NEW DELHI, Nov 19: In a tit-for-tat action, India allowed the United Nations to pass a resolution against Iran, following its spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khomeni equating Kashmir with Afghanistan and Ghaza in Palestine. Taking strong note of the statement, Ministry of External Affairs here on Friday also issued a demarche and summoned Iran’s Charge De Affairs Reza Alaei, telling him that such remarks impinged on the country’s territorial integrity.
India for the first time, abstained late last night from voting on the UN resolution on the human rights violations in Iran. In past, India had always voted against the resolution. Noting that it was a matter of "serious concern", the government sources said Iran’s recent comments have factored India's decision to abstain from voting.
The resolution piloted by Canada was adopted with 88 countries voting in favour and 44 against. India joined 56 countries who abstained from voting. America’s stanch ally in the Gulf, Saudi Arabia also abstained. It had been voting against Iran all the years, signifying a change in its stand.
In an official reaction, Ministry of External Affairs said "our decision on the vote was made after due deliberation." Since July this year, Iran has on three occasions remarked supporting the "struggle" in Kashmir and bracketed the situation in the state with that in Gaza and Afghanistan, sources said. "We have conveyed to the Iranian authorities our deep disappointment and regret that they have chosen to disregard our sensitivities and chosen to question our territorial sovereignty," the government sources said.
In the same breath, they also said New Delhi would not allow current tension to cast shadow on long�term mutual interests and relations. “We have taken serious note of statements emanating from Tehran (on Kashmir). That does not mean, other factors have gone. This decision (abstaining at the UN) is purely the outcome of the statements that have come from Iran affecting out vital interests and integrity,” they said.
India’s relations with Iran have nosedived over the years, since the government began negotiations on the civil nuclear deal with the United States. Tough, government has often denied any linkage between the two, analysts believe the events unfolding on the diplomatic turf with quite recently President Barack Obama seeking Indian’s support against Iran coupled with almost divorcing the tri-nation Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline were major indicators of a chill taking over relations. In 2008, Tehran had protested at India deploying for the first time ever a warship in the Persian Gulf region, which operated in coordination with the Western navies under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in the region.
Earlier on September 18, Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast had slammed the killing of 15 Muslim protesters in Kashmir who were outraged by desecration of the Holy Qur'an in the US. Mehmanparast said that it was perfectly acceptable for Muslims to react to the desecration of the Qur'an and said countering such reactions could be interpreted as supporting acts of sacrilege. These comments also invited a strong diplomatic protest in New Delhi. It not only banned the Iranian channel Press TV that had shown visuals of burning of holy Quran , but also summoned Iranian envoy to lodge protest. India, maintained law and order in Jammu and Kashmir was an internal matter and Iran had no right to interfere or comment on these issues. More so, officials here say, Press TV allegedly showed clips that were “unverified”.
The latest row came after Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khomeni appealed to the Muslim elite worldwide to back the "struggle" in Jammu and Kashmir, equating it with the "nations" of Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. "Today the major duties of the elite of the Islamic Ummah is to provide help to the Palestinian nation and the besieged people of Gaza, to sympathise and provide assistance to the nations of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Kashmir, to engage in struggle and resistance against the aggressions of the United States and the Zionist regime," Khomene said in a message to Haj pilgrims.
A Kashmiri Shia intellectual Ghulam Ali Gulzar says Khomeni’s love for Kashmir was not new. “He loves Kashmir. At every Friday prayer in Tehran University, whenever there is talk about Palestine, Kashmir is also mentioned and prayers offered,” he maintains.
M K Bhadrakumar, a former Indian ambassador with extensive experience in handling India's relations with Iran, however, recalls how Iran had saved India from a virtual disgrace at the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) session in Geneva on April 1994. That was also beginning of Iran’s straining relations with Pakistan that affected its position in Afghanistan as well. Iran had killed the UNHRC resolution condemning India for “grave human rights violations” in Jammu and Kashmir. In a deft move, Prime Minister Narasimha Rao had sent then leader of opposition Atal Bihari Vajpayee as head of delegation to persuade Tehran, besides sending ailing minister Dinesh Singh to meet then Iranian president Hashmi Rafsanjani.