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Saturday, April 13, 2024

‘Useless’ library vs billion dollars: What Afghans really need?

News Analysis |

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the latest subject of President Donald Trump’s mockery for funding a library in Afghanistan. While making general comments about the state of affairs in Afghanistan, Donald Trump brought up the contents of his meeting with Indian Premier Narendra Modi about how he kept telling him that India funded a library in Afghanistan, which as per President Trump was redundant. “You know what that is? That’s like five hours of what we spend,” Trump said. “And we’re supposed to say, ‘Oh, thank you for the library.’ I don’t know who’s using it in Afghanistan,” Trump said.

Responding to Trump’s mockery, New Delhi has said that the development projects in Afghanistan speak for themselves to answer for President Trump’s ignorance. “India firmly believes in the critical role that developmental assistance can play in transforming human lives. India does not send its armed forces abroad except under the specific mandate of the UN Peacekeeping Operations,” the official Indian stance which has been consistent over the years.

Talking strictly in terms of strategic leverage, India has achieved much more with its total lump sum amount of $3 billion dollars spent in Afghanistan than the United States spending $45 billion each year.

In terms of finance, President Donald Trump is absolutely right that the total sum spent on building the library might just what the U.S spends in 5 hours, even less, in Afghanistan. But the real question remains that how much of an impact or “bang for the buck” has the United States of America managed to get in terms of soft power among the Afghan populace after 17 years and billions of dollars spent?

Indian Projects in Afghanistan                  

For the reasons more strategic rather altruistic, India has proactively been one of the leading nation builders in war-torn Afghanistan after the U.S invasion in the wake of 9/11. NATO and the United States have particularly been focused on elimination of extremist elements of banned outfits such as Al Qaeda form the Afghan soil, India has intelligently, and quite discreetly, kept on funneling the huge money to aid the development projects and consolidate its position in Afghanistan from where it has waged hybrid war against Pakistan. So far, New Delhi has spent as much as $3 billion on the development projects which includes power projects, communication channels, education, and health initiatives.

Read more: Modi and Trump have their first call after his inauguration

After spending billions and even sacrificing the lives of its soldiers fighting against the Taliban, the United States of America has been able to extract little to no support base among common Afghans. Contrary to this, the general projection of India is way overwhelming in Afghanistan even compared to Pakistan which has always stood with the country since the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Afghanistan-India Friendship Dam built in Herat for over $290 million was entirely funded from Indian side which reduced Afghanistan’s dependence on neighboring countries for irrigation and electricity. Similarly, the current Afghan parliament building was also sponsored by India with $90 million in funds. India has been offering a higher education scholarship for 1000 Afghan students every year. It is one of the long-term investments especially for a country where education is a rare commodity.

What has India Managed to Achieve?

India has managed to consolidate grounds and logistical proximity to Pakistan via Afghanistan. It has orchestrated one of the lethal hybrid warfare inside Pakistan inflicting economic loss mounting up to billions of dollars and thousands of Pakistanis perished in the process. The support from the Afghan state apparatus has helped India to maximize the loss.

Read more: Who uses library in Afghanistan: Trump mocks Modi

Pakistan has also suffered in terms of global reputation and name shaming for something which was imposed from the conventional foe via a lawless country right next to its border. Talking strictly in terms of strategic leverage, India has achieved much more with its total lump sum amount of $3 billion dollars spent in Afghanistan than the United States spending $45 billion each year.

The number has come down due to downsizing of troops, or else during 2010-2012 when the U.S had its maximum military strength, it was nearly $100 billion dollars each year. However, it is not the U.S which has to lose anything due to Indian soft power, but Pakistan which has to and continues to sacrifice blood due to India’s dirty war.