IRAN ELECTION Hassan Rohani: expectations and Qualms

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By: Muhammad Mehdi
It was the blackest day in the history of Arab and Islam. The day was marked as ominous as that day Islamic hardliners, worst hostile to then Saudi government, illegally occupied Masjid-ul-Haram. Renowned US journalistYaroslav Trofimov   narrated in his book “The Siege of Macca” Saudi Government disconnected all sort of communication links  to keep the world in oblivion about the gruesome incident. Hence, neither Saudi Radio nor Television could broadcast and air any news to inform all and Sundry even the International community. However, US covert communication systems at US consulate broke the news to Washington and American spokesman made the world abreast of the turbulence in Holy city of Mecca.. It was the time when Iran King (Shah-e-Iran) shed his power and issue of US Consulate had flared up. So in this perspective, Western media splashed the news that Khamenei’s supporters occupied Masjid-ul- Haram. On the other hand, impression brewed up in the Islamic World that US orchestrated the game plan and in a retaliatory move, US Embassy in Pakistan was torched. As a matter fact, neither Khamenei’s followers nor the US had a hand in the conspiracy. Instead it was the result of coordination deficit among Muslim countries, embargo on means of communications and Saudi-Iran tension soon after Shah-e-Iran debacle that electrified rumour factories to churn out packs of disinformation at full throttle.

The reason for nostalgia at this juncture is to articulate that many decades wore on, numerous changes hit the world but Saudi-Iran fried terms stand unchanged and both countries are still nurturing misgivings.

After Presidential election in Iran, Hassan Rohani, reckoned as close friend of Khamenei and known for his portfolio as reformist is going to rule the roost. He has to make far-reaching decisions to wisely deal with foreign policy, relationships with Islamic world and internal politics as Iran isolation cannot be phased out having good terms solely with some countries.

Though impending time will decide how much Iran new President Hassan Rohani will be powerful, but state big shots believe that he will have few teeth than expected. In Past former President Muhammad Khatami came into power with lofty slogans of reforms but he fell short of his commitments on foreign policy, internal politics and fundamental rights for the people. In this backdrop, when perception deepens that newly-elected President and Parliament will be spineless, democracy sounds unserviceable not only in the country but also on International horizon. The real challenge for Hassan Rohani is to get him recognized as powerful figure and no doubt it might be materialized if he plays vital role in Iran policies and abolish undemocratic provisions in Irani constitution.

With Shah-e-Iran downfall, West as well as America locked horns with Iran. Meanwhile, Arab countries also fostered reservations against it. Owing to establishment of a sect-based Muslim Ulema government in Iran, other Islamic countries dominated by other sect cultivated feelings of animosity against Iran. Eventually after emergence of Iran President Rohani, all eyes are now on Iran and Saudi Arab to neutralize their tension as their thorny relations has thrown Pakistan into live-wire trouble. Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arab share embedded social, religious, political and other dynamics. Their policies and fallouts affect one another. Thus, Iran-Saudi row always brings worst tide of violence in Pakistan.

 It seems breath of fresh air that newly-elected Irani President Hassan Rohani gives great prominence to deep relations with Saudi Arab. In his book “National Security Strategy of the Islamic Republic of Iran”, he has discussed Iran-Saudi Arab relations and security issues. He narrated “I went to Saudi Arab in the capacity of secretary of National Security Council after Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arab as its official suspected Iran involvement in it and it was needful to dust off such skepticism. In his books, he mentioned his pleasant parleys with Saudi crown Prince Nayeff Bin AbdulAziz Alsaud. Both had agreed in era of ex-President Khatami that Saudi Arab and Iran must have inked security accord. They also decided to form four committees. Saudi Arab resented over Iran for running atomic programme and both planed to talk over this critical issue. Iran President Hassan Rohani said that after Ahmedi nejad became Iran President in Past, all such positive steps had to be shelved. Now situation has again turned round and it is great responsibility of newly-elected President to plug up the gap between both countries so that Iran could improve its position in Gulf.

Hassan Rohani has regarded Iran atomic programme as basic right of Irani people and logically it is correct that fruits of atomic technology should not be limited to the West and the US. Particularly, having witnessed torment of Afghanistan and Iraq, it is impossible to convince any country to quit atomic programme. It will be onus on Iran President to realize the world that Iran does not harbor any aggressive plan and its atomic programme is peaceful and designed for the welfare of people. To build consensus, open debate be held inviting the West, America and even its own people. Meanwhile, situation demands that conducive atmosphere of harmony be induced by not indulging in frivolous talks like state-sponsored conference on Hollow cast that held in past.

Pakistan is always influenced by developments in Iran. Change of government in Iran comes at a time, Pakistan sees rise of new democratic government. Pak-Iran Gas pipeline project is beneficent to both the countries. It must be completed come what may. Other than this, Iran has some complaints with Pakistan about Jind-ullah organization and outlawed outfits. Pakistan newly-elected government is expected to soothe Iran on such matter and it is high time that such issue be tabled between both Iran and Pakistan . It is thought that some Sectarian organizations are receiving funds from Iran and Saudi Arabia. It is right time to talk clearly with both countries about the stop of this matter. Otherwise Pakistan will face more worst situation in the from of public order situation and sectarian violence.

Moreover, Pakistan may facilitate Iran in meeting its food demands and medicine requirements. Owing to drugs dearth, child fatality rate has spiked in Iran. Pakistan has hit hard by energy crisis and Iran could help it out. Both countries need to help each other in their woes. In my initial musing, I referred Iran’s internal politics. Hassan Rohani must develop consensus among people, influential and institutions to render complete freedom to opposition parties in Iran. Shah-e-Iran son and family members be allowed for homecoming and if they aspire to join politics, permission be given. So much so Mujaheedin-e-Khalaq and its head Maryam Rajavi who is leading exile life be granted permission to return and join the politics.  Marryam Rajavi is remembered for daunting struggle against Shah-e-Iran. Her sister assassination by accomplices of Shah-e-Iran is known to everyone. With the same spirit, Iran President must also play his significant role to oblige freedom to National Council of Resistance of Iran.

I fear that if opposition parties remain suppressed and are not accommodated in mainstream politics, entire system may be packed up. Time will tell whether Hassan Rohani will get his name written with golden words in the history negotiating all conflicting issues or be part of routine.  

The writer is a Political activist and analyst based in Lahore. Email: lhrpakistan@yahoo.co.uk