“Not India’s policy” External Affairs Minister says about killing of separatist leader in Canada

S. Jaishankar participating in a conversation with Kenneth Juster at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on September 26, 2023. PHOTO: T. Vishnudatta Jayaraman, News India Times

New York: Distancing from recent allegations made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau linking India in the killing of the Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada, India’s Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar asserted, “This is not the Government of India’s policy” noting India has already urged Canada to share pertinent information and that India would examine it.

“One, we told the Canadians that this is not the Government of India’s policy. And two, we told the Canadians saying that, look if you have something specific, if you have something relevant, let us know. We are open to looking at it” Jaishankar said while participating in a conversation with Distinguished Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), and former US Ambassador to India, Kenneth Juster, on September 26, 2023.

To comprehend this situation properly, Jaishankar said it’s important to consider the broader context since the whole picture lacks completeness without it. Over recent years, he said, Canada has witnessed a significant increase in organized crime activities, particularly linked to secessionist forces involving violence and extremism.

He went on to say “We have actually been badgering the Canadians. We have given them lots of information about organized crime leadership, which operates out of Canada. There are a large number of extradition requests, there are terrorist leaders who have been identified. So, do understand that there is an environment out there.”

Regarding the evolving situation in Canada, Jaishankar said, “We have a situation where actually our diplomats are threatened. Our consulates have been attacked…”

Asked if the Government of India will cooperate if specific evidence is provided, Jaishankar said, “If somebody gives me something specific, it doesn’t have to be restricted to Canada. But if there’s any incident which, is an issue and somebody gives me something specific as a Government, I would look at it. Of course, I would look at it.”

Jaishankar also answered questions on India’s relations with US, Russia, and China.

On India-US relations and the role both countries could play in advancing their mutual interests, he said, “There’s a recognition that this has enormous possibilities” adding in the current context “Convergences today far, far outweigh the divergences.”

In the last five years, he emphasized, the security, political, and economic relationships have changed, noting that during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent state visit, important technology agreements were signed. Plus, he pointed to the “human linkages between our societies” which he said, are strengthening.

He said there was “nothing wrong” with United States “Actively seeking to shape” relations around the world that could be beneficial to its interests.

“We’ve already entered that world, where the United States is no longer in a way saying okay, I basically work only with my allies.”

“And the Quad itself is a demonstration of the fact that you have a country like India, which is not an allied country, that the other two partners are treaty-based allies that in fact, I think you should credit US policymakers with that imagination and with that forward planning…”

During the G20 Leaders’ Summit it was clear there are “Contradictions” stemming from East-West polarization largely due to the Russia-Ukraine war, and the North-South divide due to the COVID-19 pandemic while stressing “I would say we are one of the few countries to have that ability to actually bridge both these issues.”

As such, he highlighted India’s collaboration through its membership with many regional organizations in the last decade such as the Quad, I2U2, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and the recent India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor. He also talked about India’s initiatives such as the International Solar Alliance, and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.

About Russia-China’s joint statement in 2022, about their “Traditional alliance” and their relationship “Has no limits” and their impact on New Delhi and Moscow’s relations, Jaishankar said since the Russia-Ukraine war in 2022, Russia’s relationship with “Europe and the West has been severely disrupted.”

“Russia is actually turning to Asia and to other parts of the world, but primarily to Asia because that’s where a lot of economic activity is and it is also an Asian power…” he noted adding he anticipates that Russia will make significant efforts to establish alternative relationships that will manifest in way of agreements in trade and other areas.

“Our own relationship with Russia has been extremely steady, since the mid 50s… the India-Russia relationship has actually held very, very steady…” he said. “And part of it is that I think there is an understanding in both countries that as big powers in the Asian continent there’s a kind of a structural basis for having to get along, wanting to get along. And so, we take great care to make sure the relationship is working.”

Regarding the relationship between New Delhi and Beijing, Jaishankar mentioned that since June 2020, where 20 Indian soldiers lost their lives in a border clash due to China’s “Violation of agreements” the relationship has deteriorated. “So, if you look at the last three years, it’s a very abnormal state. The contacts have been disrupted, visits are not taking place, we have of course, this high level of military tension, it has also impacted the perception of China in India.”

President of CFR, Ambassador Michael Froman, delivered introductory remarks at the event.



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