New Delhi: Making it clear that prosperity of
South Asia is linked to relations between India and Pakistan,
Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed Tuesday pressed the two
countries to develop good ties and felt it was "doable".
He said the two countries should work from grassroots
upwards to develop ties and in this regard suggested that
Indian multinationals should invest in Pakistan.
The 43-year-old leader, whose country will host the next
SAARC Summit next year, noted that India is witnessing rapid
growth and it should "drag" its neighbours to be part of its
economic progress to enable them to take advantage of it.
"Good relationship between India and Pakistan is
important for SAARC and I think it is achievable and doable,"
he said in an interview here.
Nasheed, who met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,
emphasised that good relations between India and Pakistan are
necessary for strengthening of the SAARC, particularly to
boost intra-regional trade and build connectivity.
He pitched for increased interactions and exchanges
between the entrepreneurs and other sections of India and
Pakistan to develop friendly ties.
The Maldivian leader had surprised everyone during SAARC
Summit in Bhutan in April when he said the Prime Ministers of
India and Pakistan should talk.
Recalling his advocacy at the SAARC Summit, he said he
had to call "a spade a spade" to break the "impasse" as he
felt that the Prime Ministers of the two countries had so much
to talk about, especially as they were born in the same
village in Pakistan.
Observing that agreements often get stuck in wordings,
the Maldivian President said India and Pakistan should "try
and see if grassroots can work out" instead of trying to have
a settlement in a huge, big forum.
"Let`s get the basics moving and then the politicians,
strategists and thinkers who are trying to draw up a document
(can build on that)," said Nasheed, who spent several years in
jail as the main opposition leader before defeating long-time
incumbent Muamoon Abdul Gayoom to become the President in
He noted that India is progressing rapidly and its
neighbours could take advantage of this, a view which New
Delhi has been trying to promote with countries of the region
"I just think India has to drag everyone else along and
it can. It has the necessary momentum. It has strength to do
that," he said.
When referred to allegations by some South Asian nations
that India tries to play a "big brother" and "hegemonise"
smaller neighbours, Nasheed said he did not feel so.
Instead, he said India and particularly Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh have been making efforts to "go out of way" to
reach out to smaller countries.
"That kind of attitude is always visible from India,"
said the Maldivian leader, who has spent a number of years in
jail as opposition leader before becoming the President.
"India is a very strong economic power, a super power
and in my understanding and my estimation, it is a very
understanding country specially for other small countries," he