Home / Chair's Blog / Iran nuclear deal and our evolving region

Iran nuclear deal and our evolving region

[featured Image: Courtesy  www.usnews.com]

After13 years in the wilderness, potentially dangerous row over Iran’s nuclear programme is hopefully coming to a close—at least for the time being. Iran has undertaken to review its nuclear research and development programme in return for lifting of crippling economic sanctions. Over play of Iranian nuclear bogey had caught the American policy makers by throat in the form of Israeli and Saudi pressure to use military option for settling the perceived Iranian nuclear threat. Likewise Iran had missed out on the dynamics of the World led by a single super power; it failed to comprehend that after making noises remaining countries of P-5+1 invariably submit to American pressure. Both sides have learnt their lessons in the form of nuclear deal.
Saudi and Israeli pressure is off the American back, and Iran hopes to ward off economic sanctions while keeping the core competencies of its nuclear programme intact. While attempting to gauge the strategic impact of the Iran nuclear deal, one is haunted by the dilemma about American as well as Iranian intent behind evolving the agreement in the form as it stand now. Is it a part of prior greater strategic understanding reached between Iran and the US, ultimately leading to gradually assigning Iran a key strategic role in the Gulf? If so, does it mean that has the US led bloc tacitly accepted the so far abhorred Iranian practices in statecraft as legitimate norms of diplomacy? OR Is it only a technical endeavour to plug in a proliferation attempt by a non-nuclear weapon state member of the NPT? If so, will Iran continue to carry the baggage of a pariah state minus the bomb phobia?
There are equally convincing arguments supporting either of the propositions. Technical parameters and performance evaluation criteria have enough elasticity embedded in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to go the either way. While implementation saga will take quite some time to unfold, all may not proceed the way it appears now. Therefore, it is necessary to evaluate the impact while keeping in mind both these streams. Even if all actors are presumed to act in good faith, which is not the likely case, the treaty execution is likely to bog down into glitches. If the subsequent events are to be governed by the first assumption then implementation appraisals shall be subjective and perceptional— more of looking the other side. However, if matters move as per the second hypothesis; then again though appraisals shall be perceptional, but this time, biased with an objective to pin-down Iran irrespective of its implementation score.
If the utopian feat of implementation of accord, to the satisfaction of both sides, is accomplished, Iran will not only be reintegrated into the global system, it will also contest the long-standing partnerships between ‘moderate’ Arab states and the Western powers. It will be able to enhance its political clout in the region and will have enhanced leverage to play a complex stabilizing-destabilizing role—depending upon the prism through which its conduct is judged. Under these circumstance Iran is poised to gain and strengthen its national power potential. There will be status enhancing changes in Iran’s regional and international standing. Iran will continue to positively evolve on both fronts – be it the extent of global integration or its regional influence.
The Iranian Foreign Minister recently stated, “The purview of our [Iran-US] constructive engagement extends far beyond nuclear negotiations.” The nuclear deal has the potential to fundamentally alter the strategic landscape in the Middle East and South Asia by initiating a new security paradigm. This does not however mean that the US would abandon Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries. At best the US policy would revert back to the ‘twin pillars’ of Iran and Saudi Arabia/GCC to protect Western interests in the Persian Gulf and the broader Middle East North Africa Region.
In the context of Afghanistan, Tehran has been engaging the Taliban and meeting their delegates; therefore the possibility of Iranian participation in the Afghan peace process, at a later stage, cannot be considered too far-fetched. India was Iran’s partners in Afghanistan in the 1990s; together they contributed towards instability of Afghanistan by nurturing erstwhile northern alliance and strengthening intra-Afghan ethnic divide. As of now, India is feeling isolated in Afghanistan with the emergence of a new axis for peace in Afghanistan, comprising Afghanistan, China, and Pakistan. Though India would like a replication of the Iran’s role of 1990s, but Iran has learnt its lessons and its recent engagements with Taliban indicate that Iran is likely to follow a different trajectory, and this time Iran would prefer to harmonize its effort with Pakistan.
With the sanctions gone, Pakistan could immensely benefit from economic relationship between the two countries. Both countries should work together to sign a free trade agreement (FTA). There is a need to dispel the impression that Gwadar and Chabahar ports are mutually exclusive; a way forward should be worked out for making these ports function in a mutually supportive way. If the issue is approached with an open mind, workable solutions could be found out. It will be in the interest of Iran to strive for a berth in China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiatives rather than following an isolationist policy with regard to Chabahar port.
In the last decade, most bilateral discussions between Iran and India had nosedived to more of talk than action. Iran matters to India not only for cheaper energy but, increasingly, as a strategic partner in Afghanistan given the shared goal of limiting the Taliban’s role. Moreover India envisages to limit Pakistan’s influence in Afghanistan after the Americans exit. Its investment in Chabahar port shall mean placing Indian assets (workers, equipment, etc.) on the ground in Iran. Under the garb of workers and technicians, India is poised to place intelligence operatives to augment its disruptive effort in Baluchistan and beyond.
India had forsaken Iran during difficult times, it voted against Iran in the IAEA, walked away from IPI project and joined the American bandwagon of sanctions by cutting its oil import from Iran. In contrast Pakistan voted in favour of Iran in the IAEA, remained steadfast in IP project and vehemently opposed any military solution to Iran’s nuclear issue. And Iran is not known for short memory.
Pakistan’s ability of maintaining a delicate balance in its relations with Iran and Saudi Arabia during Yemen crisis and its efforts for reconciliation based solution in unison with Turkey are expected to now pay back dividends and Pakistan is likely to have better leverage than India over Iran as well as Saudi Arabia in the context of Afghanistan and other regional issues.
Pakistan should make an effort to formally induct Iran into Murree peace process so that it becomes a stakeholder in the political process. At the same time, Iran needs to do its part to dispel the public perception in Pakistan that it is not a party to the sectarian problem of Pakistan and that it is not involved in stalling the development of Gwadar port project. It will be worthwhile for Pakistan to support Iran’s induction into CPEC projects. Pakistan should complete the IP project and not fall in the trap of clubbing it with the revivals of IPI. If India seeks to revive the project, and most probably it would, then IPI should be negotiated fresh and independent of IP project. Pakistan stands to gain if the nuclear deal goes through smooth implementation; and wishes Iran God’s speed in this regard.

