WASHINGTON/NEW DELHI: US President Donald Trump on Monday night reached out to India seeking an enhanced role for New Delhi, especially in the economic field, to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan.
India, the world’s largest democracy, is a key security and economic partner of the United States, the US President said.
“We appreciate India’s important contributions to stability in Afghanistan, but India makes billions of dollars in trade with the United States, and we want them to
help us more with Afghanistan+
, especially in the area of economic assistance and development,” Trump said.
Trump lambasts Pakistan
Trump cleared the way for the deployment of thousands more US troops to Afghanistan, backtracking from his promise to swiftly end America’s longest war, while pillorying ally Pakistan for offering safe haven to “agents of chaos.”
In his first formal address to the nation as commander-in-chief, Trump discarded his previous criticism of the 16-year-old war as a waste of time and money, admitting things looked different from “behind the desk in the Oval Office.”
“My instinct was to pull out,” Trump admitted as he spoke of frustration with a war that has killed thousands of US troops and cost US taxpayers trillions of dollars.
But following months of discussion, Trump said he had concluded “the consequences of a rapid exit are both predictable and unacceptable” and leaving a “vacuum” that terrorists “would instantly fill.”
While Trump refused to offer detailed troop numbers, senior White House officials said he had already authorized his defense secretary to deploy up to 3,900 more troops to Afghanistan.
A conflict that began in October 2001 as a hunt for the 9/11 attackers has turned into a vexed effort to keep Afghanistan’s divided and corruption-hindered democracy alive amid a brutal Taliban insurgency.
Trump warned that the approach would now be more pragmatic than idealistic. Security assistance to Afghanistan was “not a blank check” he said, warning he would not send the military to “construct democracies in faraway lands or create democracies in our own image.”
“We are not nation building again. We are killing terrorists.”
Trump indicated that single-minded approach would extend to US relations with troubled ally Pakistan, which consecutive US administrations have criticized for links with the Taliban and for harboring leading jihadists — like Osama bin Laden.
“We can no longer be silent about
Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations+
,” he said warning that vital aid could be cut.
“We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting,” he said. “That will have to change and that will change immediately.”
Trump warned he could reduce security assistance for Pakistan unless the nuclear-armed nation cooperates more in preventing militants from using safe havens on its soil.
(With inputs from agencies)