NEW DELHI: The Maldives came out in strong defence of New Delhi to counter a Pakistani diplomatic onslaught, at a recent Organisation of Islamic Cooperation meeting, over the treatment of minorities and alleged Islamophobia in India.
The Maldives asserted that it was incorrect to single out India for promoting Islamophobia.
Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN, Munir Akram, claimed at a recent online meeting of OIC states that India was actively promoting an Islamophobic agenda. Contradicting Pakistan, the Maldives said India is the world’s largest democracy and home to over 200 million Muslims and alleging Islamophobia would be factually incorrect and detrimental to religious harmony in South Asia.
The Maldives also said that a disinformation campaign on social media should not be construed as representative of the feeling of 1.3 billion people in India. The island nation noted that India has developed stronger ties with Islamic nations such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan and Palestine in recent years. These countries have honoured Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with their highest civilian awards.The Maldives also said South Asian countries should find ways to work together, hinting that Pakistan should adopt a more accommodative approach.
The Maldives has now joined other countries in the OIC, which has refused to toe Pakistan’s line against India over the past few years. India’s relations with the Maldives have seen an upswing since the change of guard in the island nation in 2018, with New Delhi and Male reviving their old strategic partnership. The Maldives has adopted a cautious approach towards China since the charge of guard.
India, as a net security provider in the Indian Ocean Region, recently sent its naval ship ‘Kesari’ to the Maldives, Mauritius, Madagascar, Comoros and Seychelles, carrying on board two medical assistance teams and consignments of Covid-19-related medicines. The ship is delivering about 600 tonnes of food items to the Maldives. This is the first time that a single assistance mission is covering all the island countries of southern and western Indian Ocean in one go, including Madagascar and Comoros.