Diplomatic spat: Canada gets lukewarm response from allies against India

Toronto: A day after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged India's involvement in the killing of a prominent Sikh separatist leader, the Canadian media reported that Ottawa's Five Eye allies were not keen on taking sides though they have said that the claims should be thoroughly probed.

Hardeep Singh Nijjar, 45, the chief of the banned Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF) and one of India's most-wanted terrorists who carried a cash reward of Rs 10 lakh on his head, was shot dead by two unidentified gunmen outside a gurdwara in Surrey in the western Canadian province of British Columbia on June 18.

Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau told the House of Commons on Monday that he waited until he was able to raise the issue with allies and with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G20 summit in New Delhi earlier this month before telling the public about the possible link.

India has dismissed Trudeau's allegation as absurd and baseless.

We wanted to make sure that we had a solid grounding in understanding what was going on in analysis and indeed in facts. We wanted to make sure we were taking the time to talk with our allies, to share what we knew, The Canadian Press news agency quoted Trudeau on Tuesday.

Canada is part of a Five Eyes' network which is an intelligence alliance consisting of the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

Trudeau has also said he does not want to make things worse for relations with India.

“We are not looking to provoke or escalate. We are simply laying out the facts as we understand them, and we want to work with the government of India to lay everything clear.”

According to a report by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Canada's other Five Eyes allies showed little inclination Tuesday to wade into an escalating row between Ottawa and New Delhi over allegations.Most opted to treat the allegation as a matter still to be investigated in spite of the fact that the Trudeau government feels it has enough information to make an accusation in Parliament and expel a diplomat, it noted.

The United States, United Kingdom and Australia have all issued statements calling for the allegations to be thoroughly probed.

Terming the US National Security Council spokesperson Adm Joh Kirby as perhaps the most supportive of Canada, the CBC report quoted him saying on Tuesday: They are certainly serious allegations and we believe in order to determine how credible they are, there needs to be a thorough investigation.
The CBC report also said that Kirby urged India to participate and cooperate in that investigation as it is important to find out exactly what happened.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese refused to comment on the matter at all even as Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong told a press conference in the UN Headquarters on Tuesday that these are concerning reports, and I note that investigations are still underway and that We are monitoring these developments closely with our partners, and we'll continue to do so.

Another of the allies, UK made no official announcement but its Foreign Secretary James Cleverly put out a tweet on platform X without any mention of India, the CBC report said. All countries should respect sovereignty and the rule of law. We are in regular contact with our Canadian partners about serious allegations raised in the Canadian Parliament. Important that Canada's investigation runs its course and the perpetrators brought to justice, read Cleverly's tweet.

On September 18, Trudeau alleged in the Parliament that Canada's national security apparatus has reason to believe that agents of the Indian government had carried out the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil.

While Trudeau is urging India to take the matter seriously, Liberal Party members also say they hope to maintain normal ties with a country Ottawa has selected as a key partner in the Indo-Pacific, The Canadian Press reported.

Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre said Trudeau must share more information about what led him to make the statement in Parliament. He said the prime minister did not share more details with him than what he had said in the House of Commons.

“We need to see more facts. The prime minister hasn't provided any facts,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh has written to the newly appointed head of the public inquiry on foreign interference, asking Justice Marie-Josee Hogue to include India in her probe. The Liberals have suggested her terms are wide enough to include any country as well as the Nijjar case.

“In my experience, as a Sikh-Canadian, there have always been suspicions that India was interfering in the democratic rights of Canadians,” Singh wrote in the letter.

“Yesterday's announcement by the prime minister confirms that these suspicions are valid,” he said.

( Source : PTI )
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