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by RAY FLEMING
PRESIDENT Bush will not need to beat the democracy drum during his two-day visit to India. In fact, India is the biggest democracy in the world and it works despite the disadvantages of extreme poverty and illiteracy in many parts of the country, especially the rural areas. After years when India was treated with suspicion by the West it is now regarded as a model developing country with a well–educated middle-class and an economy that is currently growing at about six per cent per year. The American president's visit should therefore be easy-going but unfortunately the issue of nuclear co-operation between the two countries may spoil it. When India tested a nuclear bomb in 1998, Washington responded with sanctions but it has now offering to provide India with sensitive nuclear technology for civilian purposes if it will separate its military and civilian research programmes. There are doubts whether India can do this, or wants to do so, but the wider issue is whether the United States should be ready to help India at all given that its 1998 weapon test put it in breach of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It is a complicated issue but, once again, it shows how the United States is ready to turn a blind eye to help its friends while criticising its opponents, Iran for instance, for acting in much the same way. After India President Bush moves on to Pakistan where a very different situation prevails. Democracy is paper thin and, to all intents and purposes, President Musharraf is a military dictator who is finding it increasingly difficult to keep his country under control. Following Pakistan's development of a nuclear weapon in the late1990s America broke off diplomatic relations; they were restored when President Mussarraf decided to side with the West over the invasion of Afghanistan and the suppression of the Taleban there. Much of the current unrest stems from that decision and it is an open question whether greater democracy would help to calm the situation in the short term.