No Widgets found in the Sidebar

Lt. Col. (R) Azfar Bilal Qureshi

The bombshell revelation in the House of Commons by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of the Indian government’s involvement in the brutal killing of Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar on Canadian soil has sent shockwaves through the international community, which has woken up people from their slumber to the reality of India’s emergence as a state sponsor of terrorism.

He called it an “unacceptable violation” of Canada’s “sovereignty” and “contrary to fundamental rules by which free, open and democratic societies conduct themselves”. He told the media that the “case had far-reaching consequences in international law”. Trudeau has called upon India to cooperate in the murder probe. According to media reports quoting Canadian government officials, allegations of Indian government’s involvement in the assassination were based on surveillance of Indian diplomats in Canada and inputs provided by one of the members of the Five Eyes, an intelligence-sharing alliance comprising of the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

The US position on the allegations has quickly evolved from a cautious initial response to all-out support for Canada, a neighbouring country and fellow NATO member state. The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called on India to cooperate with Canada and ensure “accountability” over the killing of Nijjar.

Blinken has emphasized that the US was “in touch with both India, with which it has warming ties, and Canada, a close ally, after the two countries engaged in tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions”. He has stressed that the US took “very, very seriously” incidents of “transnational repression”.

The US National Security adviser has underscored that the US would stand up for its principles and not give India any “special exemption” on the serious allegations of involvement in the murder of Nijjar in Canada. According to Director of the South Asia Institute at the Washington DC-based Wilson Centre Michael Kugelman, it is rare for the US to make such remarks.

The US Ambassador to Canada has indicated to CTV News that intelligence from Five Eyes led Canada to link India to the killing of Nijjar. Canadian Ambassador to the UN in New York Bob Rae told CBC News several weeks before going public that Canada had shared its deep concern and reliable information about the killing with the Indian government as part of the ‘quiet diplomacy process’. Prime Minister Trudeau had also raised the issue personally with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi “in no uncertain terms” on the sidelines of the recent G20 Summit held in New Delhi. Pakistan’s reaction to Canadian revelation about Indian state-sponsored assassination on its soil has been forthright and expressed at various levels.

During a press conference in New York on September 22, 2023, Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar called for the formation of an international alliance to keep in check the “rough behaviour” of India. He termed the assassination a first-of-its-kind event after World War I, triggered by the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914. He also underscored that Pakistan had been a victim of Indian state-sponsored terrorism and shared evidence at different global and multilateral forums.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson stressed that the news of Indian involvement in the killing in Canada had demonstrated that India’s “network of extraterritorial killings had now gone global”. Commenting on Canada’s shocking revelations about the assassination, former Foreign Minister of Pakistan Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that Pakistan has caught many Indian “spies involved in terrorism in our country, but they have now been caught violating the sovereignty of a NATO member state”.

Nijjar was the latest addition to the list of Sikhs who have been eliminated in Indian-sponsored targeted killings in recent years:

1.   Ripudaman Singh Malik was assassinated in July 2022 in the same Canadian community of Surrey, British Columbia.

2.   Paramjit Singh Panjwar was shot dead on May 6, 2023 in Lahore, Pakistan.

3.   Avtar Singh Khanda died in Birmingham (UK) on June 15, 2023 under mysterious circumstances. Khanda is believed to have been poisoned. However, West Midlands Police told BBC that they were not opening an investigation.

Indian state-sponsored terrorist and espionage activities are nothing new. Over the years, several Indians, including serving and retired military personnel involved in espionage and terrorist activities have been caught in different countries. In 2019, a German court convicted an Indian couple living in Germany of spying for India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

In March 2016, Pakistani authorities arrested Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav, a serving Indian Naval officer working for RAW, for fomenting terrorism. He was operating under a Muslim name (Hussain Mubarek Patel). In August 2022, Qatari authorities arrested eight former Indian naval officers spying for Israel on Qatar’s secret submarine programme. In 2014, the UAE arrested and later convicted two Indian nationals for providing sensitive information about the UAE to Indian intelligence.

The revelation about India’s involvement in the murder of Nijjar made at the highest political level in the Canadian parliament is a damning report against the Indian government and has established India’s credentials as a state sponsor of terrorism beyond a shadow of a doubt.

It has also exposed India’s global assassination and espionage network being run by India’s spy agency, RAW. No wonder Canada expelled a senior Indian diplomat after Prime Minister Trudeau’s statement revealed the diplomat was an undercover RAW station chief in Canada.

This affirms RAW’s role as the international hit quad of India that it has assumed over the years, especially under the extremist BJP government led by Modi.

The brazen assassination of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil has exposed India as a state sponsor of international terrorism. The international community’s failure to condemn India for its international terrorist activities in the past for geopolitical considerations has emboldened New Delhi to expand its terrorist network from South Asia to Europe and North America.

Taking appropriate measures against India is therefore imperative. India needs to be reined in and not be allowed to threaten international peace and security further.

Lt Col (R) Azfar Bilal Qureshi, TI(M), is a Defence Analyst currently working as Associate Director Research at Center for International Strategic Studies Sindh.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.