Former Maldives minister hails India's 'old ties'

Maria Ahmed Didi said, “India has always helped us

Former Maldivian Defense Minister Maria Ahmed Didi said on Monday that the derogatory comments against Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted the “short-sightedness” of the Maldivian government. Any attempt to undermine a long-term relationship.

He further expressed disappointment at the derogatory comments, highlighting India as the “911 call” for the Maldives, always coming to their rescue in times of need.

“This is the short-sightedness of the present administration… We are a small country with friendly relations with all, but there is no denying that we share borders with India. We share similar security concerns. India has always helped us. Even in the defense sector they have provided capacity building, equipment and us. They are trying to make them self-sufficient,” said Maria Ahmed Didi.

He said that Maldives and India are like-minded in respecting democracy and human rights. “It's very short-sighted on the part of the present government to actually think that we can't really have the archaic relationship we've always had with India…” he said.

Last week, the Maldivian Deputy Minister, along with other cabinet members and government officials, created a huge controversy when he made derogatory and unpleasant remarks about Prime Minister Modi's visit to Lakshadweep.

Meanwhile, the former Defense Minister of Maldives said, “… India is our 911 call, when we need it, we call, you all save us. Such a friend. When we see such derogatory comments about friends. It's sad for all concerned.”

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He underlined the importance of maintaining the ancient relationship with India and expressed concern over the negative impact of such comments on the friendship between the two countries.

Considering our close friendship, neighborly status and participation in the global community, it is necessary to uphold our international obligations, said the former Maldivian Defense Minister.

He referred to the historic principle of “India first” and believed in its continuation, recognizing India as a close neighbor who would continue to provide support in times of need.

“I think as close friends, as neighbors, as part of the world community, and we will abide by our international obligations and the Maldivian government, we will maintain our traditional foreign policy of friendship with all. We have always had an India first policy, and I hope they will continue to do so. , they will realize that you are a close neighbour, you will always come and come in future when the need arises, you will get the sentiments of Maldivian people. We have always gone to India for medical treatment,” he added.

He urged recognition of the sentiments of the Maldivians, citing instances of receiving medical treatment in India and receiving Covid-19 vaccines under Indian assistance.

“When there was no facility to treat certain diseases in Maldives, even when there was Covid, we got vaccines under Indian aid. We had a lot of cooperation between the two countries. We cooperated with each other. It was impossible even to think that we could replace our close neighbor from time immemorial,” he said.

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On January 2, PM Modi visited the Union Territory of Lakshadweep and shared several pictures, including an 'exhilarating experience' of trying his hand at snorkeling.

In a series of posts on X, PM Modi shared pictures of white beaches, beautiful blue skies and seas and tagged them with a message that for those who want to embrace adventure, Lakshadweep is a must. Your list.”

In a now-deleted post, Maldives Deputy Minister of Youth Empowerment Shiuna made a mocking and disrespectful reference to Prime Minister Modi.

The Maldivian government on Sunday distanced itself from minister Mariam Sheuna's derogatory comments, saying her comments did not reflect the government's views.

The government has said that appropriate action will be taken against the minister involved in controversy on social media.

The government added that it believed that freedom of expression should be exercised “in a democratic and responsible manner and in ways that do not spread hatred, negativity and disrupt close relations between the Maldives and its international partners”.

On the presence of Indian troops in Maldives, the minister said: “There is no presence of Indian troops here or anything like that. They are here to help us at the request of our government. Many successive governments have asked us to come and help. For us… it helps keep our citizens safe, we It's sad not to see it that way.”

He said that Maldives has never had Indian forces in the traditional sense.

“As part of security cooperation, India has given us technical support on a purely humanitarian basis to bring our people from the islands to Male. The equipment provided to the Maldives has always helped us in the humanitarian evacuation of our people. The helicopters that were there… they were all MNDF (Maldives National Defense Force). are in command and control.

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(Other than the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)

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