NEW DELHI: US President Donald Trump on Wednesday sneered at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for funding a library in Afghanistan, even as he sought more Indian involvement in the strife-torn country.
He cited the example of Modi constantly telling him about a library India built in Afghanistan, adding “It’s like five hours of what we spend” and “I don’t know who is using it in Afghanistan.”
But sources in India expressed ignorance about any major library built by India in Afghanistan. “Some small library could have been built under some development partnership, but it’s unlikely the PM mentioned that to him,” said one source.
This appeared to be corroborated by Parwiz Kawa, an Afghan poet, journalist and winner of the East-West Center’s “Journalist of Courage & Impact” Award. Kawa tweeted a picture of the new Afghan parliament built with Indian help and said: “This is the “library” that president @realDonaldTrump is talking about.
He has mixed the parliament building with a library in a conversation with @narendramodi. I am not sure if the right people get into this building, but I know that this building is already in use.” The building was inaugurated by Modi on December 25, 2015.
In his rambling interview, Trump noted that “Russia used to be the Soviet Union. Afghanistan made it Russia because they went bankrupt fighting in Afghanistan,” and asked India, Russia, Pakistan and other neighbouring countries to take responsibility for Afghanistan’s security.
While the MEA remained officially tightlipped, senior sources pointed out that India firmly believes in the critical role that developmental assistance can play in transforming human lives, and that it does not send its armed forces abroad except under the specific mandate of UN Peacekeeping Operations.
“India plays a significant role as a development partner in Afghanistan,” said one source.
“This partnership is built on the specific needs and requirements worked out jointly with the Government of Afghanistan, and is aimed at the welfare of the people of Afghanistan and for a tangible improvement in the lives of its people.”
Another source was far less charitable. “I would be surprised if the US president can actually spell library, leave alone ever having been in one. Comparing a library with five hours of US efforts there is a clear sign of his own limited intellectual capacity.” he said.
“Besides, did we ask the US to go and invade Afghanistan? But now, after spending billions and billions of dollars, he wants to hand it back to the Taliban and Pakistan on a plate, so that they can plot another 9/11 there and Islamabad can claim plausible deniability. We are doing what we can to help our Afghan friends rebuild their country, and will continue to do so. We don’t need or seek Mr Donald Trump’s approval for it.”