What do the latest diplomatic challenges with Canada mean for India?text_fields
New Delhi: Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau's announcement of the high hand play by the Indian agents in the killing of pro-Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen, has led to unprecedented diplomatic challenges for India considering Canada’s strategic ties with global leaders, like being a member of the Five Eyes Alliance.
While the presence of Khalistani groups in Canada has been an issue between the two countries since the 1980s, the latest issue holds significant implications for India on multiple fronts.
Canada hosts one of the world's largest Indian diasporas, with over 16 lakh people of Indian origin, comprising 3% of the Canadian population. In 2022, India became the top source of foreign students in Canada, totalling 2.3 lakh. The two countries share significant economic ties, with a trade volume of US $11.68 billion in 2021-22.
Canada supplies nearly 30% of India's pulse imports, a crucial agricultural commodity. Canadian pension funds have invested around US $55 billion in India, and cumulative FDI from Canada since 2000 is approximately US $4.07 billion.
Prime Minister Trudeau has called on India to cooperate in the investigation related to Nijjar's killing. As of now, the Indian government has not responded to this request, indicating its reluctance to engage at this stage. Furthermore, Canada has yet to share any concrete evidence supporting its allegations, suggesting it will do so "in due course."
Complicating matters is Canada's membership in the Five Eyes Alliance, an intelligence-sharing coalition that includes the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. Trudeau has already communicated with US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, both Five Eyes partners, about the situation. All these countries are essential strategic partners for India as well.
These nations have also experienced the presence of pro-Khalistan groups on their soil, at times engaging in activities like vandalizing Indian embassies and inciting violence against Indian diplomats. While their responses to Trudeau's allegations have been measured thus far, they face a delicate balancing act as they aim to avoid straining ties with India while addressing their Canadian ally's concerns.
South Block sources suggest that the response of these strategic partners will hinge on the quality of evidence presented to them, potentially shared with India. The upcoming engagements in New York, including Trudeau's visit and meetings between Foreign Minister Melanie Joly and her G7 counterparts during the United Nations General Assembly, will be closely watched for further developments.
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar's presence in New York may provide an opportunity for both sides to gauge global responses to these allegations. Moreover, Canada's opposition leader, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, has called on Trudeau to release more information regarding the basis of his allegations.
In a bid to clarify his stance, Trudeau later emphasized that Canada is not seeking to provoke India but is keen on addressing the issue appropriately. He underscored the far-reaching consequences of the case in international law, urging the Indian government to treat the matter with the utmost seriousness.