India Should Act as Guarantor of Peace and Stability in Indian Ocean Region: Abdulla Shamaal

Foreign Affairs

New Delhi: The Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) organised a lecture by Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), Maj Gen Abdulla Shamaal, on ‘National Security Vulnerabilities: Issues for Small States’ in New Delhi on July 5.

Speaking about Maldives’ ‘India First Policy’, Maj Gen Shamaal acknowledged India as a regional security provider and observed that India has often been a first responder to crises in the region and it should play a key role as a guarantor of peace and stability in the Indian Ocean region.

He said countries in the region could draw many positive lessons from Indian culture and its democratic traditions.

Maj Gen Shamaal said smaller states might lack the physical attributes of larger states and lack economic power, but have strategic significance that could be leveraged against in their dealings with larger countries.

Smaller states require a stable regional and international order to grow as they need to expand their influence in the international arena and also value their autonomy in decision making, he argued.

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He held radicalisation and violent extremism posed a critical threat to the states in the region and citing the case of the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka he said that it was a very complex and complicated issue which required multi-domain, multi-agency and multi-structural approach by various states to counter this menace, with a “whole of Government” and “Whole of Society” approach.

Maj Gen Shamaal said the international environment today is extremely turbulent and volatile due to multi-layered complexities and uncertainties which often become unmanageable because of incomplete and ambiguous information sharing by states and security agencies. Therefore, there was a need for collective action, he emphasised.

He regarded climate change as the important threat being faced by Maldives and said the rising water levels and temperatures are posing a critical threat to the marine ecology around Maldives as well as threatening to submerge many islands.

Director General, IDSA, Amb. Sujan R. Chinoy speaking on the occasion said India has all along supported Maldives’ transition to democracy and has assisted in strengthening institutions on the basis of Maldives’ priorities. It has also provided critical help to Maldives in times of crises in 1988, during Tsunami 2004 and the water crisis in 2014.

Amb. Chinoy said India’s Neighbourhood First policy and its emphasis on shared prosperity and religion complements Maldives India First Policy. India is now strengthening defence and security ties with the Island nation by working together on maritime domain awareness, coordinated patrolling, Aerial surveillance, information exchange etc.

Referring to close defence and security ties between India and Maldives, Amb. Chinoy said stronger India-Maldives ties could strengthen multi-polarity in the Indo-Pacific region and together the two countries could build an open and inclusive strategic and economic architecture.

The lecture was a part of the Eminent Persons’ Lecture Series at IDSA and was attended by eminent personalities from the strategic community.

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