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Trump and Modi discuss South Asian politics over phone call

South Asian
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News Desk |

On 8th February 2018, the White House reported that the leaders of the world’s two largest democracies Trump and Modi discussed the prevailing crises in the Maldives, the 16 year long war in Afghanistan, the plight of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar and North Korea on a phone call. They expressed their concerns over the political situation in Maldives aiming at enhancing security in the Indo-Pacific region and valuing democratic institutions and the rule of law.

The aspiration of both countries is to counter China’s growing global influence. The Maldives, best known for it’s tourist resorts, has become another arena of contention for India and China after it applauded Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative to build trade and transport links across Asia and beyond. India fears that the Maldives is being encircled by Chinese-influence.

Both leaders continue to introduce policies that are trying to isolate Pakistan and stop China from becoming an economic super power through the success of the One Belt One Road project.

While India tries to establish itself as the pre-eminent power in the Indian Ocean region, the Maldives is becoming increasingly important. The Maldives has been facing a political crisis since the introduction of a state of emergency across the holiday islands on Monday, prompted heavily-armed troops to storm the country’s top court and arrest the former president, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Read more: Aid suspension to Pakistan has not paid off, claims US

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Current President Abdulla Yameen has been in power since 2013, following dubious elections. He has also been accused of jailing critics, cracking down on dissent and ultimately eroding the country’s democratic process. The Maldives’ Supreme Court Chief Justice Abdullah Saeed and another judge, Ali Hameed, were arrested hours after Yameen declared a state of emergency. External powers; India, the US and the UK have all urged Yameen to honor the rule of law and free the captives.

The US and India address all the stakeholders, such as China, Russia and most importantly Pakistan on the same ground, the peace and stability in Afghanistan may remain a challenging factor for years to come.

The Maldives is a well-known holiday destination particularly among Chinese and British tourists and the ongoing political havoc may disrupt the tourism season in the tropical islands. Approximately, 1.4 million tourists from all over the world have traveled to the Indian Ocean islands in 2017. In 2016, according to Reuters the Maldives earned $2.7 billion from tourists visiting luxury hotels and scuba diving resorts.

Read more: Pakistan complicates US’ Afghan mission

After discussing their view on the crisis in the Maldives, Modi and Trump both shared their views on Myanmar and ways to address the plight of the Rohingya refugees. Up till now, there are some 680,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh putting enormous pressure on the economy of the country. Recently Myanmar and Bangladesh agreed on a roadmap to the return of these refugees to their homes in Myanmar. The US believes that this is not the right time for the return of the Rohingya refugees.

While India tries to establish itself as the pre-eminent power in the Indian Ocean region, the Maldives is becoming increasingly important.

Later on, both leaders affirmed their commitment to support Afghanistan’s security and stability. India has increased its financial assistance to Afghanistan and in 2016 also committed to ship more arms. The growing influence of India in Afghanistan with the robust US backing is raising serious concerns in Pakistan. In the case of Afghanistan merely the US and India cannot bring peace and prosperity. Unless the US and India address all the stakeholders, such as China, Russia and most importantly Pakistan on the same ground, the peace and stability in Afghanistan may remain a challenging factor for years to come.

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The increasing friendship between the two extremist leaders Modi and Trump can be seen as a cause of concern for Pakistan. Both leaders continue to introduce policies that are trying to isolate Pakistan and stop China from becoming an economic super power through the success of the One Belt One Road project.


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