September 20, 2023
ISLAMABAD – After Canada accused India of involvement in the killing of a separatist Sikh leader on its soil, former foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said on Tuesday it was time for the international community to accept that India had become a “rogue Hindutva terrorist state”.
The separatist leader, 45-year-old Hardeep Singh Nijjar, was shot dead outside a Sikh temple on June 18 in Surrey, a Vancouver suburb with a large Sikh population. Nijjar supported a Sikh homeland in the form of an independent Khalistani state and was designated by India as a “terrorist” in July 2020.
Subsequently, Canada said on Monday that it was “actively pursuing credible allegations” linking Indian government agents to the murder of the Sikh separatist leader.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in an emergency statement to the House of Commons that any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen was “an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty”.
Ottawa also expelled India’s top intelligence agent and accused it of a role in the murder of a Sikh separatist leader.
In response, India said today it had expelled a Canadian diplomat with five days’ notice to leave the country.
Earlier, New Delhi also dismissed the Canadian accusation as “absurd and motivated” and urged it instead to take legal action against anti-Indian elements operating from its soil.
Speaking to the media in Lahore today, PPP Chairman and ex-foreign minister Bilawal said the interim Foreign Office should take notice of the episode and issue a “clear” statement.
Canada had levelled a “big allegation” against India, he noted, adding that India had been “exposed before the world”.
He further stated: “Till when the international community, particularly our friends in the West, will continue to ignore such events involving India. It is time for the international community to accept that India has become a rogue Hindutva terrorist state.
“They have not only conducted terrorism in [occupied] Kashmir, not only we in Pakistan have caught their spies involved in terrorism in our country, but they have now been caught violating the sovereignty of a Nato-member state.
“This is not only a violation of Canadian sovereignty. This is [also] a violation of international law and international norms. And the PPP calls — but Pakistan should call on the international community to stand with the people of Canada and highlight the atrocities of the religio-fascist state that is today’s India.”
View this post on Instagram
This is not the first instance of Bilawal using strong words of criticism for the Indian leadership.
In December last year, while Bilawal was the foreign minister, he had called the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi “the butcher of Gujarat” — a reference to 2002 Gujarat riots.
He had made these statements while addressing the media at a UN briefing room in New York, minutes after his Indian counterpart accused Pakistan of perpetuating terrorism and sheltering Osama bin Laden.
In May this year, he became the first foreign minister from Pakistan to visit India in over a decade, to attend a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Conference in Goa.
Upon his return, he said he had succeeded in “countering the false narrative” of Narendra Modi’s government that every Muslim was a terror suspect and exposing Delhi’s history of defiance of bilateral and international agreements.
While in Goa, Bilawal and his Indian counterpart had also posed for a protocol picture but didn’t shake hands. Meanwhile, there was shrill Indian media commentary about why there should not be talks and why the two shouldn’t even shake hands.
The two foreign ministers also seemed to be engaged in a blame game during the SCO meeting, raising issues such as terrorism and Kashmir.
PPP’s reservations over level-playing field pertain to PML-N: Bilawal
Regarding the delay in polls, Bilawal said that the authority to announce the election date rested solely with the Election Commission of Pakistan and underscored that the PPP’s reservations regarding a level-playing field primarily pertain to a specific political party, the PML-N.
PPP chairman said the party’s CEC has unanimously made a demand that the election schedule including poll date should be given to the party.
“We have also empowered Zardari to address these concerns regarding a level-playing field, so it is not appropriate for me to raise this objection repeatedly.”
According to Bilawal, the authority to announce election dates does not rest with the establishment but exclusively with the Election Commission of Pakistan.
He remarked, “It is unfair to decline budgeted development schemes in Sindh, while schemes allowing judges to buy plots in Punjab without an interest rate are being launched.”
He added, “The rule must be similar for all provinces.”
Regarding the anticipated return of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Bilawal expressed that the PPP had long advocated for the elder Sharif’s comeback to the country and welcomed his decision in this regard.
“We are also ready to present our cases [before courts] and we hope Mian Nawaz Sharif will also do the same,” he replied to the query.
View this post on Instagram