India rebuffs Trump over 'Afghan library' swipe

Published January 4, 2019
India says it has provided $3 billion in development assistance to Afghanistan. ─ Combo photo
India says it has provided $3 billion in development assistance to Afghanistan. ─ Combo photo

NEW DELHI: India rejected US President Donald Trump’s comments mocking Prime Minister Narendra Modi for funding a library in Afghanistan, saying on Thursday that New Delhi has provided $3 billion in development assistance to the war-torn country.

The US president on Wednesday took a swipe at what he claimed were Modi’s frequent comments on building the library: “You know what that is? That’s like five hours of what we spend. “And we’re supposed to say, ‘Oh, thank you for the library.’ I don’t know who’s using it in Afghanistan,” Trump said.

A statement provided by government sources in New Delhi said “India plays a significant role as a development partner,” in Afghanistan, with projects aimed at achieving “a tangible improvement in the lives of its people”.

As the “largest donor in the region”, New Delhi has helped with infrastructure projects, humanitarian assistance and economic development, the statement said.

Highlights include a 218-kilometre road, a dam providing irrigation to farmers and training programmes for more than 3,500 Afghans in India.

New Delhi has also provided 1.1 million tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan as well as a 400-bed children’s hospital built in 1972 and renovated after the fall of the Taliban in 2002.

Ram Madhav, general secretary of Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said on Twitter that India was “building lives” in Afghanistan.

Ahmed Patel, a lawmaker and a senior member of the opposition Congress party, tweeted that the “tenor and tone” of the US leader’s remarks was “not in good taste & is completely unacceptable”.

Published in Dawn, January 4th, 2019

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