“Gozaresh” [Report], a monthly magazine, carried an opinion piece by Abolghasem Golbaf on August 13, 2014 in which he reminded readers, among other things, of the pledges Rouhani made as a candidate on the campaign trail and then as president in his first year in office. What comes below is the translation of his column:
Dr. Hassan Rouhani was a long-serving member of the Center for Strategic Research. He was never driven in a bullet-proof car to the offices of the Expediency Council where fellow councilors would get together, sip tea, call their wives to know how their children were doing, read the papers, chat and lunch, and hold meetings. They would finally head home after taking care of their daily business.
Instead, he’d go to the Expediency Council offices and spend a lot of time reading history books. His good command of English, thanks to the years he spent living and studying in Britain, helped him delve into the realm of politics without having to turn to translators.
Back then, he issued very few critiques, comments or opinion pieces about the daily affairs of the country. Perhaps, he never thought that one day fortune would smile upon him. He was a clergyman in a clerical robe and was not against worldly affairs. He recognized civic rights, human rights, the rights of journalists and women, international rights, and so on.
The man of peace and thought has now been away from his desk and office at the Expediency Council and the Center for Strategic Research for more than a year; he no longer reviews his notes of those years. Not only did he talk with US President Barack Obama over the phone, but his men openly shake hands with American officials and hold talks with them; perhaps they even have meals and coffee together and exchange pleasantries.
The Stars and Stripes is no longer set on fire in Iran. Even the Kayhan seems to have mellowed or tired out. If nothing else, Rouhani has shattered a lot of verbal taboos. Even if his vows never see the light of day, they raise awareness about public rights and entitlements.
Although a majority of his pledges seem unlikely to be delivered even if he remained in office for seven more years, some of his promises are so sweet that even thinking about them can be pleasant.
In this note, I have tried to present a series of Mr. Rouhani’s critiques and campaign vows as well as his comments in his first year in office. Go through them and see whether they will strike you as appealing:
If we are under the wrong impression that arrival of tourists in our country might poison the atmosphere of society, we are doubtful of ourselves.
If the stage is set for the tourism industry to grow, 10 million tourists a year will add 4 million jobs, whereas we have only 3.5 million people out of work.
People cannot be forced into heaven by flogging. [A comment which came in reaction to those who favored the use of force to promote virtue.]
The government of Prudence and Hope won’t let those young people who are unemployed feel embarrassed before their families.
Let’s give cinematic institutions freedom and delegate supervision to themselves.
The present Internet bandwidth is not proper for the Iranians. Today’s world is the world of communication, but unfortunately, there are some in the country who still live in the 19th century.
I wish there were justice at IRIB [state broadcaster].
It is impossible to slam the door shut on foreign radio and TV programs. The only way to blunt the impact of foreign media is to render them more active and stronger.
Today, our university students and researchers want to use the Internet. We should not allow hours of their time to be squandered. Such conditions are below the dignity of our nation.
We wrongly thought that if satellite dishes were seized, the problem associated with satellite channels would be addressed. We should keep up with what is going on in the world and adopt the right plans in this regard.
In my government “Freedom” will exist in the true sense of the word.
People should know what has happened to them over the years.
Rent-seeking, corruption, and preferential treatment of one party or an ethnic group cannot help the country move forward.
With outdated technology, one cannot compete with the rest of the world.
For the government of Prudence and Hope, there is no difference between ethnic groups, religions or genders. Whoever is more qualified will get the job.
Between 2005 and 2013, job creation stood at zero.
National production is lying dormant.
We must change the present direction of the country which is full of suffering and pain for many. That is quite possible.
We should give some latitude to media. Have a look at what our media are like today. We need to promote ethical values; Special Forces cannot deliver it, though. We should raise the awareness of our younger generation. We should not pry into people’s lives.
I promise to bring back prestige and respect to the Iranian passport.
If I’m elected, I will create a free and safe atmosphere and put an end to political bickering and impatience.
I do not approve of Tehran’s present foreign policy which is beneath the dignity of our country and nation. I am of the conviction that we should communicate with the world politely.
We should not direct the country in the way that leads to war.
As for publication of books, oversight bodies should not be too harsh. Supervision can be done even after the books are published.
Undoubtedly, freedom of thought and expression is an inalienable right of all of us. I will follow in the footsteps of Hashemi and Khatami.
I will restore the country’s national power with the help of the youth. I will draw the curtain down on extremism and rogue behavior. We want the implementation of the law.
Leading a happy life and being joyful are the rights of the Iranian nation.
People should feel completely free to express their ideas and cast ballots in free elections.
Some in authority use media to slander people when no verdict has been handed down.
An open atmosphere won’t harm anyone. We should not inject a sense of security into the atmosphere of universities, cities, the country, virtual media and the Internet.
Over the last few years, many university professors have been isolated just because they have voted for a certain candidate.
Our media’s might is as important as our nuclear capability, because our nuclear capability should be promoted in the court of public opinion, both at home and abroad, by our media.
Iran sits on the second largest oil and natural gas reserves in the world. Why should Iranians still have pocketbook problems? Where does the problem lie? The issue starts with mismanagement, individual decisions and lack of consultation.
Is arbitrary economy still meaningful in today’s world?
Some have chanted caustic slogans, it does not mean that they have committed murder. For such critical comments, advice is appropriate; jail-term is too draconian. Do not make a scene of trivial matters. If you want to have unity, you should let go of building such legal cases.
Why should we have political prisoners? We should do something to set all prisoners free. So, if moderation dominates in the country and we manage to isolate extremism, there will be no need for anyone to live behind bars in a country where justice and moderation prevail.