In a recent report, it was disclosed that India has signed a deal worth $647 million with US for purchase of 145 ultra-light howitzer (M-777) guns that can be swiftly deployed in forward and inaccessible areas by helicopters and aircrafts. The all-weather howitzers, has a range of 40 km. The two new mountain divisions being raised primarily for the eastern front with China, with around 15,000 soldiers each, are to be equipped with these ultra-light howitzers. This sale may alter the basic military balance in the region. This recent development in Indian defense expenditure would also affect the war against terror at a time when Pakistan is considering to expand the circle of its operation in North Waziristan. It might also kick off an arms race in the region. On one hand the US seeks Pakistans support in the war against terror while on the other it is assisting India to build pressure on Pakistans eastern borders. In the context of Pakistans measures related to its defense expenditure, an increase would now be inevitable. US should play a role for the revival of peace in the region that might help in reducing the vast budget allocations for defense purposes so that the same can be used for eradication of poverty in this part of the world. -MUHAMMAD WAQAS, Islamabad, February 1.