Another crisis for a neighbour

Iranian President Raisi’s sudden death teaches us lessons

This was a commonality that Pakistan and Iran, which share many commonalities, could have done without. Back in 1988, Pakistan went through the trauma of losing a head of state in an air crash. Almost 36 years on, Iran is going through the same experience. There are large differences. The Pakistani who was killed, Gen Ziaul Haq, was a military ruler, who had the same year dismissed the elected government and taken back power into his own hands. President Ebrahim Raisi was the eighth elected President of Iran, and was merely head of government. He had only been elected once. Apart from the first and second Presidents, seven have served two terms. It is not that Iran has not lost a president before. President Muhammad Ali Rajai was assassinated at a meeting along with the Prime Minister (a position now abolished). President Raisi was accompanied by the Foreign Minister.

A lesson to the world should be how the Iranian state has recovered. The first vice-president, Mohammad Mokhber, has stepped up to the plate and will act as President till the June 28 presidential elections (like Pakistan’s, and unlike the USA’s, there is an election to a full term if there is a midterm vacancy; no one serves out the remainder of the term. Come July, Iran will have a new President in place. This is exactly what happened when President Rajai was assassinated in 1981. At that time, the country was already at war with Iraq, the conflict having started the year before. It is a coincidence that another country at war, Ukraine, also should have had polls, and its President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, actually had his constitutionally prescribed term come to an end, but he will continue in office on the greyhound that there’s a war on.

Iran didn’t think of that excuse back in 1981, nor did the other combatant in the war with Ukraine, which went ahead with presidential elections this March. However, Pakistan delayed its last elections on less solid reasons than a war being on; simply because of delimitations. The excuse that Pakistan is not an old democracy won’t wash either, for nor is Iran, while Ukraine actually started having consecutive elections after Pakistan did. While Pakistan joins Iran in its sorrow, it must also take to heart the example of a system that functions, no matter what happens.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected].


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