- Maldives’ president sends envoys to Pakistan, China, Saudi for support
MALE: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Friday politely turned down the Maldives’ president request for assistance, saying Pakistan firmly believes in the policy of non-interference and would continue to adhere to the principles of the UN charter in this regard.
Speaking during a meeting with Maldives Foreign Minister Dr Mohamed Asim, PM Abbasi, however, stressed that the relations between Pakistan and Maldives were characterised by cordiality, mutual respect, and commonality of interests; however, Pakistan won’t interfere in the internal conflict of the country.
Maldivian FM Dr Asim is an official visit to Pakistan as the special envoy of the president of the Maldives from February 8 to 10.
He is a part of a delegation that the Maldives’ president has sent to friendly nations such as China, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia to brief them on a political crisis in the Indian Ocean nation that spurred the imposition of a state of emergency.
As part of his efforts to take international community into confidence over the state of crisis that has engulfed the island, President Abdullah Yameen sent his economic development minister, Mohamed Saeed, to China, foreign minister Mohamed Asim to Pakistan, and farming and fisheries minister Mohamed Shainee to Saudi Arabia, according to a post on Maldives’ official website late on Wednesday.
Yameen left out key regional power India, which had joined Britain, the United States, and the United Nations in calling for the lifting of the emergency and the freeing of two Supreme Court judges whose ruling against Yameen sparked new instability.
The Maldives, best known for luxury tourist resorts, has become another arena of the contest for India and China after it signed up to Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative to build trade and transport links across Asia and beyond.
India, which has had longstanding political and security ties to the islands about 400 km (250 miles) away, has sought to push back against China’s expanding presence in the country of 400,000 people, most of them Muslims. Maldivian opposition leaders have urged New Delhi to intervene in the crisis.
“Members of the cabinet, on the direction of President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, will visit friendly nations of the Maldives and provide updates on the current situation,” it said.
The government wanted to send a special envoy to India as well but the dates were not suitable for the Indian foreign ministry, said Ahmed Mohamed, the Maldives’ ambassador to India.
The Maldives has been in crisis since last week, when the Supreme Court quashed convictions ranging from corruption to terrorism against nine opposition figures, including former president Mohamed Nasheed, its first democratically elected leader.
The tension came to a head when Yameen’s government rejected the ruling, imposed the emergency for 15 days on Monday and then arrested the chief justice and another judge of the court.
A delegation of diplomats from Britain, the European Union, and Germany was denied a meeting with Yameen and his cabinet colleagues, the German embassy in Sri Lanka said.
“Our requests were unfortunately refused. That is surely not the way forward,” it said in a post on Twitter.
The military warned media outlets late on Thursday “to stop spreading information that negatively affects national security and safety and spread fear and discord among the people”.
Independent media outlet Raajje TV suspended its broadcast, saying that “law enforcement refused to adequately address credible threats, and due to the utter lack of an environment conducive to unbiased and independent journalism”.
Nasheed, in exile, since he was allowed to go abroad for medical treatment in 2016, urged India to send an envoy “backed by the military” to the Maldives to free the detained judges and political prisoners.
India sent soldiers to foil a coup against the government in 1988 but has since refrained from getting directly involved in the country’s unstable politics.