- Maldives has gone ahead and signed a capacity building agreement in the power sector with Pakistan.
Background – Defence deal and work permit:
- Maldives has dragged its feet on India’s proposal for deploying a Dornier surveillance aircraft on its territory. Because Maldives is said to be considering an offer of a similar aircraft from Pakistan.
- The Pakistan’s offer, which got financial support from China, have been revived recently during Pakistan army chief visit to Maldives.
- However, experts believe that Maldives is considering Pakistan’s offer only reduce India’s footprint in its territory.
- It probably doesn’t realise that just acquiring an aircraft is not enough as operation of such assets require considerable technical manpower and support infrastructure, which Pakistan lacks.
- While India offer everything on a platter as Indian navy and Coast Guard staff are mainly technical experts, and function transparently, with exemplary discipline, under the control of Maldives authorities.
- Also Maldives government has stopped issuing work permits to Indians delaying work on various projects being handled by India like the construction of a police academy.
Maldives-Pakistan Power sector agreement:
- After the helicopter and work permit snub, Maldives has now gone ahead and signed a capacity building agreement in the power sector with Pakistan.
- The Maldives state electricity company Stelco officials visited Pakistan last week and signed a MoU for cooperation in “institution-building” activities.
- While this would have been unthinkable until four years ago, the fact is that under Maldives President Abdulla Yameen there has been growing cooperation between the two countries.
Challenges for India:
- Now locked in a bitter political standoff with India, Maldives continues to pose fresh security challenges for India almost on a monthly basis.
- Present Maldives government is trying best to reduce Indian footprint and bring in elements hostile to India to undermine Indian influence in Maldives, even at the cost of interests of the Maldivian people.
- Indian authorities believe that the presence of Pakistan officials will see development of covert intelligence modules who will target India.
- The fear is that this might seriously complicate the security situation in Maldives which is already struggling to check radicalisation.