Former Maldives Defence Minister Mariya Ahmed Didi on Monday said that derogatory comments against Prime Minister Narendra Modi demonstrate the “short-sightedness” of the Maldives government, adding that India has been a reliable ally, providing assistance in various sectors, including defense, and criticized any attempt to undermine the longstanding relationship.
She further expressed disappointment over disparaging remarks, highlighting India as the “911 call” for the Maldives, always coming to their rescue in times of need.
“It is the short-sightedness on the part of the present administration… We are a small country who are friends with all, but we cannot deny that we share borders with India. We share similar security concerns. India has always helped us. They have been helping us even in the defence sector with capacity building, providing us with equipment, and trying to make us more self-sufficient,”Mariya Ahmed Didi said.
She said that Maldives and India are like-minded in their quest for democracy and respect for human rights. “It’s a very short-sightedness on the part of the present government to really think that we can really try to not keep the age-old relationship that we have always had with India…” she said.
A massive row was triggered last week as Maldives deputy minister, along with other cabinet members and government officials, made disparaging and unsavoury references to PM Modi’s Lakshadweep visit.
#WATCH | Male: On the row over Maldives MP’s post on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Former Maldives Defence Minister Mariya Ahmed Didi says, “… India has been our 911 call, whenever we need it, we give a call and you all come to our rescue. That kind of a friend. When you see… pic.twitter.com/9X64vqwWwg
— ANI (@ANI) January 8, 2024
Meanwhile, the former Maldives Defence Minister said “… India has been our 911 call, whenever we need it, we give a call and you all come to our rescue. That kind of a friend. When you see such disparaging remarks about friends like this, it is sad for everyone concerned.”
She underscored the importance of maintaining the age-old relationship with India and expressed concerns about the negative impact of such remarks on the friendship between the two nations.
Former Maldives Defence Minister said that considering our close friendship, neighboring status, and participation in the global community, it is essential to uphold our international commitments.
She noted the historical “India first” policy and hoped for its continuation, recognizing India as the nearest neighbor that has consistently provided support in times of need.
“I would think as close friends, as neighbours, as part of the global community, and we would keep our international commitments and Maldives government, would keep our traditional foreign policy of being friends with everyone. We’ve always had an India first policy, and I hope they continue it, that they recognize that you’re the closest neighbour, that you will be the people who have always come and will come in the future also when the need arises and to have the sentiments of the Maldivian people because we have always gone to India for medical treatment as wel,” she added.
She urged acknowledgment of the sentiments of the Maldivian people, highlighting instances of seeking medical treatment in India and receiving COVID-19 vaccines under Indian aid.
“When we do not have the facility to attend to certain illnesses in Maldives. Even otherwise when we had the Covid, we got the vaccines also under Indian aid. We’ve had so much cooperation between the two countries. We have cooperated with each other from time immemorial, and it is not feasible for us to even think that we can replace our closest neighbour…,” she said.
On January 2, PM Modi visited the Union Territory of Lakshadweep and shared several pictures, including an ‘exhilarating experience’ of him trying his hand at snorkelling.
In a series of posts on X, PM Modi shared pictures of the white beaches, the pristine blue skies and the ocean and tagged them with a message that read, “For those who wish to embrace the adventurer in them, Lakshadweep has to be on your list.”
In a post that has now been deleted, the Maldivian Deputy Minister of Youth Empowerment, Shiuna, made a mocking and disrespectful reference to PM Modi.
The Maldivian government on Sunday distanced itself from Minister Mariyam Shiuna’s derogatory remarks, saying her opinion does not reflect the government’s views.
The government added that ‘appropriate action’ will be taken against the minister, who is in the midst of a social media firestorm over her post.
The government added that it believes that the freedom of expression should be exercised in a “democratic and responsible manner, and in ways that do not spread hatred, negativity, and hinder close relationships between the Maldives and its international partners”.
On Indian troops presence in Maldives, the minister said: “It has never been a question of Indian troops being here or anything like that. They have been here to help us on our government’s request. Several successive governments have requested that they come and help us… It has been helping us keep our citizens safe, and it’s sad that we do not see it that way.”
She said Maldives has never had the Indian troops in the traditional sense in the Maldives.
“As part of the defence cooperation, India has offered us technical support purely on a humanitarian basis to bring our people from the islands to Male. The equipment that was given to Maldives has always been there to help us, to assist us in the humanitarian evacuation of our people. The helicopters that were there… they are completely under the command and control of MNDF (Maldives National Defence Force). The MNDF tells them when to fly and how to fly and what to do about it.”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)