The Guardian view on Canada and India: from partnership to public claims of a killing

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Whatever the truth about the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the row shows that building relationships with New Delhi won’t be easyTue 19 Sep 2023 14.14 EDT

Canada made waves when it recently announced an inquiry into potential foreign election interference. Its tanking relations with China have been watch closely, not least for how they reflect upon other western countries’ dealings with Beijing. Russia’s activities were also under scrutiny. Fewer people noticed that ministers also cited the potential role of the Indian government.

The decision looks like a ripple in a millpond following Justin Trudeau’s extraordinary statement that Canada is pursuing “credible allegations” of a potential link between New Delhi and the murder of a Canadian national, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, in British Columbia this June. Nijjar had campaign for an independent Sikh nation – know as Khalistan – to be create from Punjab state. Indian authorities had accused him of terrorism, and issued a bounty for his arrest. Canada’s spy agency had reportedly warned him of threats. buy pain pills online overnight delivery

India has angrily rejected Mr Trudeau’s claim as “absurd” and expelled a Canadian diplomat in retaliation for the expulsion of a diplomat Ottawa described as the head of the Indian intelligence agency in Canada. Assassinations on foreign soil are relatively rare; carrying one out in a supposedly friendly country, and a G7 member, would be truly astonishing and risky.

This is the kind of activity associated with Moscow,

not New Delhi. That is why the impact of the allegations will not be limited to bilateral ties. The Canadian prime minister referred to working closely with allies on the issue. As China has grown more forceful and hostile, the anglophone “Five Eyes” intelligence sharing group (Canada, the US, the UK, Australia and New Zealand) have grown closer and have increasingly seen India as a necessary counterweight and alternative economic partner. Earlier this year, Ottawa and New Delhi had planned to draw up the framework for a trade deal by the end of 2023. That’s fallen by the wayside; the UK is still pushing ahead.

For some, the pursuit of better relations with India has been a matter of wishful thinking. Just as some in the west once convinced themselves that China’s economic liberalisation would lead to political reform, ignoring all signs to the contrary, so some have suggested that India is an ideal partner as a democracy – glossing over Narendra Modi’s increasing nationalism and authoritarianism. Others have been more pragmatic, counting on shared interests, such as limiting China’s increasing might, and hoping to limit New Delhi’s longstanding relationship with Moscow; it has remained neutral on the invasion of Ukraine. buy pain pills online overnight delivery

Mr Trudeau has said that he raised this case

“personally and directly” with Mr Modi, and “in no uncertain terms”. That helps to explain their frosty encounters at the G20, when, Mr Modi’s office said, the Indian prime minister rebuked his counterpart for tolerating extremism within Canada’s large Sikh community – a longstanding complaint.

But Mr Trudeau’s remarks also suggest that raising this bluntly and publicly was not his first choice. Relating the killing to “agents of the government of India” may reflect a tangled, indirect chain of responsibility, but also stopped short of suggesting that an order came from the top. He has continued to urge cooperation. New Delhi’s unwillingness to respond in like manner is bad news for its reputation beyond Canada’s borders, and suggests that, regardless of who killed Nijjar, India is on a trajectory that makes partnership with western democracies much more difficult.


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