Millennium Post

Between devil and deep sea

There seems to be no quick solution to the current diplomatic quagmire in Maldives, with Mohamed Nasheed, the former and the very first democratically elected Maldivian President, hiding in the Indian embassy in Male for over a week now. Nasheed has taken refuge at the Indian High Commission on 13 February to escape his imminent arrest after being dragged through what is evidently a fabricated charge of having detained a criminal court judge illegally during his presidential tenure. India has obviously botched up big time and its lack of diplomatic finesse is apparent in its muddled handling of the Maldivian affair. First of all, India shouldn’t have hurried to endorse Nasheed’s successor and the current Maldivian President, Mohammed Waheed, when the latter took to power in February 2012, through what later emerged as a
coup d’état.
Waheed has now been proved to be an ally of the former dictator, the autocratic President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, whose 30-year-rule was ended by the first free and fair election in the island country that brought Nasheed to power with a decisive popular mandate. Even now, Nasheed is the head of the largest political party in Maldives, with over 40,000 members and many thousands of supporters, who is confident that a fresh election will restore him to his former glory, so that he could continue with his good work, which was to cleanse Maldives of the years of abject poverty, destitution, crime and wide-spread drug abuse suffered by the population during Gayoom’s atrocious reign.

Maldives’ strategic interest for India could not be discounted, especially in the context of the hypersecuritised ambience of today’s geopolitics. After Gayoom’s exit, Maldives would have fallen prey to Islamic radicals and would have become a breeding ground for fundamentalists, had it not been for Nasheed’s efforts to put those forces under a tight leash. Ironically enough, champions of liberal democracy, such as USA and India, have both faltered vis-à-vis la affaire de Maldives, chiefly because the loss of Nasheed would be inimical to the sovereignty and security of not just India, but the whole of the South Asian region. However, India showed a remarkable lack of foresight when it hastily sent across the congratulatory note to Waheed in February last year, and now, by exposing Nasheed’s Indian connections and his over-reliance on our diplomatic support, India has entered into a long, dark and uncertain tunnel of consular conundrum.
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