Upset over New Delhi’s efforts in the Afghanistan peace process, United States President Donald Trump on Wednesday took a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for funding a library in the war-torn country by suggesting that it was of no use.
Speaking on the role of countries to facilitate dialogue with Afghanistan, Trump, who was addressing his first Cabinet meeting of the year, said, “I could give you an example where I get along very well with India and Prime Minister Modi. But he is constantly telling me, he built a library in Afghanistan. Library! That’s like five hours of what we spend (in Afghanistan).”
“And he (Modi) tells me. He is very smart. We are supposed to say, oh thank you for the library. Don’t know who’s using it (the library) in Afghanistan. But it’s one of those things. I don’t like being taken advantage of,” he added.
Alleging that countries were not doing enough in the war-ravaged country, the US President emphasised the need for regional countries, including India, Russia and Pakistan, to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan. He said, “Why is not Russia there (in Afghanistan, fighting the Taliban)? Why isn’t India there? Why isn’t Pakistan there? Why are we (US) there? We are 6,000 miles away. But I don’t mind. We want to help our people. We want to help other nations.”
Trump also drew a comparison between the expenses borne by the US and other countries in the peace talks. “What other countries have done for the last long period of time is given us some soldiers and then talk about it like it’s the end of the world. And we are subsidizing their military is by billions and billions and billions of dollars, many, many, many times, what those soldiers cost that country,” he said.
Claiming that the Afghan war costs billions of dollars to the US, Trump said, “I want people to treat us fairly”. He noted that heads of countries have told him that they are involved in the peace process by “just sending some 100 or 200 soldiers”.
Asked if India’s role in Afghanistan was going to be security related, Trump said, “We are going to be doing something that is right. We are talking to the Taliban. We are talking to a lot of different people.”
“But here’s the thing, because you mentioned India. India is there. Russia is there. Russia used to be the Soviet Union. Afghanistan made it Russia because they went bankrupt fighting in Afghanistan. Russia. So you tend to look at other countries. Pakistan is there. They should be fighting. But Russia should be fighting,” he said.
“The reason Russia was in Afghanistan was that terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there. The problem is it was a tough fight and literally they (Russia) went bankrupt,” he added.
In 2017, India and Afghanistan had agreed to initiate an ambitious and forward-looking ‘New Development Partnership’, according to which India agreed to take up 116 high-impact community development projects to be implemented in 31 provinces of Afghanistan, including in the fields of education, health, agriculture, irrigation, drinking water, renewable energy, flood control, micro-hydropower, sports infrastructure and administrative infrastructure.
Sources had told The Indian Express that the new Indian ambassador to Afghanistan, Vinay Kumar, has been in touch with the Afghan authorities to push forward these projects.