Trump jabs India on Afghan role

Trump said that other nations currently are making very less efforts against the terrorists in Afghanistan. (Reuters Photo)

Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposed meeting with him in France, US President Donald Trump rubbed New Delhi the wrong way again, saying it was not fair that India did not fight IS terrorists in Afghanistan.

“Look, India is right there. They are not fighting it (IS). We (the US) are fighting it,” Trump told journalists in Washington DC.

The American president was responding to a question on the re-emergence of ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) in Afghanistan.

He made the comment just a day after surprising the Modi government once again by stating that he would do his best to mediate between India and Pakistan to help defuse the “very explosive situation” in Kashmir.

New Delhi had last month strongly refuted Trump’s claim that Modi had requested him to play the role of a mediator between the two South Asian neighbours to help settle the Kashmir dispute.

With the proposed meeting between Modi and Trump on the sidelines of G-7 summit at Biarritz in south-western France just days away, New Delhi refrained from reacting to the American president’s latest comment on mediating between India and Pakistan.

Trump, however, did not relent and fired yet another salvo to New Delhi, pointing out that India was not fighting the IS in Afghanistan despite being in the neighbourhood of the war-torn country.

He didn’t spare Islamabad either. “Pakistan is right next door (to Afghanistan). They’re fighting it (IS) very little — very, very little. It’s not fair.”

Trump had on January 2 mocked India’s role in Afghanistan, which had been limited to funding development projects in the country without sending troops to join the war against Taliban.

He said the US was thousands of miles away from Afghanistan and other countries where the IS was active. Yet it had fought the IS and decimated the caliphate in Iraq. He added that countries like India, Pakistan, Russia, Iran, Iraq and Turkey would have to “fight their battles” against the IS as the US would not keep its troops to fight terrorists in Afghanistan for another 19 years.

This is not the first time that Trump has made critical remarks about India’s role in Afghanistan.

“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),” Trump had told mediapersons in Washington DC in January. He was apparently drawing a comparison between the amount of money the US and other countries were spending in Afghanistan.

New Delhi had dismissed the jibe, underlining that its $3-billion development assistance had indeed transformed the lives of people in Afghanistan. New Delhi had also rejected the US president’s suggestion that India should have sent its soldiers to Afghanistan to fight Taliban. India had stressed that it had never sent its armed forces to a foreign country “except under the specific mandate of the United Nations’ peacekeeping operations”.

India had financed a number of development projects in Afghanistan, including road, power transmission network and hydro-electric-cum-irrigation projects. It has not yet funded the construction of a library though. Sources in Kabul and New Delhi, however, are of the view that Trump might have mistaken the new Afghan Parliament building, which the Government of India had constructed at a cost of $90 million, as “a library”. Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani inaugurated the new building in Kabul on December 25, 2015.

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