ISLAMABAD: Following Canada’s accusation of India’s involvement in the killing of a Sikh separatist leader on Canadian soil, former Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari asserted that it was time for the international community to acknowledge India as a “rogue Hindutva terrorist state.”
The slain separatist leader, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, aged 45, was fatally shot outside a Sikh temple in Surrey, a Vancouver suburb with a significant Sikh population, on June 18. Nijjar had been an advocate for an independent Khalistani state for Sikhs and had been labeled a “terrorist” by India in July 2020.
In response to this, Canada announced on Monday that it was actively investigating credible allegations linking Indian government agents to the assassination of the Sikh separatist leader. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered an emergency statement to the House of Commons, condemning any foreign government’s involvement in the murder of a Canadian citizen as an “unacceptable violation of our sovereignty.”
Canada also took diplomatic action by expelling India’s top intelligence agent and accusing India of playing a role in the murder.
India, in turn, responded by expelling a Canadian diplomat with a five-day notice to leave the country. Earlier, India dismissed the Canadian accusation as “absurd and motivated” and encouraged Canada to take legal action against anti-Indian elements operating from its territory.
Speaking to the media in Lahore, PPP Chairman and former Foreign Minister Bilawal emphasized the need for the interim Foreign Office to address the situation and issue a “clear” statement. Bilawal stated that Canada had made a “serious allegation” against India, exposing India’s actions before the international community. He called on the international community to recognize India as a rogue Hindutva terrorist state, citing its alleged involvement in terrorism in Kashmir and violations of international norms and sovereignty.
Bilawal’s strong criticism of the Indian leadership is not new. In December of the previous year, while he was serving as Foreign Minister, he referred to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as “the butcher of Gujarat” in response to his Indian counterpart’s accusations against Pakistan at a UN briefing room in New York.
In May of this year, Bilawal became the first Pakistani Foreign Minister to visit India in over a decade, attending a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Conference in Goa. Upon his return, he claimed to have countered India’s false narrative about Muslims and exposed Delhi’s defiance of bilateral and international agreements.
During the Goa conference, Bilawal and his Indian counterpart posed for a protocol picture but did not shake hands, amid Indian media commentary on why talks should not occur. The two foreign ministers engaged in a blame game during the SCO meeting, raising issues such as terrorism and Kashmir.
Bilawal expressed concern over the lack of a level-playing field in the upcoming elections, noting that the Election Commission of Pakistan is responsible for setting the election date.
He stated that the PPP’s main concern is a specific political party, the PML-N, and that the PPP has authorized Zardari to address these concerns.
Bilawal also criticized the allocation of development projects in Sindh and the launch of programs in Punjab that allow judges to purchase plots without paying interest.