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Updated: October 22, 2009 02:03 IST

“Help curb illegal activity in Indian Ocean Rim”

Sandeep Dikshit
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Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed.
AP Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed.

Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed called on New Delhi to take a more active role in the Indian Ocean Rim to curb illegal activity and dispelled the impression of India having leant on Maldives to install radars on its territory.

Maldives had seven radars bought and installed with Indian assistance but “others might say India has gone there and installed these radar stations. It is not really that. It is simply a question of our asking, they didn’t ask or tell us they wanted to install radars. We took the initiative and we asked the Indian government and they were in a sense fairly hesitant,” Mr. Nasheed told The Hindu in an interview.

“We were good in presenting our case. And if we suffer, it will be a burden on India. It is a question of technology transfer and Indians have been good in supplying technology,” he clarified following reports, in a section of the global media, of Indian ‘expansionism.’

Only on Tuesday, Mr. Nasheed pointed out, did the India-Maldives security partnership lead to the capture of two rogue fishing vessels in Maldives’ waters. “We don’t go into other country’s territories and steal their resources. Everyone else is free to buy our fish but please don’t steal our fish. Thankfully because of arrangements with the Indian military and establishment, we were very successful and the people of Maldives were very happy because of this.”

Drawing attention to the dangers of piracy, Mr. Nasheed felt that India should be “very bold” and ensure that the whole of Indian Ocean Rim is secure since this could prove to be its soft underbelly. “Unless the Indian Ocean Rim countries are secure I don’t think India should feel its landmass is secure,” he said.

The Maldivian President said Male was committed to sharing information with India because “the idea is we are friends. If someone is going to come and rob you and if we know about it, we will tell you. In my mind it is very simple.”

Another red signal for the security of Maldives was coming from Pakistan. Mr. Nasheed wanted the international community including India to help Islamabad “finish” the issue of terrorism. Some people from the Maldives going to Pakistan were getting in touch with Taliban and the Al Qaeda. “As long as that goes on and there is opportunity to recruit people from elsewhere and run a terror network, it is going to be very difficult to put our house in order. So we would like to see the Pakistani military succeed in what they are doing now,” he said. “I hope the Pakistan government will push and finish the issue. And I wish the international community would assist Pakistan in doing this. And I also hope India would also assist Pakistan...”

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