Career diplomat Ibrahim Shaheeb is the new High Commissioner of Maldives to India. He has served in India earlier as well as the deputy head of mission in New Delhi.
Before being appointed as the high commissioner to India, Shaheeb has been his country’s top diplomat to Singapore as well the chief of protocol and additional secretary at the ministry of foreign affairs in the Maldives.
He has completed his Master’s in Public Administration from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore.
The timing is appointment is vital as presidential elections in the Maldives are due around February 2023. Also, presently, the relations between India and Maldives are at their highest and opposition leaders are trying their best to increase anti-India campaigns.
Former President of the Maldives, Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and his political party, who are considered very close to China, are running a campaign against India’s increasing presence in the Maldives.
India-Maldives relations saw a downfall during 2012-18 when Yameen was ruling the country and much radicalization had taken place. Also, China, during this tenure, managed to increase its footprint in the area.
Presently, India has not only emerged as Maldives’ second-largest trade partner but several agreements between the two countries have been signed, seeing India investing in several important projects for the Maldives.
For India, Maldives holds strategic importance under the government’s Neighbourhood First policy due to its location in the Indian Ocean. The relationship between India-Maldives is crucial for the Indian Ocean and the region’s maritime security. Its situation at the hub of commercial sea lanes running through the Indian Ocean is very strategic.
Maldives has consistently supported India in multilateral fora on international issues, such as the UN, OIC, Commonwealth or SAARC. Presently, Maldives is reelected for the third term running as an important member of the United Nations Human Rights Council.