By K.N. Pandita
New Delhi is doing a delicate but crucial balancing act in the region.
On July 3, National Security Adviser, Mr. M.K. Narayanan visited Teheran, as Prime Minister’s special envoy. Media reported the hurried visit but curiously avoided speculating its purpose. The visit took place at a time, when behind-the-curtain parleys between the ruling Congress and Mulayam Singh’s Samajwadi Party were in progress. On arrival in Teheran, Mr. Narayanan is reported to have told the press that India would be willing to mediate between Iran and the international community. He met with top Iranian leadership.
The launching of “strategic partnership” between the two countries in January 2003 under the rubric of New Delhi Declaration has yielded only limited results. However, under the cover of “civilizational ties”, Iran has made deep inroads into the Shiite segment of Indian Muslim society whereas under the same cover India is trying to project its soft pro-Muslim profile to the Islamic world in which Iran occupies an important place.
The linking of Iran to the Indo-US civil nuclear deal emanates from a clash of regional strategies and the political fallout likely to appear from it. Teheran is eager to add countries to the list of her friends in order to render ineffective Washington’s policy of isolating her in the region.