Why Trudeau versus India is a political game of absurdities

Why Trudeau versus India is a political game of absurdities

Sep 29, 2023 - 01:30
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Why Trudeau versus India is a political game of absurdities

Every day, we see an escalation – Canada’s defence of Khalistani terror, India’s firm rejection of Trudeau’s charges and his politics.

This has now reached global forums. This week, it was brought up at the United Nations General Assembly. India’s external affairs minister S Jaishankar addressing world leaders said, “political convenience must not determine responses to terrorism”. Without naming Canada, he called them out. Later in the day, he spoke at another event on the sidelines. This time he was far more direct. “Our concern is that it’s [Canada’s] really been very permissive because of political reasons. And, a lot of this is often justified as saying, that’s how democracies work.”

That’s classic Jaishankar – does not mince his words. His tone is even and his message unambiguous. He basically said: Canada is harbouring extremists because it suits their politics. And it is this politics that is driving Canada’s agenda, not any commitment to democratic values.
It’s unfortunate that this has to be said, over and over again because Trudeau’s motivations are quite obvious. A textbook example of votebank politics and justifying terrorism as freedom of expression. It’s been more than a week since he spoke in Parliament. What has followed is more accusations and selective leaks. No proof, though.

The absurdity…

What is Trudeau’s biggest charge against India? That there’s an Indian hand in the killing of a Khalistani terrorist in Canada. Trudeau says his allegations are “credible”, and India must cooperate in the probe.

Does that mean India is not cooperating? At least, that seems to be the implication. Well, here is India’s response. “We told the Canadians saying that, look, if you have something specific, if you have something relevant, let us know. We are open to looking at it.”

“If you have something specific or relevant, show us” – sounds like a fair argument. If Canada does have these so called “credible” inputs, why is it shy of sharing them? The killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who India calls a designated terrorist and Canada a plumber, a citizen and a Sikh activist happened in June. Prime Minister Trudeau raised his death only three months later. That too, in the Canadian Parliament. Must’ve been a high-profile plumber. Trudeau accused India of ordering the hit. India called the charge absurd.

… even before the killing

You know what else is absurd? Ottawa’s charge of foreign interference. And this pre-dates the current diplomatic dispute. Canada raised this in June when Trudeau’s national security advisor Jody Thomas said: “India is among top sources of foreign interference in Canada”. Jaishankar said, Canada is the one that interferes in Indian politics. “So, we have a situation where actually our diplomats are threatened. Our consulates have been attacked. And you know, and often comments are made about … there’s interference in our politics”.

He’s talking about Khalistani terrorists. They want to break up India. And Canada is harbouring and shielding them. Khalistanis have launched campaigns against India and its political leadership. They’re targeting Indian missions and temples. Why is Canada supporting them?

“Is the Trudeau government a friend of Khalistanis?” One of his ministers was asked this question. He rejected the charge. This was last week. Now India has weighed in. “We have actually been badgering the Canadians. We have given them a lot of information about organized crime leadership, which operates out of Canada. And there are a large number of extradition requests. There are terrorist leaders who have been identified,” Jaishankar said.

The ‘undiplomacy’

Intelligence, information and extradition requests – India has given all of this. But Ottawa refuses to act. “We cannot bend the rules of state-to-state relations for political expediency, because we’ve seen and continue to see the extent to which democracies are under threat through various means of foreign interference,” says Bob Rae, Canada’s ambassador to the UN. His statement is being seen as a dig at India. But after getting off the podium, he took a different tone. He said he’s discussed the Nijjar case with his Indian counterparts and that “there is scope for diplomacy”.

As they say, there’s always scope for diplomacy. But Canada’s selective leaks aren’t helping.

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