UNITED NATIONS, Sep 27 (APP): With India on the back foot following Canada’s allegations about its involvement in the killing of a Sikh leader, Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar Tuesday urged UN member states not to allow “political convenience” to determine responses to terrorism, extremism and violence.
But Jaishankar made no direct reference to the diplomatic standoff with Canada in his speech to the 78th session of UN General Assembly as he tried to shift the focus to India’s achievements, including chairing of the Group of 20 industrialized nations, its leadership role in international affairs, as also the moon landing.
“When we aspire to be a leading power, this is not for self-aggrandizement, but to take on greater responsibility and make more contributions,” he said. “The goals we have set for ourselves will make us different from all those whose rise preceded ours.”
On September 18, Canada said on Monday that it was “actively pursuing credible allegations” linking Indian government agents to the murder of a Sikh separatist leader in British Columbia in June, dealing a further blow to diplomatic ties between the countries.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in an emergency statement to the House of Commons that any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen was “an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty”.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar, 45, was shot dead outside a Sikh temple on June 18 in Surrey, a Vancouver suburb with a large Sikh population. Nijjar supported a Sikh homeland in the form of an independent Khalistani state and was designated by India as a “terrorist” in July 2020.
“Canadian security agencies have been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the government of India” and Nijjar’s death, Trudeau said.
On its part, Pakistan has said it was not “surprised” by Canada’s revelations that the Indian government was involved in the trans-border murder of the pro-Khalistan leader, linking the episode to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ideology of Hindu nationalism, or Hindutva.
Ties between the two countries have plunged to their lowest point in years after Canada’s allegations and India’s denials and counter-allegations that Ottawa for years has given free rein to Sikh separatists, including Nijjar.
India usually makes veiled references to other countries — in fact, it has a habit at the U.N. of not directly targeting its criticism
In this context, Jaishankar said that the world must not “countenance that political convenience determines responses to terrorism, extremism and violence.”
Observers were watching to see whether Jaishankar would take direct aim at Canada, but doing so on a global platform could have widened a rift that already has dominated headlines internationally. Experts have said India wouldn’t like to draw more attention to the dispute with Canada at a forum such as the U.N., preferring instead to treat it as an issue just between the two countries involved.
Opening his speech with “Namaaste from Bharat”, Jaishankar said, “we often advocate the promotion of a rules-based order. From time to time, respect for the UN Charter is also invoked.”
“But for all the talk, there are still a few nations who shape the agenda and seek to define the norms. This cannot go on indefinitely. Nor will it go unchallenged.”