India and Canada must stop retaliations, return to the table
Trudeau has crossed a diplomatic line by outing the station chief of the Research and Analysis Wing in Canada and expelling him.
India and Canada need to de-escalate the tension triggered by the killing of pro-Khalistan terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar and the subsequent statement by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accusing India of involvement in the killing. The diplomatic showdown is threatening to spiral out of control. While Trudeau has publicly accused India of killing a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil, India has responded equally strongly by calling Canada a safe haven for terrorists and extremists, accusing it of taking no action against persons who openly threaten the sovereignty and integrity of India.
Trudeau has crossed a diplomatic line by outing the station chief of the Research and Analysis Wing in Canada and expelling him. Blaming a person for organising a killing and then exposing his name puts his life and career in grave danger. By accusing India of extra-judicial killing from the floor of his country’s parliament without backing his statement with evidence, Trudeau has brought disrepute to the world’s largest democracy, which has had an impeccable record of following international conventions and the rule of law. India has claimed that the Canadian prime minister has not shared any information regarding the killing before, during or after his visit to New Delhi for the G20 summit. India, on the other hand, has made several requests to rein in the Sikh extremists who have, in the name of free speech, issued open threats to Indian leaders and called for carving out Khalistan from India. Not much has been done by Trudeau in this regard. India’s outrage is, therefore, justifiable.
Canada must share with India the intelligence inputs it claims to have that purportedly point a finger at India’s involvement in the killing. Rather than indulging in tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats and suspending consular services, the two sides need to sit together and sort out the issues. The countries have long had friendly relations. Canada has been one of the most preferred destinations for Indian immigrants. The number of Indians moving to Canada has grown threefold since 2013. Now Canada has suspended trade talks with India. Trudeau will seek re-election in October next year. There could be pressure to appease Sikhs, who are his loyal voters. But elections should not be won by undermining the country’s interests and targeting longstanding friends.