About admin

Check Also

People of Kashmir: A tough nut to crack

Month of July has special significance with regard to struggle of Kashmiri people. Two events “Martyrs day” and “Kashmir’s Accession to Pakistan day” are commemorated of 13 and 19 July respectively. Martyrs' Day is observed in Kashmir and the World over in remembrance of 22 Kashmiris killed on 13 July 1931 due to reckless firing by the state forces of Dogra ruler. On that day Kashmiris were peacefully agitating outside the Central Jail Srinagar, where an innocent Muslim Abdul Qadeer was being tried on the charge of terrorism and inciting public against the Maharaja of Kashmir. They were buried in the compound of Kanqah-i-Maula. The place is since known as Mazar-i-Shuhada (Tomb of Martyrs). So, Indian strategy of mixing up terrorism with legitimate struggle of Kashmiri people predates India’s independence from the British Raj. A historic resolution was passed unanimously by the people of the Muslim-dominated state in a meeting of the All Jammu Kashmir Muslim Conference held at the residence of Sardar Muhammad Ibrahim Khan, the founder President of AJK on July 19, 1947 at Aabi Guzer in Srinagar demanding the then Dogra rulers to materialise the accession of the Jammu Kashmir state to Pakistan honouring the decision and the categorical viewpoint of the majority population of the Muslim-majority Jammu & Kashmir state. This day is marked as “Kashmir’s Accession to Pakistan day". Awareness about plight of Kashmiris is picking up momentum. And powerful voices are now worried about HR violations in Kashmir. The latest in joining the ranks of those expressing serious concern over quandary of religious minorities, in India, is the US State Department, which showed its disappointment over refusal of the Indian Government in allowing a delegation of the US Commission on International Freedom to visit the country to have first-hand knowledge of trampling of human and fundamental rights in India. This is for the third time that the delegation has been denied visas and the motives are quite understandable. And only recently, the UN Human Rights Council has documented details of what is happening with Kashmiris, urging the UN General Assembly and Security Council to take up the issue seriously. Though India claims to be the biggest democracy and champion of secularism, its denial of access to the outside world clearly means it has something to hide. National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) of South Africa has confirmed that it will be investigating Indian Prime Minster Narendra Modi for his involvement in war crimes and HR violations in Kashmir. Fast Forward 2018: Kashmir continues to be occupied by India against the will of Kashmiri people. Indian Occupied Kashmir is burning. Hundreds of Kashmiri men, women and children have been killed over the past two months; more than 150 civilians have been blinded by the use of lethal pellet guns; and more than 10,000 men, women and children have been seriously injured because of the indiscriminate firing by occupying Indian forces. While Indian claims that pellet guns are non-lethal, the Doctors Association in Kashmir has clearly said that the embedded pellets in the bodies of the victims were causing fatal lead poisoning and put pregnant women at serious risk. Further, the toxic lead deposits in children’ bodies would stunt their growth. Kashmiris in IoK are under siege in their own land. The use of sexual molestation and rape, as an instrument of state terror, is a norm. Peaceful demonstrations are a crime, political meetings are banned and true representatives of Kashmiri people had been incarcerated. There are prolonged curfews and mobile telephone and internet blackouts in IoK. Indian occupation forces in the occupied territory are hunting down innocent citizens involving draconian black laws. Today, hundreds of thousands of Kashmiris are campaigning against the Indian repression to attain freedom and realization of their right to self-determination. Now two years after the martyrdom of Burhan Wani, his legacy for struggle for self-determination lives on. Martyrdom of Burhan Wani has infused new vigour in the indigenous freedom struggle of innocent Kashmiris who have been fighting for their right of self-determination for almost seven decades. Burhan Wani’s martyrdom has handed down the baton of freedom struggle to the youth of Kashmir, a fact recognized by a recently released report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). In