OTTAWA: Canada disclosed this week that it has intelligence possibly linking Indian government agents to the killing of a Sikh separatist leader, the kind of news that usually sparks an outcry among Democratic allies. Not this time.
India is being courted by the United States and others as a counterweight to China, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s rare attack just days after New Delhi hosted the G20 summit puts Western countries in a position delicate.
“India is important in Western calculations to balance China, and Canada is not,” said Stephanie Carvin, a professor of international relations at Carleton University in Ottawa.
“It really puts Canada out of the picture compared to all the other Western countries,” she said.
Trudeau announced Monday that Canada was “actively pursuing credible allegations” that Indian agents may have been involved in the murder of Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June.
At the time, Ottawa had already discussed the issue with key allies such as the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance, which also includes the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.
So far, the results have been muted. Britain has refused to publicly criticize India and said bilateral trade talks would continue as planned. Indeed, a statement by Foreign Secretary James Cleverly about the affair did not mention India by name.
Britain finds itself in a difficult position, stuck between supporting Canada and opposing India, a country it wants as a trading partner and ally to help it take on China, Chietigj Bajpaee said. India expert at the Chatham House think tank in London.
“In the absence of definitive evidence of India’s involvement, I think the UK’s response is likely to remain muted,” he said. A free trade deal would be a “major political victory” for both India and Britain, Bajpaee said.
White House national security adviser John Kirby said the United States was “deeply concerned” and encouraged Indian officials to cooperate with any investigation. India rejects the idea that she was involved in the murder.
The Washington Post reported that Trudeau pushed for a joint statement condemning India at the Group of 20 summit in New Delhi last week and that the statement was rejected by the United States and others.
Kirby said “any reports that we have pushed back against Canada in any way are false, and we will continue to coordinate and consult with them on this.”
The muted response to Trudeau’s allegations is striking when compared to the outcry that followed the poisoning of Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with a nerve agent in England in 2018. Britain, States -United States, Canada and others expelled more than 100 Russian diplomats for dispatch. punish Moscow for an attack it has always denied having perpetrated.
“Our Five Eyes partners are understandably reluctant to engage in this matter, given everyone’s interest in advancing ties with India, amid ongoing tensions with China,” said the group’s Wesley Wark. reflection Center for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo, Ontario. .
“It’s a bit of a waiting game. If the Canadians present very strong evidence of the blatant involvement of the Indian state in an assassination attempt, I think our allies will support us more,” he said.
With allies reluctant to consider any joint condemnation of India, Canada’s options now appear limited, at least until it can provide compelling evidence.
“If we don’t get the support of our allies, either publicly or privately, there’s little Canada can do to move India,” said Richard Fadden, former head of the Canadian Intelligence Service. of security.
“And I think the biggest thing we can aspire to in the short to medium term is to get India to not do this again,” he told CTV.
Canadian government sources said they would have preferred to wait longer before making a statement, but felt they had to act, given that some national media outlets were close to revealing the story.
Trudeau would never have spoken “out loud if we didn’t have the information in a factual database,” one source said, adding that she hoped more information would be available soon.
Canada has not released the information it has because a murder investigation is underway, the senior source said.
“At the dawn of a global opportunity for India, they absolutely need to handle this responsibly – for the sake of their own interests,” the source said.