• Sunday, June 16, 2024

ASIA

India’s growing importance leaves Canada isolated in row over Nijjar murder

New Delhi is being courted by the US and others as a counterweight to China and this means Ottawa is severely outgunned diplomatically

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (REUTERS/Mike Segar)

By: Chandrashekar Bhat

CANADA this week divulged it had intelligence possibly linking Indian government agents to the murder of a separatist Sikh leader, the kind of news that usually sparks uproar among democratic allies. Not this time.

India is being courted by the United States and others as a counterweight to China, and this means Canada, with a population of just 40 million people, is severely outgunned diplomatically.

“India is important in Western calculations for balancing China, and Canada is not,” said Stephanie Carvin, a professor of international relations at Ottawa’s Carleton University.

“This really does put Canada offside among all other Western countries,” she said in a phone interview.

Prime minister Justin Trudeau announced on Monday (18) that Canada was “actively pursuing credible allegations” that Indian agents had potentially been involved in the murder of Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June.

At that point Ottawa had already been discussing the matter with key allies such as the Five Eyes intelligence sharing alliance, which also includes the US, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

The results so far have been muted. Britain refused to publicly criticise India and said bilateral trade talks will continue as planned. Indeed, a statement from foreign secretary James Cleverly about the affair did not mention India by name.

Britain is in a difficult position, caught between supporting Canada and antagonising India, a country it wants as a trading partner and ally to help confront China, said Chietigj Bajpaee, India expert at the Chatham House think tank in London.

“Short of there being any definitive evidence of India’s involvement, I think the UK response is likely to remain muted,” he said. A free trade deal would be a “major political win” for both India and Britain, Bajpaee said.

‘Waiting game’

White House national security advisor John Kirby said the US was “deeply concerned,” and encouraged Indian officials to cooperate in any investigation. India rejects the idea it was involved in the murder.

The Washington Post reported Trudeau had pushed for a joint statement condemning India at last week’s Group of 20 summit in New Delhi and was turned down by the US and others.

Kirby said “any reports that we rebuffed Canada in any way whatsoever are false, and we will continue to coordinate and consult with them on this.”

The muted response to Trudeau’s allegations is stark when compared to the uproar after Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned by nerve agent in England in 2018. Britain, the US, Canada and others threw out more than 100 Russian diplomats to punish Moscow for an attack it has always denied carrying out.

“Our Five Eyes partners are understandably reluctant to really wade into this, given everybody’s interest in advancing ties with India, in the context of the ongoing tension with China,” said Wesley Wark of the Centre for International Governance Innovation think tank in Waterloo, Ontario.

“It’s a bit of a waiting game. If the Canadians come up with very solid evidence about egregious Indian state involvement in an assassination attempt, I think we’ll hear more from our allies in support,” he said.

With allies unwilling to contemplate any kind of joint condemnation of India, the Canadian options now look limited, at least until it can provide incontrovertible evidence.

“If we don’t get our allies to support this, either publicly or privately, Canada’s not going to be able to do a great deal to move India,” said Richard Fadden, former head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

“And I think the greatest thing we can aspire to in the short term or the medium term is to get India not to do this again,” he told CTV.

Canadian government sources indicated they would have preferred to wait longer before making a statement, but felt they had to act, given some domestic media outlets were about to break the story.

Trudeau would have never spoken “out loud if we didn’t have the information lining up into a fact base”, said one source, adding that they hoped more information would come soon.

Canada has not made public the intelligence it has because there is an active murder investigation, the senior source said.

“On the cusp of the global opportunity for India, they absolutely need to handle this responsibly – for their own interests,” the source said.

(Reuters)

Related Stories

Videos

Mrunal Thakur on Dhamaka, experience of working with Kartik Aaryan,…
Nushrratt Bharuccha on Chhorii, pressure of comparison with Lapachhapi, upcoming…
Abhimanyu Dassani on Meenakshi Sundareshwar, how his mom Bhagyashree reacted…

Adblocker detected! Please consider reading this notice.

We've detected that you are using Ad Blocker or some other adblocking software which is preventing the page from fully loading.

We strive to deliver high-quality content and experiences. To help us continue, please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker.  We use non-intrusive ads to keep our content free.

We don't have any banner, Flash, animation, obnoxious sound, or popup ad. We do not implement these annoying types of ads!

We need money to operate the site, and almost all of it comes from our online advertising.

Please add EasternEye.biz to your ad blocking whitelist or disable your adblocking software.

×