The Indian Express


Head Line: Explained: Imran’s Iran outreach— evolution of a relationship, what it means for India

1) Mains Paper II: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.


  • Imran — who was accompanied by ISI chief Gen Asim Munir — spoke a little over two months after 27 personnel of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards were killed in a suicide attack in the Sistan-Baluchistan province along the border with Pakistan.

The background:

  • Imran — who was accompanied by ISI chief Gen Asim Munir — spoke a little over two months after 27 personnel of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards were killed in a suicide attack in the Sistan-Baluchistan province along the border with Pakistan.
  • Iran said the bomber was Pakistani.
  • The attack — which happened the day before the Jaish-e-Mohammad attack on the CRPF bus in Pulwama — was claimed by the Sunni jihadist Jaish al-Adl. Tehran says the Jaish al-Adl operates mostly out of Pakistan and, in March, Rouhani demanded that Pakistan act decisively against anti-Iranian terrorists.
  • On April 18, three days before Imran travelled to Iran, a terrorist attack targeted security forces in Pakistan, which Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi blamed on outfits that had their “training and logistic camps inside Iranian areas bordering Pakistan”.
  • Gunmen stopped a bus on the Makran coastal highway between Karachi and Gwadar, checked passengers’ IDs and took away 10 Pakistani Navy personnel, three from the Air Force, and one from the Coast Guard, and executed them.

 Friends with the Shah:

  • Shia Iran has repeatedly criticised Pakistan’s backing of Sunni terrorist outfits involved in attacks in Iran’s eastern areas, and the killing of Shias inside Pakistan. Pakistan’s proximity to Saudi Arabia — Iran’s great rival in the Middle East — has been a constant irritant in ties between Tehran and Islamabad. But this wasn’t the case always.
  • The Shah of Iran was a Cold War ally of the United States, and during his rule, Iran and Pakistan were important partners.
  • In 1950, the Shah became the first foreign Head of State to visit Pakistan, and at one time even proposed a confederation of the two countries with a single army, and with him as Head of State.
  • Indeed, the Iran-Pakistan axis was so strong that Iran had even threatened to attack India if it did not stop its offensive against Pakistan in the 1971 Bangladesh War.

 Logic in Pakistan-Iran friendship:

  • First, Iran and Pakistan were already members of the budding new organisation CENTO (the Cold War military alliance known as the Central Treaty Organisation).
    • There was already much talk about political, military and economic integration as part of the structures of CENTO.
  • Second, the Shah had not envisioned the idea out of the blue.
    • Right next door in the Arab world, four regional countries were at the time already experimenting with political confederations.
    • In 1958, Egypt and Syria agreed on a union, which became known as the United Arab Republic.

Post-Revolution freeze:

  • Ayatollah Khomeini’s 1979 Islamic Revolution marked a turning point in the Iran-Pakistan relationship.
  • After the Shah’s departure, Pakistan worked closely with the Saudis in the war in Afghanistan.
  • In the 1990s, as rival militias battled to gain control over Afghanistan, Iran backed the Northern Alliance against the Pakistan-backed Taliban.
  • In 1998, after the Taliban captured Mazar-i-Sharif, at least 11 Iranians, mostly diplomats, were killed in the city.
  • In subsequent years, the future of Afghanistan and the Baloch insurgency were the major sticking points in the relationship.
  • The outsize influence of the Saudis in Pakistan’s foreign and security policy, and their investment in Pakistan’s Balochistan province bordering Iran, has added to the suspicion and trust deficit.
  • While Pakistan refused to bend to the pressure from Riyadh to join the war in Yemen against the Iran-backed Shia Houthi rebels, Rawalpindi did clear the appointment of former Pakistan Army Chief General Raheel Sharif to lead the Saudi-backed coalition.

The Indian perspective:

  • For India, Imran’s Iran outreach, at a time when the US has mounted pressure on the international community to shun Tehran, poses several tough questions.
  • The White House last month announced the end of the waiver for India to buy Iranian oil — and Washington has conveyed to New Delhi that as it has stood by India on combating Pakistan-sponsored terrorism after the Pulwama attack, it expects reciprocity on President Donald Trump’s hard line on Iran.
  • The lifting of China’s technical hold on Masood Azhar’s listing, paving the way for international sanctions on the Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist, was the outcome of complex diplomatic give-and-take in which the US played a significant role.
  • For India, this situation presents a dilemma. While the US has assured that the exemption of the development of the Chabahar port project in Iran would continue, given the policy unpredictability of the Trump administration, New Delhi would want to speed up the progress of the port development.
  • Caught between a rock and a hard place, India — which is being lobbied by the US and Iran at the same time — may have to make a tough decision in choosing sides in the coming months, unless it is able to find a creative way to satisfy both Washington and Tehran.


Head Line: Explained: Dissent in the Election Commission – what the rules say

2) Mains Paper II: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.


  • Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa has dissented with the opinion of his colleagues in the Election Commission in five different matters pertaining to alleged violations of the Model Code of Conduct.

Working of ECI:

  • Section 10 (Disposal of business by Election Commission) of The Election Commission (Conditions of Service of Election Commissioners and Transaction of Business) Act, 1991, lays down that “all business of the Election Commission shall, as far as possible, be transacted unanimously”.
  • Dissent is, however, provided for in the Act itself, which says: “If the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and other Election Commissioners (ECs) differ in opinion on any matter, such matter shall be decided according to the opinion of the majority”.

Election Commission of India – Constitutional provisions:

  • The CEC and ECs are appointed by the President to a tenure of six years, or up to the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
  • They enjoy the same status and receive salary and perks as judges of the Supreme Court of India.
  • At present, the Election Commission of India comprises CEC Sunil Arora and ECs Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra.
  • All three Election Commissioners have equal say in the decision making of the Commission.
  • The Election Commission of India draws its authority from the Constitution itself.
  • Under Article 324, the powers of “superintendence, direction and control of elections” is to be vested in an Election Commission.
  • The Constitution does not, however, fix the size of the Election Commission.
  • Article 324(2) says that “the Election Commission shall consist of the Chief Election Commissioner and such number of other Election Commissioners, if any, as the President may from time to time fix”.

The size of the Election Commission:

  • From the beginning, the Election Commission of India consisted of just the Chief Election Commissioner.
  • However, on October 16, 1989, the Congress government of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi appointed two more Election Commissioners, making the Election Commission a multi-member body.
  • The appointments were done just before the commencement of the Ninth General Election, and were criticized as being an attempt to compromise the independence of the Election Commission and of CEC RVS Peri Sastri.
  • On January 2, 1990, the National Front government of Prime Minister VP Singh amended the rules, making the Election Commission a single-member body again.
  • However, on October 1, 1993, the government of Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao promulgated an Ordinance to provide for the appointment of two more Election Commissioners.

The Election Commission has had three members ever since. The Ordinance was subsequently replaced by The Chief Election Commissioner and Other Election Commissioners (Conditions of Service) Amendment Act, 1993, which came into effect on January 4, 1994.

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