Shahid: Belittling India’s leaders will also disrupt relations with other countries

Then-Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid speaking at the campaign rally held in Kulhudhuffushi City on September 4, 2023. (Photo/MDP)

Maldivian government officials belittling India’s leaders will not only disrupt Maldives-India ties, but also relations with other countries, says Abdulla Shahid, the leader of the main opposition MDP.

In an interview to RaajjeTV on Tuesday night, Shahid, the country’s former foreign minister, said that he finds disparaging remarks against countries deeply concerning.

He said that the Maldives, over the last 50 years, had established itself as a nation that can work closely with all foreign countries, and also stressed the country’s dependency on tourism.

He referred to the incident back in January when three deputy ministers made the derogatory remarks against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on social media platform X, in response to a video promoting tourism in Lakshadweep.

 “Its not only the relations with India that deteriorates when such remarks are made against Indian leaders. Other countries would also judge us,” he said.

He said that such changes in perception by foreign governments will be mirrored by the general population of the countries.

“The ultimate outcome will be a detrimental impact on the income of regular Maldivian citizens,” he said.

Shahid said that countries must respect each other.

Speaking further, Shahid criticized President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu’s promise to share details regarding the spending on government overseas trips.

He accused President Muizzu of failing to share details regarding the agreements signed between Maldives and China during his state visit to Beijing or agreements during any official visit overseas.

“What the government is going is they are going on one trip after the other. But they aren’t disclosing any information regarding these trips,” he said.

The social media comments in January by Malsha Shareef, Mariyam Shiuna and Abdulla Mahzoom Majid – three deputy ministers at the Youth Ministry – sparked a diplomatic row, with Male’ and New Delhi summoning each other’s envoys.

The three ministers were subsequently suspended, and the Maldivian Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that the opinions were personal, and do not represent the views of the Maldivian government.