India calls Trudeau’s bluff

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India calls Trudeau’s bluff

Wednesday, 27 September 2023 | PTI | United Nations

India calls Trudeau’s bluff

India on Tuesday asked the UN member states not to allow “political convenience” to determine responses to terrorism, extremism and violence, in a veiled attack on Canada amid the diplomatic standoff over the killing of a Khalistani separatist.

Addressing the 78th UN General Assembly session here, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar also said respect for territorial integrity and non-interference in internal affairs cannot be “exercises in cherry picking” as he asserted that the days when a few nations set the agenda and expected others to fall in line are over.

“We must never again allow an injustice like vaccine apartheid to recur. Climate action too cannot continue to witness an evasion of historical responsibilities. The power of markets should not be utilised to steer food and energy from the needy to the wealthy.

“Nor must we countenance that political convenience determines responses to terrorism, extremism and violence. Similarly, respect for territorial integrity and non-interference in internal affairs cannot be exercises in cherry picking,” the Minister said, in an apparent reference to the US, which reportedly provided Canada with intelligence after the killing of Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

Jaishankar’s remarks on the “political convenience” appears to be directed at Canada whose Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently alleged “potential” involvement of Indian agents in the killing of a Khalistani extremist on his country’s soil on June 18 in British Columbia, a charge angrily rejected by New Delhi as “absurd” and “motivated”.

“They (Canadians) have made the allegations, they have taken action on them. To us, it seems or it appears that these allegations by the government of Canada are primarily politically driven,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said last week.

Canada has a Sikh population of more than 7,70,000 (about 2 per cent of its total population) and are considered a crucial voting bloc.

“In our deliberations, we often advocate the promotion of a rules-based order. From time to time, respect for the UN Charter is also invoked. But for all the talk, it is still a few nations who shape the agenda and seek to define the norms. This cannot go on indefinitely. Nor will it go unchallenged,” Jaishankar said in his address.

He asserted that a “fair, equitable and democratic order” will surely emerge, “once we all put our minds to it. And for a start, that means ensuring that rule makers do not subjugate rule takers. After all, rules will work only when they apply equally to all.”

“Even as we encourage collective endeavours, India seeks to promote cooperation with diverse partners. From the era of non-alignment, we have now evolved to that of Vishwa Mitra (a friend to the world). This is reflected in our ability and willingness to engage with a broad range of nations,” he said, referring to the rapid growth of the Quad, and expansion of the BRICS grouping.

“All countries pursue their national interests. We, in India, have never seen that as being in contradiction with global good. When we aspire to be a leading power, this is not for self-aggrandisement but to take on greater responsibility and make more contributions,” he added.

Underlining that the world is witnessing an exceptional period of turmoil, Jaishankar said it was with a sense of exceptional responsibility that India took up the Presidency of the G20. “Our vision of ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’ sought to focus on the key concerns of the many, not just the narrow interests of a few,” he said.

“In the words of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it was to bridge divides, dismantle barriers and sow seeds of collaboration that nourish a world, where unity prevails over discord and where shared destiny eclipses isolation. The New Delhi G20 Leaders’ Declaration articulates our collective ability to do so,” he said.

He said the international order is diverse and we must cater for divergences, if not differences. “The days when a few nations set the agenda and expected others to fall in line are over,” he added.

Jaishankar said that the African Union’s inclusion in the G20 was a “significant step.”

“This significant step in reform should inspire the United Nations, a much older organization, to also make the Security Council contemporary. Broad representation is a pre-requisite for both effectiveness and credibility,” Jaishakar told the United Nations General Assembly.

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