Kabul reacted with outrage and demanded clarification Tuesday after U.S. President Donald Trump said he has military plans that could wipe Afghanistan “off the face of the Earth,” killing millions of people.
Following Trump’s remarks, the office of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said in a statement that Afghanistan “will never allow any foreign power to determine its fate.”
“While the Afghan government supports the U.S. efforts for ensuring peace in Afghanistan,” the statement read, “the government underscores that foreign heads of state cannot determine Afghanistan’s fate in absence of the Afghan leadership.”
Trump’s comments came during a meeting in the Oval Office Monday with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“We’re not fighting a war,” Trump said of the U.S.-led conflict that has lasted nearly 18 years, the longest war in American history. “If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win that war in a week. I just don’t want to kill 10 million people.”
“I have plans on Afghanistan that, if I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the Earth. It would be gone,” the president added. “It would be over in, literally, in 10 days. And I don’t want to do that—I don’t want to go that route.”
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The Afghan public expressed revulsion at Trump’s remarks, which came as U.S. envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalizad arrived in the Middle East for talks with the Taliban.
Shakib Noori, an entrepreneur based in Kabul, told Reuters that Trump’s comments were “embarrassing and an insult to all Afghans.”
Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini expressed a similar sentiment, calling Trump’s statement “reckless” and “appalling.”
Rahmatullah Nabil, former Afghan intelligence chief and presidential candidate, slammed Trump on Twitter.
“Your insulting message to [Afghanistan],” Nabil wrote, “is either accept the [Pakistan] proposal for peace or eventually you may have to use nukes.”