February 25, 2003


Iran Signs Defence Pact with India against Pakistan: Deafening Silence in Islamabad over Biggest Foreign Policy Setback (Shaheen Sehbai, 2/24/03, South Asia Tribune)
Pakistan is stunned. The intense shrill of silence is deafening. Not even the free media is talking about the issue which is by far the most staggering failure of not only General Pervez Musharraf but the entire military establishment. Apparently the elected political leadership has also been told not to touch the issue, not to raise national security concerns.

No official spokesman, from General Musharraf to PM Jamali to Information Minister Sheikh Rashid to Major General Rashid Qureshi to Foreign Office's Aziz Khan, have yet provided the nation any explanation of how and why the brotherly, Islamic nation and a trusted friend and ally of Pakistan, Iran, has turned into a strategic partner and military ally of India, and shockingly and publicly so, against Pakistan.

The latest word on this sensitive subject has come from world renowned Jane's Defence Weekly, the authentic voice on strategic and defence matters. And all JDW could say in its latest issue was that Pakistan "was expected to respond to the signing of India's recent accord with Iran, which would allow India the use of Iranian military bases in the event of any outbreak of tensions with Pakistan." Can any one believe that this agreement was signed more than one month ago and no one has yet been able to respond in Islamabad.

What has gone wrong with Pak-Iran relations? Iranian President just recently visited Pakistan but while he was in Islamabad, Indian and Iranian officials were finalizing the text of the defence pact under which India can now use Iranian land and air space and military bases against Pakistan. So what was General Musharraf talking about with the Iranian President? Did he indicate that his country was ready to sign a military pact against Pakistan? What did General Musharraf say to him? What has annoyed Teheran so much that the country which once allowed Pakistan to park most of its air force and PIA aircraft during a war with India, is now ready to provide the same facility to Pakistan's enemies?

According to the Jane's Defence Weekly the Indo-Iran "pact had shifted the strategic balance in South Asia and looked very much like an encirclement of Pakistan by India." Following the pact "pressure on Pakistan's defences would be almost overwhelming," the magazine said.

It's hard to believe that Pakistan--with its al Qaeda remnants, rising Islamicism, and inherent instability--won't have to be dealt with at some point. The network of alliances between Israel, Turkey, India, Iran, Russia, and America leaves Pakistan completely surrounded if that reckoning does come. Posted by Orrin Judd at February 25, 2003 9:14 PM

I've been pleasantly surprised that the country didn't disintegrate years ago.

Pakistan is tougher than old boots.

Anyway Iran probably signed because they've become annoyed at the all-too-frequent murders of Shia Muslims.

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at February 26, 2003 4:29 AM

Another possibility is that Iran is trying to get off the axis of evil, and the U.S., tired of Pakistani terrorists attacking US troops in Afghanistan and Indians, is trying to pressure Pakistan to start policing terrorism.

Posted by: pj at February 26, 2003 7:38 AM

As Persians they have contempt for Arabs, as Shia they hate the Sunni. They are natural allies in the war.

Posted by: oj at February 26, 2003 8:06 AM

Well reading the article in full, it appears a major reason was Pakistan's dilly-dallying over a pipeline connecting India and Iran.

Capitalism conquers all.

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at February 26, 2003 9:38 AM

Wow! It will take some time to really understand this one. I think I like it except for the probability it will undermine Musharraf at a time when we continue to need his cooperation.

No wonder he's still working on a response.

Posted by: genecis at February 26, 2003 9:43 AM


Reading the article helped. Kashmir may come into play and that would be positive. Still, this will be interesting as it plays out, to say the least. Musharraf needs us more than ever now and this could help us in the tribal border lands, assuming he survives.

Posted by: genecis at February 26, 2003 9:58 AM

If anyone thinks that Iran will still have the government that signed this pact 2 years from now is dreaming. This makes about as much sense as Russia signing the oil deal with Saddam. Both will be just pieces of paper you see in history books.

Posted by: BJW at February 26, 2003 11:44 AM
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