The Supreme leader of Islamic Revolution and Iran, Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, who is the highest ranked political and religious head in Islamic Republic of Iran, on 26 June, on the occasion of EID-UL-FITR and after some days in a meeting with Head of Justice of Iran publically urged the Muslim World to openly support the people of Bahrain, Palestine, Yemen, Myanmar, Kashmir, etc. and to repudiate oppressors and tyrants who attacked the people during Ramadan. This is not the first time that he has raised the Kashmir issue. In 2010, on the occasion of EID-UL-ZUHA, he had put it in the same line as Gaza and Afghanistan. Iran once went on to declare Kashmir a Nation and India a Zionist Regime, even though India is being friendly to Iran and abstained from voting against the later in the United Nations Security Council Resolution on Human Rights.
Iran plays a strategically significant role for the approximately 13 percent Shias in Kashmir. Shia community show their allegiance to Iran’s clerical setup known as Islamic Jurisprudence (Willayat-e-Faqih). Ayatollah Khamenei of Iran and Ayatollah Sistani In Iraq are being acknowledged by majority of the Shia community as their jurisprudent. India is neglecting the importance of Ayatollah Khamenei and in 1980 when the leader paid his visit to Kashmir, he joined Sunni Friday prayers and prayed while standing before Mirwaiz Maulvi Farooq and delivered a 15-minnute speech in Historical Jamia Masjid. It accomplished the brotherhood and subsequent mutual understanding.
It’s true that the Kashmiri Shias do not want “Kashmir Banega Pakistan” because of fear of persecution of Shias in Pakistan, but it would be wrong to say that they do not want ‘Azadi’. There are three self-determinant groups in Kashmir- one, “Kashmir Banega Pakistan”; two, “Independent Kashmir”; and three stay with the “Existing nation”. Indeed, Shias want “Independent Kashmir” where ”Kashmiriyat” will evolve. Kashmiri Shias have been passive in the movement and therefore, preferred to be with India. But Iran’s will and intervention have changed the people’s mindset that now, like their other Muslim brothers tend to be the equal parts of the resistance Movement. As Iran observes, the restrictions are never-ending in Kashmir. For example, The Grand Ashura Procession in Kashmir has been banned by the state government since a long time by imposing illogical restrictions over it. It has provoked a particular community which finds no way but to participate in the freedom movement. For example, Budgam, a Shia Majority district has become active this year like never before. Also, Youm-e-Quds, celebrated in the last week of Ramadan was designed by Imam Rohullah Khomeini of Iran in the favor of Palestine and other oppressed nations. But gradually, Kashmir is also being raised with enthusiasm. Shias have also got representation in Hurriyat. Moreover, there is Imam Khomeini Memorial Trust (IKMT) at Kargil in Jammu and Kashmir which was inspired by the Iranian Revolution and is run by the young clerics trained in Iran.
In history first Indian Prime Minister’s recent visit to Israel ( to Iran, the creation of Israel as a Zionist state is the worst event of the 20th century) has de-hyphenated Palestinian ties with Israel unlike previous Indian visits. By doing this, India has compromised on its unique history, which it has been proud of. New Delhi’s dependence on the west may create more rivalry against its neighbors. It has been noticed that the adjoining boundaries of India remain vulnerable and can undoubtedly cause threat to its National Security as well as integrity. We should remember that the faster India hankers after the America, the more foes we make. The irony is these futuristic “foes” are our immediate neighbors. The most important thing is that the US is being ignored and isolated by the world as it quits The Paris Climate Change- G20 meeting held in Hamburg on 8th July. Resultantly, China got opportunity to establish its supremacy.
This is not once but twice within a week that he rakes up Kashmir’s concern, which gradually gets a way in Iran’s Foreign Policy. It is certainly not good for New-Delhi. Indeed, it affects Iran-India Relationship, which has been seen as productive throughout history. Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid high profile visit to Tehran last year, where India agreed to invest $500 million. It resulted in the establishment of Chabbhar Port which is the most important step to sideline the Pakistan and also for the development of regional road and rail connectivity with Afghanistan and Central Asia from where India imports Oil etc. An additional $16 billion free trade zone was also signed. The bilateral trade is around 14 billion USD in which India imports around $12 billion worth of oil from Iran.
Pakistan’s relationship with Iran have been strained at times due to sectarian tensions, as Pakistani Shias claimed that they were being discriminated under the Pakistani government’s Islamisation programme. But Iran always makes effort to cooperate with Pakistan. At present, both countries are cooperating and forming alliances on several of areas of mutual interest such as fighting the drug trade and combating the Balochistan insurgency along their border. Iran has expressed an interest in joining the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Saudi Arabian Use of Wahhabism, the policy of Intoleration and most importantly, the dependence of Pakistan and anti-Iran hatred are the causes of downs in relationship with Iran, but Pakistan becomes strategically neutral to both the Middle East regional emerging powers.
Iran has continuously spoken for Kashmir and this has shook the entire India by storm, after Modi’s visit to Donald Trump. Iran has taken a firm stand against Indian Oppression in Kashmir. Iran has historically been a supporter in this matter but Indian diplomacy has silenced the pro-Kashmir voice in past 7 years. The recent Iranian move suggests that Iran has realized that Indian game in the region is to weaken Pakistan at every cost. Iran has historically fought alongside Pakistan during 1965 and1971 wars. While India has lost an ally, Pakistan gains another strong voice in the favor of Kashmir referendum. If Pakistan, China and Iran and now Russia make a formidable regional Alliance while both India and United States lose their influence in South Asia. The people of Kashmir and Pakistan are rejoicing over the Iranian statement. They expect that Iran plays a diplomatically strong role for Kashmir’s freedom. It has become advantageous for the resistance camp. This is the crucial time for New Delhi to bounce back and revive the survivable conditions in the valley. Ignoring Iran is not a solution. New Delhi must focus on bilateral relationship with Tehran. New Delhi should take Kashmir as a part of negotiation to resolve the Kashmir dispute politically through peaceful means.
Author hails from Budgam Kashmir and Pursuing Masters in Sociology at Jamia Milli Islamia Delhi and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org