Trump’s remarks on India betray complete ignorance of Afghanistan’s history

Erika Holt
January 6, 2019

At the time the USA supported the anti-communist rebels, known as mujahedeen, whom President Ronald Reagan called freedom fighters.

During his freewheeling, 90-minute cabinet meeting Wednesday, President Donald Trump briefly argued that the Soviet Union "was right" to invade Afghanistan in 1979 because "terrorists were going into Russian Federation", a head-scratching aside that was widely criticized as historically inaccurate.

At a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Trump addressed his planned withdrawal of USA troops from Syria, which he abruptly announced a couple weeks back. The U.S. supported the anti-communists rebels against the Soviets.

Meanwhile, India hopes to have meaningful consultations with United States envoy for Taliban peace talks Zalmay Khalilzad during his possible visit here next week for Raisina Dialogue.

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?" We may expect a state visit - or at least an official visit - by Imran Khan to the U.S. in the near future in return for the invaluable service he's rendering to the US' regional strategies.

He said the United States has failed to win the war in Afghanistan and that is why Trump has removed his defence minister General James Mattis.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also joined Mr Patel in slamming Mr Trump.

The departure from the avowed USA position on an "Afghan-owned, Afghan-led" process has clearly ruffled feathers in Kabul. "Trump doesn't need to be taken seriously by anyone as what he's saying is not flowing from any wisdom or sagacity", Sahni said. The Bush and Obama administrations readily honoured these commitments and ensured that India was kept at an arm's length in the US' Afghan strategy throughout their tenures.

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The internal situation in Afghanistan is aggravated now by the uncertainty of the democratic process.

To give time to fix these problems, the presidential election that was scheduled to be held in April has now been deferred to July.

For India, these developments may appear discouraging, but a more pragmatic view is necessary to deal with all possible outcomes. Most of the USA military bases in Syria are located in the north, in the areas controlled by Kurdish militia who actively cooperated with the United States in the fight against the Islamists. "We look forward to a positive engagement with the U.S. at the leadership level".

This offer to meet with the new government in Pakistan is a breakaway from Trump's negative tone adopted around a year ago that he was cutting off security related aid to Pakistan because it was providing "a safe haven to terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help".

Some other hard truths must be faced: India cannot replace Pakistan's position geographically, nor can it ever offer the USA or any other force what Pakistan has offered in the past, including bases and permission for US forces to bomb its own territory.

"We appreciate India's important contributions to stability in Afghanistan". Russia. So you tend to look at other countries. Khalilzad had till now, skipped two visit to India.

Trump questioned the hesitation of other regional powers in getting involved in Afghanistan.

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