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Fears Of Possible Pakistanization Of Maldives – Analysis


There has been disquiet among the large number of supporters of former Maldivian President Mohammed Nasheed over indications that appeared on February 11,2012, that India, the US and the European Union countries have got themselves reconciled to the continuance of Dr.Mohammad Waheed Hasan as the President of the Maldives.

While India seems to support Nasheed’s demand for advanced elections within two months, it does not seem to support his demand that Waheed should not continue as the President during this period and that an interim President acceptable to all political parties should take over and supervise the holding of the elections.

The US and the EU do not seem to be prepared to support the demand for advanced elections. However, they do support Nasheed’s demand for an independent enquiry into the events that led to the resignation of Nasheed, who has been alleging that he was forced to resign at gun point by sections of the Police and the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF ).Waheed has expressed himself as amenable to the idea of an independent enquiry under him as the President.


The three major international players — India, the US and the EU — who have been trying to bring about an understanding among all parties on the future course of action without questioning the legitimacy of Dr.Waheed, seem to feel comfortable with 59-year-old Waheed despite his total lack of a political and popular base in the Maldives.

The US knows Dr.Waheed quite well. He graduated in English from the American University of Beirut and subsequently did his doctorate in Education from the Stanford University of the US. He had served in the UN from 1991 to 2005—- as the UNICEF representative in Tanzania, Bangladesh, Nepal and Afghanistan . He had headed the UN office in Kathmandu and Kabul. During his posting of three years in Kabul, he had developed a good personal equation with US civilian bureaucrats and military officers stationed there.

Nobody questions Dr.Waheed’s credentials as a highly educated and progressive-minded former international bureaucrat, who had seen first hand the damage done to Afghan society by the Taliban. Left to himself, he is unlikely to allow the radicalisation and Talibanisation of Islam in the Maldives.

But will he be left to himself? Will he be able to assert his independence without a base of political support and without any public support in the Maldives? His first appointments to the so-called National Unity Government, which is still in the process of formation, do not inspire confidence.

Many suspect that radical Islamists and their sympathisers in the Police and the MNDF manipulated the public protests against Nasheed’s arbitrary style of functioning in such a manner as to bring about the exit of Nasheed, whose advocacy of a progressive Islam and close relations with Israel, were not liked by them.

They feel that what we are seeing in the Maldives is the beginning of an under-the-surface confrontation between progressive Islamists and radical, pro-Taliban Islamists behind the façade of the presidency of progressive Waheed.

Waheed’s appointment of Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed as the Minister for Home Affairs and Col (retd) Mohammed Nazim as the Defence Minister should be a matter of concern to India. Dr. Jameel is the Vice-President of the Dhivehi Quamee Party (DQP) . A direct descendant of Sultan Giyasuddin, he was born in Fuvamulah, in southern Maldives. He studied in Pakistan, Malaysia and the UK. He obtained a PhD in Criminal Law from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) – University of London on a merit scholarship awarded by the Commonwealth.

Dr Jameel previously served as the Minister of Justice under former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, and briefly as the Minister of Civil Aviation and Communication under Nasheed from November 12,2008, to May 30,2009. He was previously known as a progressive Muslim. In July 2007, he defied radical Islamists and nominated three women judges, the first time the Maldives had admitted women to the judiciary. He resigned as the Minister of Justice the same year after accusing Gayoom of failing to take action against rising Islamic militancy and blocking political reforms.

Since he parted company with Nasheed, he has been holding and expressing views which would bring comfort to the radical Islamists. His authorship was suspected behind a pamphlet which accused Nasheed of having entered into a conspiracy with the Jews and the Christians in order to contaminate the Maldivian Islamic society. He has been a critic of the preference allegedly given by Nasheed to the Indian private sector for the execution of development projects in the Maldives, particularly one for the modernisation of Male’s international airport.

Waheed was asked about it during one of his interactions with the media after taking over. His reply was evasive. He said his approach to the US $ 400 million investment project for the modernisation of the airport by the Indian infrastructure company GMR would not be political, but economic . He added: “Our objective will be to resolve concerns of the public regarding the company.”

This was implicit support for Jameel’s past allegations that Nasheed’s attitude to the Indian project was influenced not by considerations of economic benefit, but by pro-India political considerations.

One has the impression that while the US does not want to question the legitimacy of Waheed as the President, it has concerns over his appointment of Jameel as the Home Minister. While interacting with the media at Male on February 11, Robert Blake, US Assistant Secretary of State, reportedly expressed concern over the “anti-semetic commentary” and strongly condemned it. He also praised Nasheed’s Government “for working to improve [the country’s] relationship with Israel and show themselves as a modern and progressive government.”

Another controversial induction into the new Cabinet by Waheed has been that of Col.(retd) Mohammed Nazim, who was removed from the MNDF by Nasheed in May last because of his alleged insubordination. Since his removal, he has allegedly been trying to create disaffection in the MNDF and the Police against Nasheed. Many accounts on the events that preceded the exit of Nasheed agree that Nazim played an active role in instigating a group of about 70 MNDF personnel not to act against the revolting police officers as demanded by Nasheed.

