In the midst of ongoing diplomatic recalibrations involving the Maldives, India, and China, former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed has issued a cautionary statement regarding the Maldives’ approach towards India. His comments add a new dimension to the recent request by the current President, Dr Mohamed Muizzu, for the withdrawal of Indian troops from the Maldives.

President Muizzu’s directive for India to pull back its 88 military personnel by March 15 has been a subject of intense debate and speculation. This move, aligning with his campaign promise to eliminate foreign military presence, gained further complexity following his state visit to China.

Amidst these developments, China Daily, associated with the Chinese Communist Party, has outrightly rejected claims of Beijing’s involvement in the Maldives’ decision. The newspaper stressed President Muizzu’s commitment to a sovereign Maldivian territory, free from foreign military influence.

Adding to this narrative, former President Nasheed, known for his pro-India stance during his tenure, has voiced concerns over the potential fallout of the current administration’s foreign policy decisions. 

In a post on X, the former President emphasised the importance of maintaining respectful and strategic relations with India. Nasheed highlighted that Maldivians have historically achieved self-rule through tact and strategy, rather than brute strength. He warned that a lack of foresight and a confrontational approach towards India could lead to adverse consequences for the Maldives.

Nasheed’s remarks serve as a reminder of the delicate balance required in international diplomacy, especially for a nation like the Maldives, situated in a geopolitically sensitive region. His emphasis on the need to “afford India respect at all times” reflects the longstanding ties and mutual interests that have characterised Maldivian-Indian relations.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs has recognised the discussions on troop withdrawal, while also highlighting ongoing cooperation in humanitarian and medical assistance. Both nations have expressed a willingness to fast-track the withdrawal process, maintaining strong bilateral relations.