In response to mounting criticism of the Solih administration's signing of classified military agreements with India, many high officials within the Solih administration took to claiming that the Yameen administration had already planned on signing those agreements, having had agreed to its terms. The Maldives Journal has obtained a classified document that demonstrate the Solih administration's claims to be false.
The classified document is a contact report prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with regards to former Foreign Minister Dr Mohamed Asim's visit to India on 10 - 12 January 2018. The contact report contains details on the official meetings held between the Indian and Maldivian governments. During the visit, Dr Asim had met with the then-Foreign Secretary Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs Vijay Gokhale, the then-External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The document, which had been classified as "Strictly Confidential", contains the points discussed in the meetings in great detail. One issue that comes to light in the report is that the previous administration had officially informed the Indian government that the Maldivian government did not wish to pursue the co-coperation of any foreign country in undertaking any of the projects for which the Solih administration have now signed classified agreements with India.
Defence Minister Mariya Didi and Chief of Defence Force Maj. Gen. Abdullah Shamal had claimed, in their statements given to the Parliament Committee on National Security Services (also known as the 241 Committee), that the hydrography survey; run by the Indian navy; had originally been agreed upon by the Yameen administration when they had signed a Defence Action Plan with India. The hydrography survey conducted by the Indian navy grants the Indian government full ownership over whatever data is collected.
However, according to the contact report, the then-High Commissioner to India, Ahmed "Andey" Mohamed, had informed the Indian government that "the Government of Maldives does not wish to pursue co-operation in undertaking [the hydrography survey] with any foreign country".
In addition, High Commissioner Mohamed had informed the Indian government that the Maldivian government did not wish to renew the agreement that allowed the Indian military to operate a helicopter in Addu City. He had also informed them that the Maldives wanted a Dornier aircraft instead.
The Yameen administration had planned to charter Dornier aircraft after dismissing the Indian military aircraft. The administration had also planned to not accept the stationing of Indian military personnel to accompany the aircraft.
"The previous government decided to get rid of the helicopters and get a Dornier", a former official of the Yameen administration told The Maldives Journal. "Not just from India. We had also requested Pakistan for an aircraft. This had been planned because there were Maldivian pilots who had been trained to fly Dorniers--so that Indian soldiers would not be stationed here under the pretext of training us to fly them."
Regardless, the Solih administration's officials and supporters have continued to lie to the media and the 241 Committee regarding the helicopter agreements. Although it is a matter of public record that the Yameen administration had formally requested the Indian government to withdraw their helicopters in 2018, Maj. Gen. Shamal had had claimed that the former government had "made no attempt" to remove the helicopters from the country. Dhiyares, the sister-newspaper of The Maldives Journal, has already reported on the on the former government's documented attempt to remove the Indian helicopters from Maldivian soil.
The contact report also mentions Uthuru Thila Falhu. The Indian government mentioned that the government of Maldives did not respond to the terms of reference submitted by the government of India regarding Uthuru Thila Falhu. The Maldivian Foreign Secretary is reported to have stated that "the Government of Maldives would not be able to provide exclusive rights to India for the UTF project as outlined in the [terms]".
High Commissioner Mohamed is reported to have said that the Maldivian government would be able to accept the terms if they were to be revised to accommodate the commercial use of UTF, without restriction to use only India and the Maldives.
Indian Foreign Secretary Dr Jaishankar is reported to have said that while India may not have any objection on wider usage, India would have "sensitivities in some third parties using [UTF]". Dr Jaishankar said that he would have to discuss with the Indian navy and come up with a proposal for consideration by the Maldivian government.
The Yameen administration never responded to the Indian government's terms.
The Solih administration, soon after its inauguration, accepted the Indian government's terms that granted India shared exclusivity over UTF, and also allowed India to station armed soldiers at the facility. The Solih administration's officials and supporters, and also the Maldivian military, were quick to label a leaked copy of a draft of the UTF agreement that had later been signed by Defence Minister Mariya Didi as a forgery.
Speaking at yesterday's session of the 241 Committee, officials of the Foreign Ministry had attempted to make strong claims that the foundations for the hydrography survey had been laid by the former government. However, once MP Ghassan Maumoon (PPM-Guraidhoo) questioned those officials based on this contact report, the officials had agreed that the Solih administration had altered the Yameen administration's policy of not co-operating with any foreign countries with regards to the hydrography survey.