Indo-Iran ties

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to India and the joint statement issued by the two sides are of great diplomatic significance. India had stood by Iran when the US had imposed sanctions on her because of her independent nuclear policy. Despite pressures, India did not stop importing oil from Iran during those days, though the quantity of import had to be reduced.  Then came another important development: the decision to develop the Chabahar port jointly by Iran and India. This neutralized to a great extent the advantage that China sought to derive by taking over the Gwadar port from Pakistan in the Arabian Sea. Rouhani himself referred to the Chabahar project in his speech and underlined its importance in opening up an alternative route for India to Afghanistan and the countries in Central Asia to which Afghanistan is the gateway.
Indeed, the strategic significance of the joint development of the Chabahar port is so much that an unnerved China lost no time in setting up a naval base in Djibouti to offset partly the advantage India derives from the development of the Chabahar port. Iran’s willingness to share its vast oil and natural gas reserves with India is an important step for further cementing the relationship between the two countries. President Rouhani’s observation that the current century belongs to Asia where New Delhi and Tehran have a very important role to play has to be seen in the context of US-Iran and Sino-Indian relations.
It is in India’s interest to forge closer ties with all her Asian neighbours when an assertive China is trying to weaken India militarily and economically and Pakistan is coming out of the sphere of influence of the US and forming an anti-India axis with China. India has to ensure that it is not seen as giving up its independent foreign policy and making it subservient to any other country. India cannot alienate the Arab world in its war against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. Thousands of Indians work in the Arab countries earning valuable foreign exchange for India. At a time when Chinese influence is growing in our neighbourhood (the recent developments in the Maldives are an instance), India has to cultivate and deepen its economic, strategic and cultural relations with all the nations of Asia. To fight the Pakistan-sponsored terrorism also, cooperation of the Arab world is a must. India-Iran ties will be an important element in the coming days for stabilizing peace in Asia.

Monday, 26 February, 2018