Reliable newspaper reports from Israel are suggesting that Indian police authorities have unearthed evidence that would link Iran with the recent bombing of an Israeli diplomat’s car in New Delhi. Some have speculated that Indian authorities have been loath to make the evidence of Iranian involvement public for fear of damaging the diplomatic relationship with Iran.
India has a complicated geo-strategic relationship with all sides in the current Iran crisis – India has a robust diplomatic and military relationship with Israel, while the Indo-U.S. relationship, despite some occasional ebb and flow, is now on a mostly even keel.
Relations with Iran are even more complex, and India can’t afford an abrupt rupture in its relations with Tehran. The two countries share common concerns about the return of the Taliban to Afghanistan in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal in 2014 or sooner. Additionally, India remains dependent on Iranian oil supplies, and Indian firms also help refine Iranian crude. Finally, whether accurate or not, many in India’s political establishment, and especially within the Congress Party, fear that an open break in Indo-Iranian relations could entail political costs in Shia constituencies in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
It’s clear that India faces a conundrum. However, if incontrovertible evidence of Iranian complicity in the bombing has indeed come to light, Indian authorities cannot and should not seek to sweep it under the rug.
India, which has long been the victim of both domestic as well as transnational terror, needs to forthrightly address a blatant and egregious act of terror that not merely took place on its own soil, but in what is perhaps the most fortified area within its national capital. It needs to do so for a number of compelling reasons.
On one level, India’s political leadership has long argued that acts of terror are seamless. Just because India has a working relationship with Iran doesn’t mean it can condone any possible state involvement in aiding and abetting terror. Otherwise, India’s leadership can justifiably be accused of indulging in a double standard. Also, for purely instrumental reasons, India should also adopt an unyielding position. Can India really overlook any potential links that a country might have to a barefaced act of terror on a foreign diplomat and at least two Indian citizens? Does it not have an abiding interest in ensuring that any act of terror, regardless of origin, is simply intolerable?
Adopting a firm public position on the subject may well entail some political and even economic costs. Overlooking and denying any sign that a foreign power was involved would prove disastrous for the future.