This study looks in detail at the key military and security links between India and Pakistan and the countries of the Middle East, and the implications these could have for regional stability. It examines five key areas: India's special relationship with Israel; regional rivalries in Afghanistan; Pakistan's relationship with the Middle East; Islamabad's indirect assistance to Iranian and Syrian ballistic missile programmes; and finally, the 'Islamic bomb' and its ramifications for the two regions. The section on Afghanistan assesses the relationship between India, Iran and Pakistan and their support for the United Front and the Taliban prior to the military engagement of the US-led coalition following the 11 September terrorist attacks.
One of the most intriguing developments in India's relations with the Middle East is the emergence of a strong Indo-Israeli partnership. Political and military relations have changed almost beyond recognition since 1990. Back then India had minimal diplomatic relations with Israel; New Delhi was one of the strongest supporters of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Israel only had one consulate in India, located in Bombay. In addition India was one of the first nations to accord diplomatic status to the PLO. Although India recognised the state of Israel in 1950, it was not until 1992 that bilateral diplomatic ties were developed under then Indian Prime Minister Narasimha Rao. Narasimha Rao's administration and the next two United Front governments continued to be circumspect in their dealings with Israel. 1 It took the electoral victory of Atal Vajpayee's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 1998 for Israel and India to develop close bilateral relations in the political, economic and, significantly, military arenas. Vajpayee wanted to break free from New Delhi's traditional ties with Arab states, nurtured by succeeding governments for fear of disrupting oil supplies from the Middle East. A year after the BJP took office the Defence, Home and External Affairs Ministers made official visits to Israel, and in the period 1992-2000 bilateral trade reached approximately $1 billion. India has purchased Israeli