Canada’s allegations that there is evidence Indian government agents may have behind the a*sa*sination of a Sikh leader on Canadian soil have put the United States in what experts say is a “difficult” standoff while as they seek to deepen their economic ties with the South Asian superpower.
The Biden administration has said little publicly about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s stunning announcement Monday that “credible intelligence” suggests a link between the Indian government and the June k*****g of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen and supporter of the Khalistan movement which is pushing for the creation of a separate Sikh state.
Indeed, the United States does not want to strain its own relations with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as it pursues its Indo-Pacific strategy to counter the rise of China and forge new trade and diplomatic ties in the region – a strategy that depends heavily on India. .
“This puts the United States in a very difficult situation,” said Jonathan Miller, senior fellow and director of foreign affairs at the Macdonald Laurier Institute.
“I don’t imagine the Americans will take too radical action on this issue…until there is very, very definitive evidence.”
Trudeau’s announcement in the House of Commons sparked fierce condemnation from Canadian politicians and expulsions from diplomats from Canada and India, who fiercely denied the allegation as “absurd and motivated.”
But the White House was careful to note that the investigation into Nijjar’s k*****g has yet to be resolved in comments urging India to cooperate – all without condemning the alleged link.
“We are deeply concerned by the allegations raised by Prime Minister Trudeau,” White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement.
“We remain in regular contact with our Canadian partners. It is essential that Canada’s investigation continues and that the perpetrators are brought to justice,” the statement said.
Speaking to PKBNEWS on Tuesday, NSC strategic communications coordinator John Kirby would not say whether the United States had corroborated the intelligence and let Canada take the lead. He also would not answer questions about what repercussions Modi and his government might face if the allegations prove true.
“Let’s not rush to where we are,” he said.
Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly told reporters in Ottawa on Monday that Trudeau raised the allegations with U.S. President Joe Biden at the G20 summit in New Delhi earlier this month. Joly said she intended to discuss the issue further with her allies at the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Canada’s Five Eyes allies, including the United States, had rejected private requests to publicly condemn the k*****g and India’s alleged involvement.
A senior Canadian government official, speaking to PKBNEWS in context, called the report “absolutely false.”
“We will continue to keep our allies, including at the official level, informed of relevant information as Canadian security agencies work quickly to get to the bottom of the matter,” said Emily Williams, a spokesperson for Joly’s office. , in a separate press release.
A senior Biden administration official also told PKBNEWS he was “unaware of a Canadian request to publicly condemn the k*****g which we refused and would strongly oppose.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.
“This is going to be a very tricky tightrope walk for the United States,” said Vina Nadjibulla, a senior fellow at the Canadian Institute of Global Affairs and an a*sistant professor of foreign policy at the University of British Columbia.
She juxtaposed the Western response to the allegations against India with the widespread and direct condemnation of China when Nadjibulla’s husband, Michael Kovrig, along with Michael Spavor, were detained for more than 1,000 days in retaliation for the arrest Canadian by Meng Wanzhou.
“It was a very different situation given the Sino-American competition,” she said. “At that point, all of our allies were behind us and very much on our side.
“In this case…these are unprecedented allegations from one leader of a democracy to another. And given India’s importance as a key strategic partner of the United States, the situation could be very different.”
In fashion now
Recent months have seen a wave of diplomatic relations and economic expansion between the United States and India, which has also forced the Biden administration to tiptoe back from accusations of human rights abuses. man brought against the Modi government.
This month’s G20 summit saw Biden and his allies unveil plans to build a rail and maritime corridor linking India to the Middle East and Europe, an ambitious project aimed at fostering economic growth and political cooperation.
During a state visit by Modi to Washington, DC, in June, the two leaders jointly concluded a series of new trade deals, including partnerships in aerospace and semiconductor production. India also joined the Artemis Accords, a plan for space exploration cooperation between countries participating in NASA’s lunar exploration plans.
At the time, Biden called the US-India partnership “among the most important in the world” – a partnership “stronger, closer and more dynamic than at any time in history”.
But the trip also saw Modi field journalists’ questions about criticism that his government has overseen an erosion of religious, political and press freedoms in India, including an increase in violence against Muslims from Hindu nationalists . Legislation that aims to fast-track citizenship for migrants also excludes Muslims.
Biden emphasized democratic freedoms during the two leaders’ meetings in Washington, but a small group of Democratic lawmakers boycotted Modi’s speech to Congress over his human rights record.
Biden and Modi also had differences over Russia’s war in Ukraine. India abstained from voting on UN resolutions condemning Russia and refused to join the global coalition opposing the war. Since the start of the war, the Modi government has also significantly increased its purchases of Russian oil.
Despite these concerns, India remains a key part of the United States’ Indo-Pacific strategy because of its economic power and its ability to provide alternative trade gateways that could weaken China’s dominance in the region.
India is also part of the Quad, a strategic security dialogue with the United States, Australia and Japan that also aims to counter China.
Miller says the West hopes India will remain a partner in its opposition to Beijing and fears pushing Modi’s government too hard on human rights and foreign interference because of it.
“India wants to push China for its own purposes wherever it wants,” he said.
“Not having India as a partner, even if it’s not an adversary, would be incredibly detrimental” to the West’s ambitions across the Indo-Pacific, he added.
— with files from Reggie Cecchini