India ticks off Iran over Kashmir remarks

India ticks off Iran over Kashmir remarks

India had earlier voted against similar UN resolutions condemning human rights violations in Iran.

Iran’s envoy to India was summoned to the Ministry of External Affairs in South Block on Friday and was issued a strong demarche expressing ‘deep disappointment’ of New Delhi.

Latest irritant

Khamenei’s remark on Kashmir popped up as the latest irritant in India-Iran relations, just one-and-a-half week after US President Barack Obama had nudged New Delhi to take a tougher position on the controversial nuclear programme of Tehran.

“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,” Khamenei said in a recent message to Haj pilgrims.

In a tit-for-tat reaction to Khamenei’s remark on Kashmir, India on Thursday abstained from voting on a noting on the human rights violations in Iran at the United Nations General Assembly Third Committee.

Sources in New Delhi said that Khamenei’s remark on Kashmir had been “factored in” while deciding to abstain from voting on the resolution.

The Charge De Affairs of Iranian Embassy in New Delhi, Reza Alaei, was called in at the Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran division of the MEA and was given the demarche.

Though India voted thrice against Iran in the International Atomic Energy Agency on the issue of the nuclear programme of the South-West Asian country, New Delhi has over the past few months been reviving its old ties with Tehran after being sidelined in Washington’s new Af-Pak policy.

The United Nations Security Council on June 9 last imposed additional sanctions on Iran. The US too imposed new unilateral sanctions on the South Western Asian country on July 1 last. India maintains that sanctions are unlikely to resolve the dispute over the nuclear ambitions of Iran. It also slammed the US sanctions on Iran and termed it extra-territorial.

New Delhi has been concerned over the impact of US sanctions on its energy ties with Tehran. India is the third largest market of crude oil from Iran.

Significantly, India voted against a similar UN resolution on human rights violations in Myanmar, at a time when the recent release of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi from house-arrest brought the Burmese people’s struggle under international focus.

During his visit to India, Obama had subtly criticised New Delhi’s reluctance to openly support the movement for restoration of democracy in Myanmar and prodded it to review its policy of engaging the ruling junta in that country.

Despite Obama’s push to toe the US line on Iran and Myanmar, New Delhi had ruled out possibility of any immediate review in its policies towards Tehran and Naypyidaw, with highly-placed officials saying India’s approach on Iran and Myanmar would be guided by its own “national interests”.

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