In his first remarks on the row over Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s allegation of a potential Indian link to the killing of Khalistan separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said Wednesday that the government had told Ottawa that “this is not the Government of India’s policy”.
Responding to a question on the Canadian allegation during an interaction at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Jaishankar said, “Yes, I do have a comment. I will share with you very frankly what we told the Canadians. One, we told the Canadians that this is not the Government of India’s policy. Two, we told the Canadians that look, if you have something specific, if you have something relevant, let us know. We are open to looking at it.”
A day earlier, speaking at United Nations General Assembly, Jaishankar said “political convenience” should not be allowed to determine a country’s response to “terrorism, extremism and violence” — remarks construed as a veiled message to Canada and its Prime Minister.
Targeting “rule-makers”, Jaishankar said that “respect for territorial integrity and non-interference in internal affairs cannot be exercises in cherry-picking” – a reference to Trudeau’s statement that any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil was an “unacceptable violation of our sovereignty”.
While Jaishankar’s comments have also been perceived as directed at Pakistan and China, the reference to “rule-makers” points to Canada which is part of the G7 grouping and exercises influence because of its close alliance with the US.
While these were his first remarks on the India-Canada row, he framed it in the context of a global rules-based order. He also underlined that “the days when a few nations set the agenda and expected others to fall in line are over”.
At the CFR interaction, Jaishankar said that one must also understand the context because the “picture is not complete” without the context.