Parliament Speaker, former President Mohamed Nasheed said on Monday that the Maldivian people will have a hard time achieving a “rosy picture” if the country quarrels with its neighbor India.
He made the remark during a ceremony held at the national football stadium on Monday evening to hand over fitness equipment for outdoor gyms in 61 Maldivian islands procured with grant assistance from India.
Speaking at the ceremony, Nasheed said that India is a wealthy nation, experiencing rapid development. He said that where Maldives’ gross domestic product reaches USD 5 billion, the gross domestic product of the Indian city Trivandrum alone reaches USD 30 billion.
“We are witnesses to this rapid development. We know the Maldivian people want an improvement to their general living standards; to have money in their pockets, to have employment opportunities, to have housing, to have good health, to educate their children. The Maldivian people have always appealed to give them hope, to give them prosperous lives,” he said.
Nasheed said that the hopes and aspirations for prosperity can be achieved through India, and that it requires a change in mindset.
“We can find our place in the Indian Ocean and the world stage. This place… In my opinion, we will have a hard time achieving this rosy picture if we were to quarrel with India or act in a spirit of resistance or in a manner which displeases [India],” he said, in a ceremony attended by Indian High Commissioner Sunjay Sudhir, Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid, Sports Minister Ahmed Mahloof, and other high-level government officials.
“We must drown grasping to outdated views or living our murky lives. We must employ wisdom in order to do right by our children and the children of our children. I am certain that our income will increase if we join in on India’s development.”
Nasheed said the Maldivian nationality is based on preserving the Islamic faith, independence and sovereignty, and that the independence of Maldives can only be maintained with the support of India.
“The irrefutable truth evident from relations between Maldives and India is that, one of the wisest courses of action to maintain Maldives’ independence is to take measured decisions and work alongside India,” he said.
Noting the strategic importance of the geographical location of Maldives, Nasheed said that all international trade ships in the region need to pass through Maldives, making the country’s ‘job’ as India’s neighbor all the more crucial.
“From east to west and from west to east, almost all trade [ships] passes through Maldives. Therefore, Maldives’ people and rulers have always maintained its job as neighbors to India, and necessary considerations and wisdom with being a country of this Indian Ocean,” he said.
Nasheed said that Maldives and India has always enjoyed close relations, and was certain that the relations have been further reinforced in recent times.