Rouhani’s win

Published: June 17, 2013
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The West must note the message given by the Iranian population. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

The West must note the message given by the Iranian population. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

The victory of Iran’s moderate cleric Hassan Rouhani in the presidential election is good news on many counts. He was able to secure the support of the opposition as well as the reform groups within Iran. Hopefully, a departure will be made from the hard-line worldview of his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who had taken the country towards international isolation. A remarkable feature of the Iranian elections was the high voter participation of 72 per cent. Compared with the 55 per cent in the recent Pakistani elections, this surely sets a benchmark for the region. Rouhani’s election campaign highlighted, not unlike Nawaz Sharif, the economic woes of Iran and on working out a more conciliatory approach towards the West. Iran badly needs relief from the sanctions imposed by the West, especially the United States, for its economy to pick up.

The fundamentals of Iranian polity remain unchanged. The all-powerful “Supreme Leader” and the council of clerics firmly control policy in the country. But this minor shift will work in Iran’s favour as president-elect Rouhani was the lead nuclear negotiator under the reign of Mohammad Khatami and is, therefore, well endowed with diplomatic experience. Iran’s growing young population and the quest of its populace to integrate with the world should be better served with this win.

The real question is whether the new president would be given some space by the powerful Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and endow him with the authority to improve relations with the West. The West must note the message given by the Iranian population. A majority of the country’s population has backed the pragmatic line that Rouhani takes. Thus, it is time for effective engagement with Tehran and giving up on paranoia over Iran’s nuclear programme. Pressured by the pro-Israel groups in the US, the Obama Administration had adopted a coercive approach. Given Iran’s proximity to Pakistan and Afghanistan and the 2014 Nato pullout, it is essential that the US support regional cooperation efforts.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 18th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (6)

  • unbelievable
    Jun 18, 2013 - 12:02AM

    If nothing else his election might send a message to the hard line clerics – the people place a higher priority on jobs/economy rather than centrifuges, Hezbollah and Assad. Iranian’s don’t want to be isolated like N Korea.

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  • Sonya
    Jun 18, 2013 - 12:22AM

    There are many lessons in Iran’s election that Pakistan can learn, first and foremost of them is to scrutinize who is eligible to contest and secondly holding elections that their nation can trust internally before getting foreign certificates. Iran’s system provide much powers to the President otherwise the nation would not flock in millions to vote for their candidates.

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  • Toticalling
    Jun 18, 2013 - 12:26AM

    A newspaper said so well: The victory of Hassan Rouhani has stunned pundits, and it seems even Iranians can’t quite believe it. He is a moderate (if not, quite, a reformer) who defeated five conservatives. His victory was massive – 51 per cent.
    But this bit about liberal and moderate Mullah does not mean much. The real leader is the Ayatollah who makes decisions and the President has limited powers. The most important issues are nuclear armaments and if he can come to some agreement with USA, it will help Iran. Unlike Pakistan, Iran has no enemies. So the 1st priority should be to reduce poverty and create more jobs. With Oil money, Iran should not have poverty levels that we have seen in the last decade.

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  • Sonya
    Jun 18, 2013 - 8:43AM

    @Toticalling: “Unlike Pakistan, Iran has no enemies” – tells us how much do you know about Iran and its long list of enemies.

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  • Communist
    Jun 18, 2013 - 1:44PM

    @toticalling: Exactly! tell us what do you know about IRAN? I’ve been to Iran and I don’t know what you are talking about.. Despite of sanctions Iran is doing much better, talk about international Isolation.. Iran have established good/friendly relations with Latin America and Middle east countries.. Their firm stand against West isolated them, Their anti-Israel policy- much justified- and unyielding determination to become a nuclear power.. Irony is that the US is the only country which employed nuclear arsenals in WWII yet they put sanctions and deem it a “threat to world peace” wow!

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  • Toticalling
    Jun 18, 2013 - 6:28PM

    I have my reasons and arguments to substantiate my post The world has moved on since the world was divided on religious lines. Iran is a theocratical nation. It is ruled by Mullahs whose job it is to follow Islamic teachings. Many in the west believe that if there is a conflict between reason, self interest or religious teachings Mullahs, will follow what the book tells them. Most of the non Muslim countries are of the opinion that this can lead to acts which do not fit in the 21st century. The idea of JIhad may be important to many conservative Muslims, but can lead to the destruction of unnecessary life.
    Iran has no enemies. It wants Israel to drown in the red sea. That is a threat that Israel and many others do not take it lightly. They think Iran will use the bomb to through all Jews in the sea, as its leaders have been saying. Iran has good relations with Pakistan, Turkey and Afghanistan. Where are its enemies? Its leadership should try to get rid of poverty and corruption instead of threatening to destroy any country. I agree that the idea of jews gathering in Israel was not right. But those living there are born there and have a right to carry on living there. Imagine if India threw all the Muslims because they originally came from elsewhere. In the large interest one has to be above religion and treat all human beings fairly.

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