ISLAMABAD - Pakistan has a big chance to expose India as a global terrorist amid the India-Canada row over the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the Sikh leader, in Canada. This comes after decades of New Delhi’s allegations against Islamabad of allegedly sponsoring terrorism only for the reason that Pakistan demanded the right of self-determination for the Kahsmiris.
Tension between Canada and India threatens to further strain their already fraying relations. Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, asserted that his government was actively investigating credible allegations linking Indian agents to the assassination of a Sikh separatist leader. This dispute has implications not only for diplomatic ties but also for trade relations, as discussions on a proposed trade deal were put on hold last week.
The root of this tension lies in calls for a separate Sikh homeland in India, known as Khalistan. These calls have gained momentum recently, especially in the Sikh diaspora, with some advocating for independence. However, it is important to note that this movement is not the majority position in modern Punjab’s politics.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar was a Canadian citizen with ties to the Khalistan Tiger Force, a group advocating for an independent Khalistan. India had designated him as a terrorist in 2020, although his supporters contested these allegations.
In the backdrop of these diplomatic tensions, India has been pressuring countries with significant Sikh populations, such as Canada, Australia, and the UK, to address what it terms as “Sikh extremism.”
This has led to strains in diplomatic relations, with Canada receiving criticism from India for not doing enough to oppose the pro-Khalistan movement, despite Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s commitment to ending violence while resisting foreign interference.
The row has provided Pakistan with a chance to prove its allegations against India. Pakistan already has been raising voice against Indian sponsored terrorism in various parts of the country. Western countries believe the allegations are result of the tensions between the two nuclear armed neighbours. The tension with Canada however, proves why Pakistan has been speaking so much about the Indian hand in terrorism. This will also support Pakistan’s evidence against India.
Foreign Secretary Syrus Qazi said Pakistan was not surprised aback by Canada’s allegations concerning the involvement of the Indian government in the murder of Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia this year, which occurred in June.
He pointed out that Pakistan had previously arrested Kulbhushan Yadav, an Indian naval officer and operative of the Indian Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), in Balochistan back in March 2016. According to Qazi, this situation highlights India’s role in destabilizing Pakistan.
Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch also called India a global terrorist, actively involved in spooning terrorism. The issue has been raised by Pakistan at various forums but more needs to be done to make Pakistan’s case strong. India has never let go such opportunities and Pakistan should be able to hit a home run with proper diplomatic efforts.