Whether one calls it an indirect coup or not to force a democratically elected President to leave office, it is clear that a group of MNDF officers played a dubious political role in assisting the anti-Nasheed opposition at a critical moment. The Maldives thus faces two evils — the beginnings of a radical Islam and a politicised Army. Are we seeing a process similar to the politicisation of the Pakistan Army in the 1950s and the Bangladesh Army in the 1970s? That should be a question of concern to India.

Writing in the “Minivan News”, a pro-Nasheed daily, on February 12, Yameen Rashid, a local commentator, said:

“Other countries in the region, such as Pakistan, have experimented with letting the armed forces dictate the rulers of the country. And in the bargain, Pakistan has become a failed democracy mired in chaos and conflict.

“It is therefore tragic that the Maldives is all set to follow in Pakistan’s footsteps, without even having experienced two election cycles.

“Could future political parties in the Maldives come to power simply by winning influence in the police and armed forces? Will the demands of a few hundred uniformed personnel strip 300,000 people of their democratic verdict?

“If the currently installed government is granted legitimacy, what would stop the country’s defense forces from pointing a gun at future elected governments?

“The Maldivian constitution says that the ultimate power rests with the people, and the people alone. This is the central tenet of the constitution – the one line that decides that we the people are in charge of our democracy.

“However, if this coup – this travesty – is allowed to take place unopposed, then we would have set the unwelcome precedent that a few men with guns can override the mandate of the people.”

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B. Raman

B. Raman (August 14, 1936 – June 16, 2013) was Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai and Associate, Chennai Centre For China Studies.

3 thoughts on “Fears Of Possible Pakistanization Of Maldives – Analysis

  • February 13, 2012 at 10:34 am

    Mr Raman, get the facts correct, Majority of Maldivians do not want nasheed as President, he is a liar, decieved his people again and again..

  • February 13, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    B Raman holds a very good analytical insight on such matters of Islamic politics in/around India
    and Pakistan subcontinent area. This is an excellent analysis.

    “They feel that what we are seeing in the Maldives is the beginning of an under-the-surface confrontation between progressive Islamists and radical, pro-Taliban Islamists behind the façade of the presidency of progressive Waheed.”

    I just selected this one para out of his entire unparalleled post and it practically could be called the summum bonum of it. The Islamic law in any country where the Islam dominates, can’t live in an Indian style of democracy. It goes without saying. One is just befooling oneself.

    India has very little to manouvre before the big predators who’s man is already there without wasting a minute. India must not forget that US and Indian interests are not equal or even symmetrical. US is passing through a most difficult period after WW II. Their immediate concerns in this bed are to exit from Af with dignity and impunity, if they could. Will Pak let them?

    Islam has a clear domineering attitude via Sharia. Without that Islam has no relevance. We have seen it time and again in various parts of the world and India is the best module to study this social-religious aspect. Wherever the Muslim gain majority, the Mullahs take over the upper hand and its drama has been enacted very well even in Europe and North America besides the rest of the world.

    One occasionally comes across essays making distinctions between Shias (Iran) and Sunnis (Saudi)etc but when it comes to “Islam” versus others, it melts down in one, more often than not. Hence this Maldivian upsurge must be looked like an initial Pakistani state which fast and steadily turned into an autocratic radicalised Islamic state following the footsteps of the worst Pakistani tyrant ruler Zia-ul Haq.

    His brand of Islam has surpassed the Wahabi/Salafi/Sunni/Deoband brand also. I gave it an eponym calling it Zia-ul Haqisation of Islam. Talibanisation of Islam is only an offshoot of this brand hardly appreciated by anyone. I wrote a column on it “Religion Motivation Terror and Law Part IV”. More at:

    Hence this development coinciding with the Pakistani instability must be viewed with grave concern to Indian interests.

  • February 13, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    On revisiting the crisis in Kashmir, it is apparent that till these barbarics were fighting the USSR, they remained busy in Af. Once USSR left in 1989 December, they were directed towards Kashmir under a tacit US/Pak agreement. The master US craftsman of this brain child of entire Islamic Mujahideen concept
    credit goes to the then national security adviser of President Jimmy Carter, Mr Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski. To make matters worst, it was during the same period, this brute Zia-ul Haq also became the tyrant ruler from coup despite the US displeasure. US had no choice and they wanted to get on.

    President Obama initially recruited him also but one hardly hear of Brzezinski any more. The beginning of the end was created as far as India was concerned. Hence India must not depend
    much on the super powers and look after her own interests viewing the events with her own prism.

    It was Zia who created the diehard brand of his style of Islam by organising all the splinter Islamic groups into one and making this monster fellow Salahuddin its incharge of the jihadis. It still continues unabated. Even in last two months or so including one large gathering of them in Islamabad only yesterday to cry out their wild wow against India, US and Israel as their arch enemy and hope to fight them out by jihad. I don’t understand this inborn cellular hate and its ultimate finish. Hence it is time for India to be more proactive than dogmatic.


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