t say what they will be looking for,” he added.

Dogs are considered haram in Islam, and are prohibited as domestic pets in the Maldives. An exception was made for drug-sniffing and security dogs at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, however sources familiar with the issue say local staff were unable to provide proper care for the dogs and they fell ill.

Allegations of religious intervention were denied.

President’s Office Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair told Minivan News that the STF dogs would not be an issue for the SAARC event. “We had dogs earlier for security without any trouble, I don’t see why anybody should object because the government has officially employed dogs before,” he said.

All countries participating in the SAARC convention are providing security forces. According to Zuhair, Bangladesh has donated trucks to the army, India is contributing police forces, and equipment with an estimated value of US$400,000 will be arriving from Pakistan in the next few days.

China will provide CCTV equipment for surveillance.

“It’s a well-integrated and cooperative effort with MNDF and all participating members,” said Zuhair, who pointed out that Addu was a unique site for an event of this magnitude.

“The last SAARC was held in Male’, but this time the event will be spread across several islands. Transportation logistics will be different,” said Zuhair.

Raheem said security preparations are under way for SAARC, and that MNDF “is sure that things will be to our satisfaction.”

Heads of state from the region will be attending SAARC, several of which are currently high-profile figures in the international community.

“We have to look at this as a high-risk event. Some heads of state are high-risk, but we are treating each and every head of state as high-risk to ensure their security,” said Raheem.

Local media reports that STF forces have been having special training programs in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo to prepare for the Addu event.


The previous version of this article stated that Pakistan would provide US$4,600-worth of equipment to the SAARC summit security measures.

It should have read, “equipment with an estimated value of US$400,000 will be arriving from Pakistan in the next few days.”


SAARC carnival planning underway

A South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Carnival will complement the November SAARC summit scheduled to be held in Addu City and Fuvammulah, President Mohamed Nasheed said in his radio address last weekend.

Various exhibitions and cultural events by local and regional groups are being planned for the carnival, which scheduled for the first two weeks of November.

Preparations for the SAARC summit have brought new infrastructure and development to Addu. The president said the summit would also give greater exposure to development projects and business ventures in the Maldives, and create new markets for Maldivian exports.

The two-day SAARC summit, grouping eight nations, will open on November 10.