Thu, February 09, 2012
World > Asia-Pacific > Maldives crisis - Trouble in paradise

Maldives turmoil renews Indian worry about regional stability

2012-02-08 08:27:04 GMT2012-02-08 16:27:04(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

by Jit Kumar, Wu Qiang

NEW DELHI, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- Russian literary master Leon Tolstoi once said that all happy families are alike whereas every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. South Asia or the Indian subcontinent somewhat reflects the latter as well, like many other parts of the world.

Tuesday's turmoil in the island nation of Maldives again showed a collection of unhappy neighbors -- unhappy with each other and unhappy among themselves.

Grappling with internal crisis and as a result hampering economic development is a chronical problem for South Asian countries, according to political analysts here.

After decades of civil war, Sri Lanka has regained stability and is seeking economic recovery and rehabilitation of war-torn areas in the north.

Pakistan is fighting with Islamic extremism for nearly two decades with a prolonged war waged by NATO in its western neighbor Afghanistan. Rumors of military taking over again gained front pages of Indian newspapers last month, against the background of a renewed Pakistan-U.S. tension of relations.

"Pakistan has a democratic government but it's also tackling with Taliban and al-Qaida militants causing blasts -- almost on a regular basis -- in the country. Besides, it is faced with NATO operation on its border on a daily basis, while Islamic militant groups from outside the country are active there," said Professor Ajay Singh, a Delhi-based political analyst.

After a space of nearly two years when its capital saw violent fighting between the army and dissident soldiers, Bangladesh army last month claimed to have foiled a coup planned against the government of Hasina, saying the attempt by some fanatic military officers had been thwarted by the "whole-hearted efforts of army soldiers".

"In recent years, certain government policies, such as its attempts to push Bangladesh in a more secular direction and its closeness to neighboring India, have proved divisive. Islamist groups openly challenged the government and it seems the discord spread to elements of the army," said Professor S.K. Gupta, a South Asia analyst.

Nepal, another India's close neighbor, is also troubled by political uncertainty but it is trying its best to return from the edge by experimenting with a democratic system, according to the experts.

"The decade long civil war transformed Nepal from a monarchy into a republic in 2008. But internal political crisis has grappled the Himalayan nation, though India is playing the role of a big brother to stabilize the country. India wants Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai's government stays on even though there are some vocal Maoist factions stridently opposed to any agreement with ' hegemonic' New Delhi," said Professor Singh.

In fact, late last year, India agreed to provide 250 million U. S. dollars in credit for developing Nepal's infrastructure.

"New Delhi's 'generosity' is intended to free Indo-Nepal relations from political nettles and ground it in economic realities that make Nepal an attractive investment destination for countries. Nepal's economic partnership with India augurs well for both the neighboring nations," said Professor Singh.

Cut to Maldives.

The Indian Ocean nation's first democratically elected President Mohamed Nasheed Tuesday resigned bowing to pressure following police mutiny and weeks of protest over his controversial decision to sack a criminal judge he had accused of favoring the opposition.

"Though it can't be called a military coup of sorts, trouble in Maldives is trouble in the Indian subcontinent. More or less a peaceful nation, Maldives is strategically important to India's security being in the backyard. For India, which has close security and trade links with Maldives and is now poised to provide greater developmental assistance after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit during the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit, negatives have emerged from the sudden turn of events Tuesday," said Basab Sen Sharma, a former Mumbai University political teacher.

"As I have always said, we live in perhaps the most troubled neighborhood in the world. In this neighborhood there are countries with governments that are extremely fragile and all this increases the level of threat to our security and our defense," Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram once said.

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