Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that the only solution to the diplomatic crisis between Ottawa and New Delhi is a change in the way the Indian government and its intelligence agencies operate, reported The New York Times.
The India-Canada relations deteriorated to a new low this week after Ottawa alleged that the Indian government may be behind the killing of a Sikh separatist leader on Canadian soil.
Responding to a question about how the situation could be de-escalated, Trudeau told The New York Times that “a series of lessons learned and changes made to the way the Indian government and the intelligence services operate” would help resolve the crisis. He also sought the arrest and conviction of those involved in the alleged crime.
The Canadian prime minister also said that all allies he had spoken to were unequivocal in their support for Canada and maintained that violation of a country’s sovereignty and of the rule of law is absolutely unacceptable.
“I think people are quietly waiting to see how things unfold,” Trudeau told The New York Times. “But standing up for the rule of law is not a momentary thing. It is a process that happens over weeks and months.”
On Monday, Trudeau had told the country’s Parliament that security agencies “have been pursuing credible allegations about the potential link between agents of the government of India and the killing of a Canadian citizen” who supported the creation of a separate state for Sikhs.
His comments pertained to Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the chief of the Khalistan Tiger Force. He had been shot dead in the parking lot of a gurdwara in Surrey near Vancouver on June 18. Nijjar was the head of the Khalistan Tiger Force, which is designated as a terrorist outfit in India.
India quickly dismissed Trudeau’s claims as “motivated” and asked Canada to take legal action against “anti-Indian elements” operating from its soil instead. It also expelled a Canadian diplomat, in a tit-for-tat move after Canada expelled an official of the Indian foreign intelligence service.
Four days later, India indefinitely suspended visa services in Canada citing security threats to its officials. New Delhi also said that Canada needed to look into its growing reputation as a “safe haven” to terrorists, extremists and those involved in organised crime.
Trudeau, however, doubled down on his allegations and urged India to cooperate in the investigation. He had also acknowledged India was a country of “growing importance” and that his government wanted to continue working with New Delhi.
On Friday, he claimed that Canada had shared information about the murder of Nijjar with India “many weeks ago” – a claim denied by New Delhi.
On Saturday, United States Ambassador to Canada David Cohen confirmed that information shared by members of an intelligence-sharing alliance had informed Trudeau of the Indian government’s possible involvement in the killing of Nijjar.
“There was shared intelligence among ‘Five Eyes’ partners that helped lead Canada to [make] the statements that the prime minister made,” Cohen told the news network in an interview.