The Maldives’ political crisis is an internal matter like Kashmir, government ministers said as they told India to stay away from the troubled holiday destination.
The remarks came from Fisheries and Agriculture Minister Dr Mohamed Shainee, who has previously drawn parallels between the state of emergency in the Maldives and the one in France.
Kashmir has been a flashpoint between nuclear-armed neighbours India and Pakistan for decades, with both countries laying claim to the territory in its entirety. Tens of thousands of people have died in the violence, not including those who have disappeared due to the conflict.
“Why haven’t we gone into the Kashmir issue … and asked to be (an) intermediary? Because they are internal matters … India should stay away from our issue,” Shainee told visiting Indian journalists on Wednesday, in what appeared to be the first formal news briefing with international journalists since a state of emergency was declared more than a month ago. “We are independent and capable of dealing with the situation. If we need help, we will let India know.”
Shainee was one of eight ministers who briefed foreign media to reassure them about the situation and stress the normality of life outside Malé, which has borne the brunt of the turmoil since a shock Supreme Court ruling and state of emergency declaration.
India has urged President Abdulla Yameen to obey the court order and lift the state of emergency, pleas he has ignored. It has also expressed its “deep dismay” about the extension, earning an extraordinary slap from Malé.
“The provocative reference to Kashmir seems intended to drive home the point that Yameen will continue to keep opposition leaders out of the political field and signals defiance against India’s efforts to get him to release arrested leaders like Mohammed Nasheed, Abdul Gayoom and Supreme Court two judges,” the Times of India reported.
Ministers dismissed allegations from ex-president Nasheed that the Maldives government was moving closer to China, said the Indian Express, with the delegation promising the country would never cause “a threat to India” and would still follow its ‘India First’ policy.
“Maldives continues to consider India as a big brother, not China,” the newspaper cited Shainee as saying.
The public defiance of Yameen’s ministers further complicate the situation for India, said the Times of India, given the widespread impression that the Maldivian government is counting on backing from China, which asked outside powers to stay away from the situation.