A deal between the Maldives and Pakistan has reportedly riled India, which has been left wondering what its decades-long enemy can offer the tiny nation.
The agreement, signed late last month, is between the Maldives’ STELCO and Pakistan’s WAPDA and focuses on capacity building in the energy sector.
But the majority of current power infrastructure work in Pakistan relies heavily on China expertise and resources, not only finance.
Both the Maldives and Pakistan have close ties with China, which is pumping billions of dollars into New Delhi’s backyard through massive projects.
The Maldives is a newcomer when it comes to antagonising India, taking steps that have put bilateral relations under pressure, especially a controversial and widely condemned 45-day state of emergency.
“The simple fact is that (President Abdulla) Yameen, fully encouraged by his Chinese friends, is pushing India to test the limits of our power,” said Ravi Joshi, who served as an Indian diplomat in the Maldives. “He has imprisoned practically everyone who opposes him and has been assiduously working against our interest from the day we condemned his arbitrary ways,” he told the Economic Times.
China is backing mega projects in Pakistan, including coal-fired power plants, hydropower stations and wind farms, and there has been an influx of Chinese nationals hoping to tap into the infrastructure boom.
“Given its precarious financial situation, Pakistan cannot do much to help to the Maldives. But President Yameen is trying his best to reduce Indian footprint and bring in elements hostile to India to undermine Indian influence in the Maldives,” The Times of India quoted an Indian official as saying.