A community gathering in Afghanistan’s Logar Province has awarded U.S. President Donald Trump a “bravery” medal, thanking him for his tough stance against Pakistan.
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.