Why are India's Responses to US and Canada in Nijjar vs Pannun Episodes Different


06:51 PM

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Why are India's Responses to US and Canada in Nijjar vs Pannun Episodes Different Blog Image

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • Why in News?
  • India's Responses to Canada in Nijjar Episode
  • India's Responses to US in Pannun Episode
  • Analysing the Two Matters

Why in News?

  • Within hours of a report that the US thwarted a conspiracy to assassinate Khalistan separatist on American soil, Delhi said it takes such inputs seriously and these are already being examined by relevant departments.
  • This Indian response is very different from the manner in which it responded to Canadian PM’s credible allegations about a potential link of Indian govt agents to the killing of Canada-based Khalistan separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

India's Responses to Canada in Nijjar Episode

  • Earlier (in Sept 2013), there was an angry Indian response to the Canadian PM’s remarks with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) calling the allegations “absurd and motivated”.
  • The MEA described Canada as a “safe haven” for “terrorists, extremists and organised crime” - its sharpest words for a Western country in recent years, a language usually used for Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • After Canada expelled an Indian diplomat posted in Ottawa, Delhi expelled a Canadian diplomat based in New Delhi.
    • India also forced Canada to withdraw 41 of its diplomats from its High Commission in New Delhi.
  • India then issued a travel advisory for Indian nationals travelling to Canada and cautioned students, professionals and tourists.
  • It suspended visa services in Canada and also stopped e-visa services (which were resumed recently).

India's Responses to US in Pannun Episode

  • In contrast, consider India's reaction to the Financial Times story about Pannun and the US's warning to the country over possible involvement in the plot.
  • Within hours, spokesperson for MEA said it takes such inputs “seriously” and these are “already being examined” by relevant departments.
  • During the course of recent discussions on India-US security cooperation, the US side shared some inputs pertaining to the nexus between organised criminals, gun-runners, terrorists and others.
    • The inputs are a cause of concern for both countries and they decided to take necessary follow-up action.
    • On its part, India takes such inputs seriously since it impinges on its national security interests.

Analysing the Two Matters

  • Nature of the revelations:
    • In Canada’s case, a person was killed and a murder investigation was ongoing. In the US case, the target of the alleged assassination plot was unharmed.
    • The nature of the offence in the two cases were, therefore, different.
  • Response of the Canadian and the US govts:
    • The Canadian PM pointed fingers at the Indian government, while in the US case, it has not yet been directly linked to the Indian government.
    • The US administration did not deny the allegations in the FT report and said that they are treating this issue with utmost seriousness, and has raised it with the Indian Government.
  • The nature of India’s response: In Canada’s case, Delhi rejected the allegations and refused to cooperate. But in the US case, the Indian response was of cooperation.
  • Why is the nature of India’s response different?
    • While the India-Canada ties are mostly economic and people-to-people, the Indo-US ties have much more depth and breadth.
    • From strategy to defence, space to technology, economic to people-to-people, the ties with the US are much deeper and India has much more at stake.
    • This is the most strategically aligned partnership for India’s interests - politically and economically, and Delhi cannot afford to have a dismissive attitude towards US concerns.
  • What lies ahead?
    • The outcome of the investigations in both the US and India on this will determine the course of the ties.
    • From past experiences (Devyani Khobragade affair in 2013-14), Washington and Delhi have learnt bitter lessons, when both sides had suffered dip in ties.
    • While this will be a test of the durability of the strength of their ties, officials in both Washington and Delhi will show the diplomatic maturity to deal with this new crisis.

Q1) How India-Canada relations evolved in recent years?

While Canada and India have a broad-based relationship (bilateral trade reaching $8.16 billion in 2023), their ties have often been strained by Sikh separatists involved with the Khalistan Movement, calling for an independent Sikh state in India.

Q2) What are the foundational agreements between India and the US?

India and the US have 4 foundational defence agreements - Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geospatial Intelligence (BECA); General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA); Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) and the Logistic Support Agreement (LSA).

Source: Nijjar vs Pannun: India’s responses to US and Canada, why they are different