The Iranian


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Sehaty Foreign Exchange


January 30, 2001

The chance to choose

As a late 20 something political scientist and business executive, I would like to clarify some key points made in your article entitled, "Citizen Pahlavi", and address some serious issues for your readers to consider from a more holistic perspective closer to facts than sheer sentiments and personal opinions.

Today, what most onward thinking Iranians such as Reza Pahlavi are advocating is the dire need to push forward the evolutionary process of change that is so badly needs in our country, without the supposition of a desire to turning back the hands of time. In my opinion, any political figure, be it in our country or other, who yearns to relive yesteryears is considered irresponsible and their political aspirations futile.

In parallel, I strongly believe that the people of Iran, like the people of many evolving nations, having experienced an invaluable and much need political lesson no longer aspire to glorify the past, nor do they wish to repeat history by resorting to unnecessary violence and bloodshed as a means of achieving any form of political objective.

Today, what many Iranians, particularly the young, are determined to achieve, and undoubtedly in the near future will achieve, is the opportunity to determine their future.

With a national referendum and mass participation in a truly free election, in the absence of any form of discrimination and persecution, the pillars of the "rule of law" can be well established within a, yet to be determined, form of democratic government. A system that by design can best function and serve the constituents of Iran.

Therefore, to reach and satisfy all factions and groups that exist in a plural society such as Iran, every political option must be heard, reasoned, judged and then decided upon on E-day (election day).

With this objective in mind, what I think Reza Pahalvi is trying to address and bring to the forefront as a viable and realistic route that can best satisfy the common interest of all factions and political groups, and more importantly the people of Iran, is a long term solution rather than a short term remedy.

By introducing a scenario in which ALL Iranians, regardless of their political interests, accept individual responsibility and participate in a referendum that can ultimately bring an outstanding 40-year-old struggle, starting from the days of mosadegh, to a consenting closure. It is true that without the will of the people no political force or social movement for that matter has ever, in any country, been able to achieve its ideals.

But the important message here is that every diverse group in Iran deserves an equal chance of being heard, something that to this date has not happened.

So, in light of the political lesson drawing that can be made, and with the communication technology (radio, fax, satellite and the internet) available to us, we have but one option to pursue liberty in a post cold war era, and that is to lay the foundations of a civil society through a referendum that will overwhelmingly determine the fate of our political future.

The value in this exercise, in the 21st century is two folds, a) It will in effect restore and strengthen public faith in our political institutions, and b) the pact reached as a result of our people's perseverance will have the approved seal of all political groups, thus setting the stage for a new beginning for our country to restore hope of a brighter future.

The objective is therefore not to flip-flop between governmental models, nor is it in our national interest to once again engage in the coercion of one group over another based on any covenant, heritage, and or claim.

From my understanding, Reza Pahlavi has not made any such claims as was suggested in your article, but on the contrary, has abdicated from that position by making it clear that only the people of Iran can reach that final analysis and decision, which he himself will fight for and ultimately participate in the voting process as an eligible citizen when that day arrives. And as he himself has made it clear, as a caring citizen, will respect the outcome of the referendum.

But, the real burden of proof is not on Reza Pahlavi or other political thinkers, the burden is on the People of Iran to acknowledge that they have a decision to make by answering one imperative question, which is, are they happy with the current status quo or are we ready to voice their dissatisfaction and demand a better life. In other words, do we feel a sense of moral obligation and civic responsibility to determine our own fate if we truly believe that we have reached that level of political maturity and are ready to take the future into our own hands.

From my understanding of politics, and knowing Reza Pahlavi for the intellectual that he is, by no means, does he consider himself attached to the peacock throne. Instead, what he is devoted to is the principle that Iranians have an inalienable right to live in freedom and as such in a free society the truth must be spoken and heard.

So, to end this response letter let me state for the record that as an Iranian who shall one day promote and defend the merits of a democratic republic in Iran, I can tell you this much that Reza Pahlavi, in my mind, has always been a true citizen of Iran and will continue to be a committed citizen of our great country.

Shahriar Shahabi


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