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Did India go wrong on Maldives?


Altamash Hashmi, Surya Gangadharan, CNN-IBN
Feb 09, 2012 at 11:52pm IST

New Delhi: India has military deployment plans in place for exigencies in the neighbourhood. Provided the Maldivian government requested such assistance, India could have intervened.

As violence swept through Maldives and President Mohammed Nasheed resigned, Indian Navy sources confirmed that they were on standby, primed for movement if required.

In fact, sources in the Prime Minister's Office told CNN-IBN that they were worried about Islamic radicalism and that a military plan had been readied. This came after the Prime Minister had congratulated the new president Waheed.

The Ministry of External Affairs had, from day one, maintained that it was an internal affair of Maldives, while also acknowledging the role of the Indian High Commission in brokering a settlement between the ruling and opposition parties.

But the settlement collapsed within hours when Nasheed claimed he had to quit at gunpoint. It reinforced the impression, not for the first time, that India had got it wrong in its backyard where the strategic stakes are huge.

The opposition to President Nasheed had been brewing for many months and he has even been accused of acting unconstitutionally.

This raises a lot of questions for India:

- Was India alert to growing political frictions?

- Did India tender a proper advice to Nasheed?

- Did Nasheed respond to India's concerns?

- Did India act too late?

Expert N Satyamurthy said, "India is engaged with various political players in Maldives. At the end of the day, it's a domestic political situation where both the Constitution and polity have to find a solution. I guess India will take an initiative to find a peaceful solution to the crisis."

Reports say the UK is also involved in efforts to defuse the situation and so is the UN. It's not clear if the Chinese have also got in given their interest in using Maldives as a naval base. The more may not necessarily be merrier for India in this case.

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