Israeli PM Sharon Makes Unprecedented Visit to India; Will India and Pakistan Send Troops to Iraq?

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As Ariel Sharon begins his three-day visit to India and as the White House continues to pressure Indian troops to come to Iraq- Democracy Now! goes to India and to Pakistan and hosts a debate between journalists C. Raja Mohan, Praful Bidwai and M. Ziauddin.

Ariel Sharon begins his three-day state visit to India today. He is the first Israeli Prime Minister to ever visit the country.

Just hours before the visit, a Bhartiya Janata Party spokesperson in Delhi said, “If any country is making an effort to join the war against terrorism especially after September 11, we cannot ignore [Israel].”

Interestingly, Palestinian foreign minister Nabeel Shaath was in India a week ago and said that India must not forget its historical ties with the Palestinian struggle for independence.

Meanwhile, Pakistani papers have been talking about fears of an anti-Muslim Jewish-Hindu axis.

The New York Times reports that, “Israeli munitions have proved particularly valuable for India as it tries to bulk up its conventional defenses against its nuclear-armed neighbor, Pakistan. Israel has supplied India with surface-to-air missiles, avionics, sophisticated sensors to monitor cross-border traffic, remotely piloted drones and artillery. After Russia, Israel is India’s second largest supplier of arms.

India and Israel are currently negotiating the transfer of three Phalcon airborne early-warning radar, command, and control systems — after the United States lifted its objection this year to the sale. The Phalcon, long coveted by both India and China, is a long-range Israeli-made system that will be fitted onto Russian-built military transport planes.’

  • C. Raja Mohan, Strategic Affairs Editor of The Hindu and author of Crossing the Rubicon-The Shaping of India’s New Foreign Policy (New Delhi, Viking, 2003). Speaking from New Delhi.
  • M. Ziauddin, Resident Editor of The Dawn, Islamabad.
  • Praful Bidwai, former senior editor of _ The Times of India_. Bidwai is a freelance journalist and regular columnist for several leading newspapers in India. He is an associate editor of Security Dialogue, a member of the International Network of Engineers and Scientists against Proliferation and co-founder of the Movement in India for Nuclear Disarmament. His latest book, co-authored with Achin Vinaik and with an introduction by author and peace activist Arundhati Roy, is New Nukes: India, Pakistan and Global Nuclear Disarmament (Interlink 1999).

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