Situated in the Arabian Sea, Maldives is considered one of the most beautiful island countries comprising of almost twenty six islands. With respect to its area and population, it is ranked as the smallest Asian country. The total land of Maldives is 298 km and the population is about 428000. Geographically Maldives is a ‘dispersed’ country with reference to its land and its population. Malé, the capital of Maldives is known as the ‘King’s Island’ for its central location. Another interesting fact about Maldives is that it is the country which has the highest divorce rate all over the world. According to a report prepared and issued by the UN, the divorce rate in Maldives is10.97 divorces per 1,000 inhabitants per year. After Maldives comes Belarus with 4.63 and then United States with 4.34. Tourism is the basic source of income for the country and for the people. According to a report Maldives hosted 1.2 million visitors last year, including over 30,000 Americans. Overall, Maldives is a peaceful country with no security or terrorist’s threats though there had been some incidents of religious extremism in the past. At present this paradise on the earth Maldives is facing some serious issues rather crisis of political nature. According to the details provided by the media the crisis started when President Abdulla Yameen decided to disobey the Supreme Court’s orders to release 9 political prisoners and reinstate 12 parliament members. The court’s decision might give the opposition control of the chamber and potentially pave the way for Yameen’s impeachment; feared the President Abdullah Yameen. To avoid the apprehended situation, the President declared a state of emergency and ordered the arrest of two judges of the Supreme Court of the Maldives, including Chief Justice of the Maldives Abdulla Saeed and Justice Ali Hameed Mohamed and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom on 5th February 2018. This decision of President Abdullah Yameen gave birth to a situation of protest but at a very small level. It is being expected that things would be soon back to the normal.
Though this conflict or crisis is simply an internal power struggle between the Supreme Court and the government of the Maldives but the slave of its hegemonic desires India is trying to exploit the situation and searching ways for intervention and intrusion into the affairs of the Maldives. Almost thirty years back India had launched Operation Cactus on the night of 3rd November 1988, foiled an attempted coup and reinstalled the government of the then-president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. The same story is being repeated now with the help of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom who is the leader of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). This party has inclination towards India and after the arrest of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom it has given an SOS call to India and asked it to intervene militarily and to end the crisis, as India did 30 years ago. Experts say that Indian attempt of interference in the Maldives affairs would simply create a war-like situation between China and India and the Maldives would be a battlefield if the situation gets out of control.
It is a very old desire of India to keep Maldives and other countries of the same status under her total command and control by installing a pro India government there. The Global Times said in a recent editorial, “India has a strong desire to control all South Asian countries. It regards the region as its backyard. New Delhi is particularly sensitive to any endeavor by small South Asian states toward independence and autonomy, especially ties with other major powers. All small South Asian nations want to extricate themselves from India’s excessive leverage.” Particularly in case of the Maldives, India has some very alarming type of fears and apprehensions with reference to the increasing Sino-Maldivian closeness. On request of the Maldivian government, China has consented on doing co-operation in construction of a port in Northern Atoll. Moreover last year on 8th December, 2017 a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was also signed between the Maldives and China during Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen’s four-day visit to Beijing. By signing this agreement, the Maldives became the second South Asian country after Pakistan to sign an FTA with China. This deal also proved a ‘stunning blow’ for India. Earlier in August 2017, the Maldives permitted three Chinese warships to visit the country though India had expressed its strong resentment over the decision. Same is the approach of India towards the countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Myanmar and even towards Bangladesh. A recent report on Indian hegemonic designs in the South Asian region says, “India, despite having friendly ties with Pro-India Bangladeshi government lead by Awami League, is exerting pressure to resolve Teesta river dispute on Indian terms.” India must review its hegemonic approach towards its neighbouring countries for the peace and prosperity of the South-Asia.