The Indian government provides lame justifications for supporting Iran
The Indian foreign minister made a very poor case in trying to justify India’s potential vote against referring Iran’s dubious ‘civilian’ nuclear programme to the UN Security Council. This is what he said:
“Everybody would like to avoid a contentious debate in the Security Council,” (Foreign Minister Natwar) Singh, who visited Iran earlier this month, said in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting.
“Look here, India’s foreign policy is decided in New Delhi,” he said on NDTV television. “We have good relations with Iran. We have our energy requirements with Iran … there are 150 million Muslims in India, of which a large number are Shias.”[Reuters]
And here’s why he is wrong:
- It is unfathomable why India should want the UN Security Council to avoid a contentious debate when at least two of its members do. India is not even a member there (which is the whole point why it is an excellent idea to refer the matter to the Security Council).
- We have good relations with the United States too. As we have with Britain, France and Germany. Merely having good relations with a country is not good enough a reason to blindly support that country.
- We have energy requirements. Period. Iran is just one country that can supply fuel to India. That only Iran can satisfy India’s energy requirements is a fallacious argument that is nothing more than a dogmatic assertion. Securing gas from Iran, via a pipeline that runs through Pakistan is not at all an end-all for India’s energy security.
- There is absolutely no reason to believethat those 150 million Indian Muslims will complain if the rationale behind India’s decision is properly explained to them. Moreover, the foreign minister insults India’s Shia Muslims by suggesting that they would somehow be automatically more aligned to Iranian interests rather than their own.
The Congress-led government is about to make one of the biggest mistakes of contemporary foreign policy. Whether or not India will make this mistake will certainly be decided in New Delhi. There is no doubt about that at all.
Tailpiece: If Nutwar Singh deems it necessary to remind everyone that India’s foreign policy is made in New Delhi, then pray why did Dr Manmohan Singh have to cite Vajpayee’s criticism to President Bush, he who is based in Washington D.C.?