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The seats around the Afghan round table

4 1 11

By Rakesh Sood

One year ago, on New Year’s Day, the Indian establishment welcomed U.S. President Donald Trump’s tweet: “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollar in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

This year, in a Cabinet meeting on January 3, he rambled, “I get along very well with India and Prime Minister Modi. But he is constantly telling me he built a library in Afghanistan. Okay, a library… That’s like, you know what that is? That’s like five hours of what we spend [in Afghanistan]. And he tells it and he is very smart.

And we are supposed to say, oh, thank you for the library.” This left those in the Indian establishment miffed and scratching their heads, only to conclude that Mr. Trump possibly mistook the Parliament building in Kabul built by India at a cost of $90 million for a library.

Mr. Trump is frustrated with his Afghanistan policy and is desperately seeking a way out. To be fair, when he announced his Afghanistan policy in August 2017, he had said that his original instinct was to pull out. He was persuaded otherwise by his then Defence Secretary James Mattis, Chief of Staff John Kelly, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, and Afghanistan commander Gen. John W. Nicholson, all of whom have since been replaced, making it easier for him to follow his ‘instinct’.

Currently, the U.S. spends $45 billion a year in Afghanistan, including $5 billion for Afghan security forces and $780 million on economic assistance. The balance is for U.S. forces and logistical support. These figures have reduced over time, as U.S. troop deployment is down to 15,000 now from 100,000 in 2010. However, over the last 18 years, the cumulative cost to the U.S. has been estimated at $800 billion on U.S. deployments and $105 billion in rebuilding Afghanistan. About 2,400 U.S.
troops have been........

© The Kashmir Monitor