Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration denied Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad a right to fly over India during his recent trip to Pakistan to discuss possibilities of enhanced bilateral trade and development and to attend the country’s National Day Parade on March 23.
Sources privy to the development told The News that the permission was withdrawn at the last minute, forcing the Malaysian premier to take a much longer route over the Arabian Sea and cruise as far as Oman before returning to Islamabad.
International relations analysts say the incident “if happened” is “fairly rare” as India and Malaysia have a history of maintaining friendly ties over the years. Both countries have a bilateral trade worth over $10 billion and were hoping to take it to $25 billion by 2020.
One possible reason for taking the unprecedented and undiplomatic step by Prime Minister Modi is Prime Minister Mohamad’s “preference” to Pakistan over India. Elizabeth Roche, an Indian journalist, wrote during the third visit to India by Premier Mohamad’s predecessor Najib Razak in 2017: “Many in the government and the Indian strategic community agree that bilateral ties under [former] Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who was in power from 1981 to 2003, were far from satisfactory — mainly due to a perceived tilt towards India’s arch rival Pakistan.”
Ties between Malaysia and India showed a “marked upswing” during Najib Razak’s government. Razak visited India multiple times and during his last trip in 2017, Malaysian businessmen signed deals worth $36 billion in areas like infrastructure development, food security and building of smart cities.
A senior retired Pakistani diplomat said such a development was very rare between countries that were not overtly engaged in hostilities against each other. Yes, it can happen during “erratic” time as we have between Pakistan and India at the moment but that also shows the meanness of the Modi administration, he said.
Malaysia is home to over 1.7 million Hindus of Indian origin who make up almost 86 percent of all the Hindus in the country. Prime Minister Mohamad himself is of Indian origin. His grandfather, Iskandar, was brought to Malaya in the late 1870s by the British East India Company from Kerala in south India to Kedeh royal palace as an English language tutor.
Source : The News