New Delhi: Denying any strategic tilt towards China, the former President of Maldives, Mr Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, today said his country is welcoming Chinese proposals because it finds them “more attractive”.
Delivering a lecture on “Islam – A religion of peace” at Observer Research Foundation today, Mr Gayoom, who is now president of the ruling party, Progressive Maldives Party, said his country welcomes business proposals from all countries.
“We have said so many times, businessmen from India are welcome, as business from other countries like Russia, China. We are open to all. But the proposals have to be reasonable and attractive. We find proposals from China more attractive,” Mr Gayoom, who was the Maldives President for 30 years before being dethroned by Mohammad Anni Nasheed, said replying to questions.
“We a small country which needs development. We welcome all countries, and decide on proposals based on their merits,” Mr Gayoom said pointing out that his country has been and will remain a strong partner with India.
“India was and will remain the most important strategi8c partner to Maldives, Mr Gayoom said when asked about Maldives “overtures” towards China. He denied his country is showing any overtures to China.
He said it is not wise to reject “attractive” Chinese proposals as it would be seen as rejecting economically better proposals besides the country losing economically.
Mr Gayoom said he is worried about the future of the SAARC which, according to him, “has lost track of what we are doing to fulfil the promises we had made in the beginning”.
Regarding the domestic situation in his country, Mr Gayoom denied there having any fear among people to talk about anything. People are free to discuss anything, and “you can see in newspapers people making allegations against the ministers and even the President,” he said.
He said the government is in talks with the MDP leaders regarding the future of Nasheed’s jail term. He pointed out that according to law, Mr Nasheed will be put to jail once he returns from abroad, where he had gone on humanitarian grounds for medical treatment, unless the Supreme Court, which is reviewing the case now, reverses the lower court judgment.
He criticised Mr Nasheed for misusing the opportunity given to him for medical treat. He is doing everything except meeting medical doctors. He is using the occasion for political purposes and damaging the image of the country.
“I can’t believe what is going on there (in London). The (British) PM is meeting him, an accused. What kind of message the PM is sending across the world?” Mr Gayoom asked.
Mr Gayoom blamed “ignorance” of the tenets of Islam for the violence going on in the name of religion. He said in Islam, killing even one person is like killing the humanity. The Islam is against any kind of violence against children, women, other weaker sections, etc. It is also against conversion and killings of people from other religion, he said.
He said the ISIS, which is acting against the tenets of Islam and also damaging the religion of peace and magnanimity, is actually acquiring territories and wealth. He pointed out that for this purpose, they are also using hundreds of European mercenaries, belonging to other religions. He described it as a complex situation.
Mr Gayoom expressed regret over the misuse of “jihad” which in Islam is only allowed as an act of self-defence in the event of a threat of aggression.