U.S. involvement in Canada’s allegation against India strains diplomatic relations

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Hardeep Singh Nijjar

24th September 2023 – (Ottawa) Tensions between India and Canada have escalated as recent leaks suggest that the United States played a crucial role in supporting Canada’s claim that India was responsible for the assassination of a Canadian citizen. The allegations have strained diplomatic relations between New Delhi and Ottawa.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s repeated accusations that Indian agents were behind the killing of Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar on Canadian soil were met with strong denial from the Indian side. In response, both countries have begun expelling each other’s diplomats and issuing travel advisories cautioning their citizens about travel to the other nation.

An interview with U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Cohen, released by Canadian CTV News network on Sunday, revealed that there was shared intelligence among the “Five Eyes” partners that contributed to Canada’s claims. The “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance consists of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

The New York Times, citing “Western allied officials,” took it a step further in a Saturday report, stating that U.S. intelligence agencies provided context to Canadian counterparts that helped Canada reach its conclusion about India’s involvement.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed hope that India would cooperate with Canada in the investigation and emphasized the need for accountability from the Indian side. Previously, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan warned that the United States would not grant India any “special exemption” in this matter.

The U.S. stance in the diplomatic dispute has drawn criticism from Indians, who see it as biased and reflective of double standards. An editorial in The Tribune, an Indian daily newspaper, called out the United States, questioning its moral authority to grant such exemptions given its own history of foreign interventions.

Analysts predict that the strained relations between India and the United States will have a significant impact on their partnership. Derek J. Grossman, a political analyst at the RAND Corporation, stated on social media that Canada’s accusation against India could be the most significant test of strength for the U.S.-India partnership since the early 2000s.