WASHINGTON DC (TIP): US President Donald Trump announced a comprehensive review of the US South Asia policy in Afghanistan and the region. Calling out Pakistan’s duplicitous role in harboring agents of terror and violence on its soil, Trump called for further developing strategic partnership with India, ‘the world’s largest democracy and a key security and economic partner of the United States.’ Noting that billions of dollars were given as aid to Pakistan Trump declared, “They are housing the very terrorists we are fighting……That will have to change and that will change immediately. No partnership can survive a country’s harboring of terrorists.”
President Trump hailed India’s role in stabilizing Afghanistan, adding, “We appreciate India’s important contributions to stability in Afghanistan, but India makes billions of dollars in trade from the United States, and we want them to help us war with Afghanistan, especially in the area of economic assistance and development.” Even as Trump elevates India’s bilateral status as an un-declared ally, in Afghanistan, India has long shared cultural, social, economic and security ties with the beleaguered nation. In the region, India is the biggest regional donor to Afghanistan and globally the fifth largest donor with over $3 billion in assistance. India has been an active partner in the reconstruction and infrastructure development in Afghanistan, building critical infrastructure including roadways, highways, dams, electricity lines, educational centers and even the Afghan Parliament building. India also trains Afghan military officers. Reinforcing its partnership with India and rebuking Pakistan for its role in terror activities in the region, Trump is strengthening India’s image as a force for good, democracy and stability. This shift in American policy in South Asia carries huge implications regarding India’s role vis-a- vis both Pakistan and China.
Sanjay Puri, Chairman, US India Political Action Committee, said, “President Trump has recognized India’s key role in maintaining peace and stability in South Asia. As close strategic allies, India and the US can defeat ISIS and the Taliban and ensure stability in South Asia and Afghanistan.”