Iran’s new president


After the Iranian presidential elections, Hassan Rouhani the reformist has been voted into power. He has to make decisions regarding foreign policy, relationships with the Islamic world and internal politics as Iran’s isolation cannot be phased out by having good terms only with a few countries.

Though only time will decide how much power Iran’s new President Hassan Rouhani will be able to maneuver, it is expected that he will have fewer teeth than expected. In the past, former President Muhammad Khatami came into power with lofty slogans of reforms but fell short of his commitments on foreign policy, internal politics and fundamental rights for the Iranian people.

The West locked horns with Iran after the 1979 Revolution. With its unique form of government, led by a sect-based Ulema council, many other Islamic countries have also cultivated feelings of animosity against Iran. Most are now observing both Iran and Saudi Arabia to neutralise their tensions as their thorny relations, due to difference in sects, has thrown Pakistan, another important Islamic country, in a quandary.

The newly-elected president gives great importance to relations with Saudi Arabia. In his book National Security Strategy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, he has discussed Iran-Saudi Arabia relations and security issues. He mentioned his pleasant parleys with Saudi Crown Prince Nayeff Bin AbdulAziz al Saud. Both agreed that Saudi Arab and Iran must ink security accord. They also decided to form four committees. Saudi Arab resented Iran for running a nuclear programme and both planned to talk over this critical issue. But then the Ahmedinejad regime shelved these positive steps. But now the situation has again turned round and there is a chance to make it happen.

The new president considers Iran’s nuclear programme as a basic right of the Iranian people. It will be his responsibility to assure the world that Iran does not harbour any aggressive plans and its nuclear programme is peaceful and for civilian use only. To build consensus, open debate may be held inviting all the stakeholders.

Pakistan, being Iran’s neighbour, is normally influenced by any developments in Iran. Their mutual relations are very important. Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, if completed, can beneficent both countries. Pakistan should also take action against the terrorist organistaion Jandullah. Pakistan should also take up the issue of some sectarian terrorist organisations receiving funds from Iran and Saudi Arabia with both countries. On the mutual trade side, Pakistan can facilitate Iran in meeting its food and medicine requirements while Pakistan can use some help in tackling its energy crisis.

Hassan Rohani must develop consensus among his people and institutions to give freedom to opposition parties in Iran. Shah-e-Iran’s son and family members be allowed for homecoming and if they aspire to join politics, permission be given. Mujaheedin-e-Khalaq and its head Maryam Rajavi who is in exile should also be granted permission to return and join the politics. Whether the new president succeeds in achieving any of these lofty goals remains to be seen but let’s hope he doesn’t turn out to be yet another hardliner.

The writer is a political activist and analyst based in Lahore.


  1. very nice, pertinent and informative column. I read his columns in Urdu newspapers and often in English newspapers. he wrote in The nation few years back i think. he should be a part of English columnists club also. Pakistan today should hire him because you have lack of good columns on international affairs.

  2. I agree with about 70% of this article, I agree that the shah should be allowed to come back to Iran. But Maryam Rajavi ? really? She is hated in Iran. Mujaheedin-e-Khalaq is a terrorist organization responsible for many terrorist acts in Iran since 1960's. as an Iranian citizen I would be very mad if they are allowed into Iran. If western countries want to give these terrorist asylum, I'm happy but not Iran. they are too dangerous for our security.

  3. Good article with full balance thoughts. writer of this article had full command of topic with the good sense.

  4. this article is an eye opener for all muslims. Mr. Muhammad Mehdi pointed out the exact situation of Iran. nice piece of writing.

  5. Dear Majid I disagree with you. I think Mr. Muhammad Mehdi suggested very right and bold things. If Mujahideen-i-khalq is a terrorist organization in the eyes of Irani people. people will reject them in free and fair elections but Mujahideen-i-khalq should have right to come back Iran and participate in the national politics. I think Mr. Mehdi argued very wisely .

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