DC Edit | India must clear air with US
The case of an alleged plot to assassinate Khalistani sympathiser and dual US-Canadian citizen Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in New York has presented India with its biggest diplomatic challenge in the wake of its vastly improved relations with the US.
Having displayed indignation at a similar charge made about a possible Indian hand in the June killing of Khalistani Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia in Canada, India’s response to reports that the US had thwarted a plot to eliminate Pannun was very subdued.
If not deferential, India’s measured reply — “The US side shared some inputs pertaining to nexus between organised criminals, gun runners, terrorists and others… and they (India) decided to take necessary follow-up action” — showed that it cannot and will not risk damaging ties with the US as it had with Canada.
The Canadian charge of extrajudicial killing was blatantly conveyed with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau airing the charge in the Canadian Parliament first. Mr Trudeau did not go on to substantiate the charge with tangible proof and India could assume its harsh retaliatory action regarding Canadian diplomats in India had not done too much damage to its ties with the US.
No country would accept that it uses targeted killings as an instrument of state policy though history is known to be pockmarked with dark deeds done in the shadowy world of espionage, involving spies, agents, operatives and paid assassins.
Truth to tell, the world’s most powerful nations, including democracies, may have used assassination plots to get rid of inconvenient “enemies” on foreign soil but such “Dark Ops” are never carried out without “plausible deniability”.
It is not improbable that India may have acted, at least indirectly, in neighbouring countries regarding taking on “enemies”, but never has it been known to attempt gangland type of killings in faraway places like North America, charges over which are cropping up now.
How official India clears the air privately with their counterparts in the US may define how much closer India gets to the US at a time when it is being actively wooed by the West as a counterweight to balance China’s aggressive posturing in world affairs.