Saturday 5 January 2019 - 10:21

India hits out at US 'sermons' after Trump mocks PM Modi

Story Code : 770385
US President Donald Trump listens to India
US President Donald Trump listens to India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Leaders' Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina on November 30, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Trump said on Wednesday he got along very well with Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi but that Modi was "constantly telling me he built a library in Afghanistan."

"You know what that is? That's like five hours of what we spend," Trump told reporters at the White House. 

“And we are supposed to say, ‘oh, thank you for the library’. I don’t know who is using it in Afghanistan,” Trump added. 

The remarks drew condemnation from all Indian political parties, including opposition, which rallied behind Prime Minister Modi. 

"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," Ram Madhav, a BJP general secretary, said on Twitter.

"We are building lives, for which the Afghan people thank us, no matter what others do or don’t."

Trump’s remarks have also prompted response from India’s main opposition Congress, which said India did not “need sermons from the US on Afghanistan.”

Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel called Trump’s remarks as “completely unacceptable," urging Prime Minister Modi to firmly respond.

India says its projects worth $3 billion in Afghanistan speak for themselves. India’s projects in Afghanistan include a 218-kilometer road, a dam providing irrigation to farmers as well as training programs for more than 3,500 Afghans in India.

Trump has recently said that Russia, Pakistan and India should be intervening in Afghanistan, not the US. "Why are we there 6,000 miles away?" he said.

The US invaded Afghanistan seventeen years ago to oust the Taliban. The militant group’s five-year rule over at least three quarters of Afghanistan came to an end in the wake of the invasion in 2001, but it continues to flex its muscles against the government and the US-led foreign troops remaining on Afghan soil.

The Taliban have strengthened their grip over the past three years, with the government in Kabul controlling just 56 percent of the country, down from 72 percent in 2015, a recent US government report showed.

Taking advantage of the chaos, the Takfiri Daesh terror group has also established a foothold in the war-torn country.

Having failed to end the militancy campaign, Washington has over the past months stepped up its political efforts to secure a truce with Taliban. The US currently has some 14,000 troops in Afghanistan.