Is Washington helping to stabilise the tensions between India and Pakistan or fuelling an arms race?

"Why re-arm both countries?" a Pakistani news presenter asked Robert Gates, the US secretary of defence, as he touched down in Islamabad for the first time since the Obama administration took office.

The surprised Pentagon chief dodged the question, but Gates and other officials explained that the decision to supply weapons to both countries was about building trust.

He said that the US needed to redeem the "trust-deficit" that the country had incurred by abandoning Afghanistan and Pakistan in 1989.

It was a "grave mistake" that America had left the two countries to their own devices after helping the mujahideen fight the Soviets, he told Pakistani leaders.

Winning greater trust would help the US advance its goals in the region, he said.

And besides, he said, if the two countries could get weapons anywhere, why not the US?

While praising both countries for their contributions to the war in Afghanistan, he urged them to cooperate in the fight against terror.

Inside Story host Sohail Rahmann is joined by retired General Ravi Sawhney, the former director general of Indian military intelligence and deputy chief of army staff, Ahmed Qaraishi, a political analyst, and Richard Weitz, the director of the Centre for Political-Military Analysis at the Hudson Institute.

This episode of Inside Story aired from Sunday, January 24.

Source: Al Jazeera