New Delhi: Hours after US President Donald Trump took a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over funding of a “library” in Afghanistan, Indian officials hit back saying that developmental assistance can play a major role in transforming the war-ravaged country.
The officials said that also India has been implementing a range of mega infrastructure projects as well as carrying out community development programmes in Afghanistan as per requirement of its people. They said such assistance would go a long way in making the country economically empowered and stable.
The statement came after Trump took a jibe ta PM Modi funding a “library” in Afghanistan, saying it is of no use in the war-torn country as he criticised India and others for not doing enough for the nation’s security.
In his first cabinet meeting in the new year Wednesday, Trump asked India, Russia, Pakistan and other neighbouring countries to take responsibility for Afghanistan’s security as he defended his push for the US to invest less overseas.
Trump referred to PM Modi as an example of how world leaders are talking about their contributions that were nowhere near the “billions of dollars” the US was spending.
In response, Indian officials said India may be building small libraries as part of the community development initiative, but most of its investments in Afghanistan were on mega infrastructure projects including the 218 km road from Zaranj to Delaram, the Salma Dam and the new Afghan Parliament building.
India has also been supplying military equipment to Afghanistan besides providing training to hundreds of Afghan security personnel.
The sources said India plays a significant role in the country as its development partner and that the partnership is built on the specific needs and requirements worked out with the Afghan government.
“India seeks to build capacities and capabilities of Afghan nationals and its institutions for governance and delivery of public service, develop socio-economic infrastructure, secure lives and promote livelihood,” said a source.
Besides mega infrastructure projects, India is implementing 116 new ‘High Impact Community Development Projects’ in 31 provinces of Afghanistan, including in the areas of education, health, agriculture, irrigation, drinking water, renewable energy, flood control, micro-hydropower, sports infrastructure, administrative infrastructure.
BJP general secretary Ram Madhav also reacted to Trump’s jibe at PM Modi, saying that India has been doing immense development work in Afghanistan for which the people of the war-ravaged country “thank us, no matter what others do or don’t”.
“May be Trump should know that while he is decrying every other help in Afghanistan, India has been building not only libraries, but roads, dams, schools and even parliament building. We are building lives, for which the Afghan people thank us, no matter what others do or don’t,” Madhav said in a tweet.
Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel also termed Trump’s remarks as “completely unacceptable” and asked the government to remind America of India’s assistance to Afghanistan.
Reacting to Trump’s dig, Patel said: “Tenor and tone of the US president describing the Prime Minister of India is not in good taste and is completely unacceptable.”
“Hope our government responds firmly and reminds America that since 2004, India has built extensive roads, dams in Afghanistan and pledged over USD 3 billion in assistance,” he tweeted.