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Mudda discusses India’s faltering foreign policy in wake of Malaysia snub on Zakir Naik and Iran oil imports reduction warning

Some remarkable developments in the international arena have indicated India’s dwindling influence among the comity of nations. Iran has threatened to withdraw special concessions to India if it chooses to reduce oil imports under US pressure. The Malaysian government has refused to deport hate preacher Zakir Naik to India and Pakistan has succeeded in getting the UN Human Rights Council’s report about so-called violations in Kashmir.

Iran’s Charge d’ Affairs, Masood Rizvanian, while speaking at an event in New Delhi, said that if India also follows other countries in reducing oil imports from his country, New Delhi will lose the special benefits offered by Tehran. He also criticised India’s handling of Chabahar project by not fulfilling its investment commitments and said that if the port was strategically important for India, it should take necessary steps in this regard.

Moreover, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad has clearly refused to deport hate preacher Zahir Naik for his crimes in India. Zakir Naik, who has been allegedly involved in spreading extremist ideology, is wanted by Indian police.

The UN Human Rights Council’s recent report on Kashmir was another glaring example of India’s diplomatic failure. During the preparation of the report, Zafar Bangash, leader of a Pakistani group, was reportedly in constant touch with Zaid Ra’ad al-Husein, the head of the Council. Bangash is based in Toronto and has served as Imam of a mosque in York region.

The issue of the India’s recent diplomatic failures was discussed during APN’s landmark afternoon show Mudda on Wednesday. The participants of the debate included Sanjay Thakur, spokesperson of BJP, Onkar Nath, spokesperson of Congress party, Sharad Divedi, the defence analyst, Atul Chandra, a senior journalist and Govind Pant Raju, the consulting editor of APN. Anant Tyagi anchored the show.

Onkar Nath, spokesperson of Congress party said that the present government has been damaging the country’s prestige when Iran is threatening to stop special benefits on oil trade and a small country like Malaysia is not deporting Zair Naik. He said that present government should adopt the policies of former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

He said that India has all along been saying that no country can dictate terms to other countries. Each country should formulate and follow its own policy.  He criticised US for forcing the countries of the world to reduce Iranian oil import to zero by November.

Sharad Trivedi, the defence expert, said the foreign policy of the country cannot and should not depend on one country. Each country is free to develop and maintain its ties with all countries individually without any third country’s pressure.

Atul Chandra said that it was unfortunate that a country has been pressuring us not to buy Iranian oil. He said that taking a call on the situation under US pressure has developed into a complex issue.

He further said that India is facing a difficult situation as to how to maintain relations with Iran. However, the officials concerned were the ones responsible for non-compliance on Chabahar port commitments. He said that we have to realise that there have been some weaknesses in our foreign policy.

AK Nag, India’s former diplomat at the United Nations, said that there have been ups and downs in the foreign policy. However, the US has been posing a challenge for world diplomacy, he said.

—Compiled by MA Kazmi

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