a recent Conference, President Azad Jammu and Kashmir, has appealed to the Canadian lawmakers to develop a bipartisan approach for the promotion and protection of human rights of Kashmiris in IoK. He made this appeal to the Canadian Senate and the House of Commons while addressing a Kashmir Conference at Hamilton, Canada, organized here by the Pakistan Business Association of Hamilton. He especially urged the Human Rights Committees of the Canadian Senate and the House of Commons to take note of the report on the human rights situation in IoK recently released by OHCHR, discuss it and support its recommendations. He highlighted two of the reports’ recommendations, namely, the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry by the Human Rights Council to ascertain facts on the ground and repeal of two draconian laws – Armed Forces Special Powers Act and the Public Safety Act. The Conference was also addressed by Scott Duvall, Member of Canadian Parliament, Ken Stone of the Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War, Mr. Chris Macleod of Cross Border Litigation Group, and Dr. Zafar Bangash, Chairman of the Friends of Kashmir Committee. Scott Duvall, MP, said that he would take back suggestion for focus on Human Rights Council’s Kashmir report in the Human Rights Committee of the House of Commons. Chris Macleod endorsed the idea that more attention must be given to the human right’s situation in IoK and in this regard the Human Rights Committees of the Canadian Senate and the House of Commons should play a role. Ken Stone said that the Kashmir Conference has been convened to hear the cries of the Kashmiris struggling against denial of self-determination in IoK. He said that in early 2017 he had visited Azad Kashmir and had found it to be truly free. In Azad Kashmir, unlike IoK, there was no presence of the Army in cities and towns, no gun-toting soldiers, no barricades and no sign of the people of AJK being repressed. Despite India’s state terrorism and savage oppression, the people of Kashmir and Pakistan believe in peaceful means and would continue to urge India to resort to dialogue and diplomacy. It is the responsibility of the UN and international community to avert a major war over Kashmir, which is a grave and potent risk. India should renounce the path of terrorism and violence and come back to diplomacy to resolve this issue within the political parameters defined by the UN Security Council Resolutions. Back in 1949, Canada’s General AGL McNaughton, in his capacity as President of the Security Council, had played an active role in the resolution of the dispute and on 22 December 1949 had proposed an impartial plebiscite in the territory to determine the future of Jammu and Kashmir and settle the dispute in accordance with the freely expressed will of its inhabitants. Stone said “occupation is a crime from Kashmir to Palestine”. And that solution given by the UN Security Council mandating a plebiscite to allow Kashmiris to determine their political future was the most viable, prudent and practicable dispensation. India is continuing occupation of IoK and brutalization of the Kashmir people in its attempts to illegally integrate the Occupied Kashmir to the Indian State. The Kashmir Conference also passed a resolution which unanimously calls on the UN to assume its responsibility to organize the Kashmir plebiscite under its supervision; and urges the UN to investigate all massacres, gang rapes, fake encounters, forced disappearances and wilful blinding of the Kashmiris. The resolution also called upon India to cease forthwith all human rights violations in IOK; and called on its government to allow UN/ independent investigations into the human rights situation in IoK; and to withdraw all its troops including armed constabulary from Jammu and Kashmir, particularly from cities, towns and villages. The world must break the cycle of appeasement of India. While the world, especially the western countries know fully well that Indian occupation forces are on a murderous rampage in the IoK and are committing crimes against humanity there, even then, the majority of the western nations have chosen to be silent on the issue or look the other way. This encourages and rewards Indian impunity in IoK and is tantamount to complicity in the Indian crimes. Moreover, plebiscite is not a dated instrument; Canada has recently held a plebiscite in Quebec.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *