MP Mavota Shareef: ‘India First’ policy is necessary

Maradhoo MP Ibrahim Shareef. (File Photo/People's Majlis)

Maradhoo MP Ibrahim Shareef (Mavota Shareef) has stated that the Maldives needs to have an ‘India First’ policy as part of its larger foreign policy.

The statement was made while speaking at the parliamentary debate held today regarding the Foreign Service Bill.

While the public continues to raise concerns over the current administration’s ‘India First’ policy, Shareef said that India is the geographically closest and the most powerful country near the Maldives – making ‘India First’ policy necessary in terms of national security and other purposes.

“Our people are concerned about the ‘India First’ policy, but it is necessary. This is as the geographical formation of the Maldives does not allow the nation to physically extend too far from where it is situated. As one of the closest countries to the Maldives in proximity that is also the strongest in the region is India – Maldives must maintain good relations with the Indian government for national security and other purposes," he said. 

He further added that adhering to the ‘India First’ policy does not mean that the Maldives abandon close diplomatic ties with other countries.

“We should maintain good diplomatic relations with China, Canada, US, the United Nations, and also the Commonwealth," he added.  

But he said that the Maldives must not exercise bias in its diplomatic relations with neighboring countries and other Islamic countries must be prioritized.

Shareef said that the Maldives has been able to remain as an independent nation because their ancestors and the previous administrations maintained fruitful diplomatic ties with other countries and that the Maldives is a small country that cannot afford to make other nations its enemy.

“We cannot survive if we point fingers at a powerful nation. Our businesses cannot expand if we make another country an enemy. The best foreign policy for the Maldives is to maintain close ties with all the countries," he said.