Canada requested its allies to publicly condemn Nijjar's murder but was rebuffed: Report

A spokeswoman for Canada’s foreign minister said the claims were false

trudebidf US President Joe Biden, Canada PM Justin Trudeau | Reuters

Canada had approached its allies, including Washington, seeking their public condemnation of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar's death, but was rebuffed, said reports. 

The issue was privately raised by several senior officials of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing countries in the weeks before September’s G20 summit in New Delhi. However, Ottawa's overtures were rebuffed. 

A report by The Washington Post quoting an unnamed Western official said the countries decided not to mention it publicly ahead of the G20 Summit "which Western leaders viewed as an important coming-out party for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi."

However, a spokeswoman for Canada’s foreign minister said the claims that "Canada asked allies to publicly condemn the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, and were subsequently rebuffed, are false."  

"We will continue to keep our allies, including at the officials level, apprised of relevant information, while Canadian security agencies work fast to get to the bottom of the matter," spokeswoman Emily Williams told The Washington Post.

'Diplomatic tightrope'

Regional analysts too believe Trudeau’s allegations have put the White House in an especially tight spot. "The Biden administration has made extraordinary efforts to double down on the emerging strategic convergence between the United States and India while downplaying any possible divergence on shared values," said Milan Vaishnav, senior fellow and director of the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 

"Now, Washington will need to walk a fine line between ostracising a valued bulwark against Chinese expansionism and embracing the concerns of a major NATO ally," Vaishnav added.

The Biden administration has been working overtime to woo India, in its efforts to counter China. 

According to Michael Kugelman, a South Asia analyst at the Wilson Center, said the dispute poses a dilemma for the Biden administration, which has articulated a "values-based foreign policy that’s meant to emphasize rights and democracy."

"The U.S. needs to walk a diplomatic tightrope in that Canada is an ally and neighbour while India is a key strategic partner," Kugelman said. "There will be pressure on Washington to weigh in in support of Canada, but at the same time it values, in a big way, its relationship with India," he told The Washington Post. 

Kugelman added that in many Western capitals, there was this "multi-partisan consensus that India is a key strategic player and partner."

"Canada’s allies want to express a sense of solidarity with Canada but are reluctant to go farther by, for example, calling on India to respond. I think that Washington and London and other key capitals know that the Indian government is very sensitive to any type of external criticism directed at India’s domestic affairs and domestic policies, even if that criticism is coming from close partners," he said.

"That’s not to say that there won’t be behind the scenes, backchannel diplomacy," Kugelman noted.


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