Dear Mr Trump, Indo-Afghan Ties Are Much, Much More Than a Library

The Indo-Afghan relationship goes beyond Trump’s claim that India hasn’t contributed enough in the war-torn nation.

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Dear Mr Trump, Indo-Afghan Ties Are Much, Much More Than a Library
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In his first Cabinet meeting of the year, US President Donald Trump on Thursday, 3 January, expressed dissatisfaction over India's contributions in fighting terror in Afghanistan.

Taking a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for funding a library in Afghanistan, Trump wondered what the utility of India’s initiative was. “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 said.


Trump’s statement echoed his speech from August 2017, in which he had suggested that India should provide more economic assistance to the US to rebuild Afghanistan as it makes "billions of dollars in trade with the country (US),” the Washington Post reported.

But India’s contribution to Afghanistan goes beyond military assistance. In 2005, New Delhi had proposed granting membership of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to Afghanistan.

Indo-Afghan Relationship Runs Deeper

Diplomatic ties between India and Afghanistan have grown stronger since 2010. India has repeatedly extended a helping hand to Afghanistan on several occasions for rebuilding the war-torn country. In December 2015, PM Modi inaugurated the new Afghan Parliament building that was constructed by India at a cost of $90 million.

Still, the Indo-Afghan relationship runs deeper than diplomacy.

Apart with Bollywood, cricket too is popular in the country. Afghan players have performed well in the Indian Premier League, and the nation played its first-ever international Test match against India in Bengaluru in June 2018.

'Not Just a Library'

Over the years, New Delhi has aided rebuilding Afghanistan’s education sector.

India has built over 200 public and private schools in Afghanistan, it sponsors over 1,000 scholarships, and hosts over 16,000 Afghan students in India annually. Former President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, is also an alumnus of a university in Himachal Pradesh.

Moreover, India has built more than 4,000 km of roads, such as the Zaranj-Dilaram highway, dams and hydropower plants in Afghanistan.


India One of the Biggest Donors to Afghanistan

India has extended $3 billion plus in assistance to the war-torn nation since its Taliban government was overthrown by coalition forces in 2001, according to Brookings India. As noted by Afghanistan’s Ambassador to India, Shaida Abdali, at an event in 2017, India remains the country’s biggest regional donor and the fifth largest donor globally.

Strategic Partners

Since the formation of the Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF) under the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in 2015, over 4,000 Afghan troops have been trained in Indian military institutions.

In fact, India met with Russia in December 2018 and the two nations reiterated their support for establishing peace in Afghanistan, The Economic Times reported.

As the US mulls over withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, national security advisers (NSAs) of India and Afghanistan will meet in Delhi on 4 January to discuss the security situation in the country.

India is also planning to supply additional military hardware to help combat terrorism, contrary to claims that India’s contribution in Afghanistan is insufficient.

It only goes to show that while PM Modi might have spoken about a library, India’s ties with Afghanistan are much, much more than that.

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Topics:  Afghanistan   donald trump   US President 

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