Said Farhad Akbari, a community leader in the province, told RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan on January 14 that more than 300 people at an informal “jirga,” or council, of concerned citizens agreed to award the medal to the U.S. president.
“This is a handmade medal from available gold,” Akbari said.
He said the handwritten message on the award states: “This Bravery Medal is from the Afghan people to Donald Trump, president of the United States of America.”
Akbari said the cost of the medal was about 45,000 Afghanis ($645), considered a large sum for many in the region, about 60 kilometers outside of the capital, Kabul.
He said those supporting the award paid from their own funds and that he personally presented the medal to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul on January 13.
Akbari, who said he fought against Taliban extremists in southeastern Logar Province in recent years, now is head of the Saadat tribe in the region and operates a construction company.
Akbari told RFE/RL that members of the community have “waited 16 years” for someone in the U.S. administration to make comments of the sort that Trump has made in recent weeks concerning Pakistan.
The government in Kabul has long accused Pakistan of backing and sheltering militants who carry out attacks on their soil. Islamabad denies the allegations.
Trump and other U.S. officials have also accused Pakistan of providing a safe haven for the insurgents, who often attack Afghan government, civilian, and religious sites, along with U.S. coalition forces.
In a Twitter posting on New Year’s Day, Trump accused Islamabad of taking $33 billion in aid over the past 15 years while offering back “nothing but lies & deceit.”
The White House later announced it was suspending some $2 billion in assistance to Pakistan’s military until it did more to fight terrorism.
Pakistan military chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa on January 12 said his entire nation feels “betrayed over U.S. recent statements despite decades of cooperation.”
The United States has been in Afghanistan since 2001, when it led an invasion to drive the Taliban from power after it said the group’s leaders were sheltering Al-Qaeda militants responsible for the September 11, 2001, terror attacks in the United States.
U.S. forces have remained as part of a NATO-led coalition ever since, although active combat operations were turned over to Afghan forces in 2014, and international troop levels have fallen from a peak of more than 100,000 to about 16,000.
Donald Trump’s tougher approach on Pakistan: Analysis by Kadwal, Kabul
Appreciating the US President Donald Trump’s tougher approach on Pakistan that acknowledges the very obvious truth, the Afghan masses have honored President Trump with a ‘Bravery Medal.’ The initiative was taken in informal Jirga in which at least 300 tribal elders and youth from Logar province gathered and expressed their gratitude to the President Trump for his realistic and widely popular stance against Pakistan—a country that has been harboring, sheltering and exporting more than 55 terrorist and extremist groups, including the Afghan Taliban and the notorious Haqqani network—the two groups and their Pakistani masters have been responsible for tens of thousands of Afghan casualties and more than 3,500 US soldiers and civilians fatalities in a bid to destabilize its neighbors and undermine US mission. President Trump scored a high level of popularity among the Afghan masses when he announced his tougher, but realistic approach on Pakistan over its lies and deceit with little help in war on terror with receiving billions of dollars in aid. The Afghan government also welcomed the US decision on Pakistan. Moreover, the ethnic Pashtun, Baloch and Sindhi populations in Pakistan that have been going through the worst type of suppression and brutalities by the Pakistan’s security agencies have also warmly appreciated President Trump for his tougher and win-win line towards Pakistan. A number of elders and youth from FATA, Balochistan and Sindhuedsh in their video and twitter messages have extended their good wishes to President Trump and wished him long life. Now, it’s up to the Trump’s administration to safeguard US interests in the region by holding Pakistan accountable for its continued lies and deceits, or proves it a tactic of pressure building measures. Times has arrived for the US and NATO member countries to be no more deceived at the hands of Pakistan through its so-called military incursions in various parts of Tribal Region, known as FATA, unfortunately. We have long witnessed that a number of Pakistan’s minor and major military incursion in FATA, resulting only in sufferings of innocent Pashtuns, but more strength and space to terrorist groups—enjoying safe and luxury havens in big cities of that country. The Haqqani network, Afghan Taliban, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Sepah-e-Sahaba, TTP, Jamaat UD Dawaa and its leader Hafiz Saeed—UN designated terrorist still remains untouchable. As far as concerned to the Afghan government and people, Kabul’s official policy of genuinely trying to make peace with its neighbors and changing Pakistan’s Taliban game was initiated at the beginning of 2015. Our neighbor, and a major supportive of the Afghan government, China, a long-time ally of Islamabad and the US, the biggest donor of it got on board and the Quadrilateral Group—along with Kabul and Islamabad launched a fresh round of peace efforts. This along with several regional economic cooperation initiatives involving Central, West and South Asian countries provided Pakistan with the perfect opportunity to turn around and abandon its project of terrorism, but Islamabad stubbornly stuck to its old Afghan course and its war proxies expanded and intensified its onslaught in Afghanistan. Suspending military aid to Pakistan, exercising tougher approach on it, expansion of military role in Afghanistan and recognizing India as a major strategic partner in South Asia are positive signals in the US policy on Afghanistan and South Asia, staying the course will be the determining factor in changing Pakistan’s behavior. If not, the US and NATO military operations against safe terror havens in Pakistan could not be ignored. In first phase, the US drone strikes should be increased in FATA and later on extend to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Punjab and Islamabad to kill terrorists in their havens and revisit the so-called Durand Line to bring durable peace and stability to the region.
By Kadwal, Kabul