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Afghans Know India as Old Friend, Says Hamid Ansari as Trump Mocks India’s Library Funding in War-torn Nation

Donald Trump had taken a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for funding a library in Afghanistan, saying it was of no use in the war-torn country.

NEW DELHI: Amid global discussion on India-Afghanistan ties after US President Donald Trump’s recent remark, former vice president Hamid Ansari has said that Indian aid to Afghanistan has been appreciated by all governments. 
Donald Trump had taken a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for funding a library in Afghanistan, saying it was of no use in the war-torn country. He had criticised India and other countries for doing little for Afghanistan’s security.

Stressing on the fact that the aid has been helpful to the people of Afghanistan, the former ambassador to Kabul added that the assistance has been positive as it is in people-friendly areas like education and medicines.
“You meet an Afghan anywhere in the world and tell them you’re Indian, they will be warm towards you. They know that India has been an old friend of their country and has striven to work for their development. The successive governments in Afghanistan have supported and appreciated our aid,” he said while speaking to News18.
Ansari supported India’s stand of not sending soldiers on the ground. “Military assistance to Afghanistan should not be upped. The minute you start increasing the supply, the chances of it being used against somebody are high. And if India’s military aid is used, then we become the enemy too. We should be careful with military supplies,” he added. 

The former ambassador also emphasised on the importance of the sitting power not being hostile. “It is definitely to our advantage that those sitting in power are not hostile. If it were, then it would have been a problem for us. If we do developmental work and focus on people friendly goals, we should be fine,” he said.

He also said it was imperative for India to talk to anyone who is a contender for power and is capable of influencing the outcome. “Call them Taliban or anything you like but there is no reason for India to not talk to them,” he said. India had participated in the meeting being hosted by Russia on Afghanistan at a “non-official level” in Moscow where representatives of the Taliban were present.

The Moscow-format meeting on Afghanistan was held on November 9, 2018 and representatives of the Afghan Taliban radical movement took part in it.

While admitting that India has looked at Afghanistan strategically, the former vice president added that India wants to make sure that Afghanistan is not used by any other country against us. 

Ansari also added that it was important to attain a certain a level of neutralization between all nations when it comes to Afghanistan.

“We can do more in terms of neutralisation. The concept that nobody gets advantage should be worked upon. Everybody has some interest in Afghanistan. Let us find the lowest common multiple. And that is helping the people of Afghanistan in developmental activities. That essentially means no interference nor any diktat that Afghanistan will fashion its policies as per another country’s wishes,” he said, adding that everybody, be it Americans, Russians, Chinese or Iranians accept that they have only friendly, developmental ambitions in Afghanistan and that they would not interfere in their internal affairs.     

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