New Delhi: Hours after US President Donald Trump took a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for funding a library in Afghanistan,
saying it is of no use in the war-torn country, Indian officials said developmental help can be critical to transforming the war-ravaged nation.
Trump also criticised India and others for not doing enough for the land-locked nation’s security. “India firmly believes in the critical role that developmental assistance can play in transforming human lives,” said government sources on Thursday.
Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel also on Thursday termed Trump’s ‘library’ comment 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 $3 billion in assistance,” he tweeted.
Though the US has been pressing India to send troops to Afghanistan, a demand repeatedly rejected by India, this is the first time the US administration has publicly mocked India’s developmental works in the strife-torn country.
In his first Cabinet meeting of the year on Wednesday, President Trump asked India, Russia, Pakistan and other neighbouring countries to take responsibility for the security of Afghanistan, where he has ordered a troop reduction on an unspecified timetable.
Trump in his comments to his Cabinet colleagues referred to Prime Minister 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 his remarks, Trump said: “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).”
“And he (Modi) tells me. He is very smart. We are supposed to say, oh thank you for the library. Don’t know who’s using it (the library) in Afghanistan. But it’s one of those things. I don’t like being taken advantage of,” he said.
“I say this, India. (I have) great relationship with Prime Minister Modi. He is a great gentleman and a great man and he’s done a fantastic job. He has brought the country together,” Trump said.
(With inputs from PTI)