The relationship between India and Canada has faced challenges recently, primarily due to Canada’s perceived inadequate response to the Khalistan issue. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s behavior during the G20 summit in India further highlighted these strains. In an interview with foreign policy expert Qamar Agha, some key insights into the India Canada relationship were discussed. Here are excerpts from the interview:
1. Why has Canada’s response to the Khalistan issue been deemed unsatisfactory by India?
The issue revolves around Prime Minister Trudeau’s promise to prevent activities promoting violence and hatred, especially related to the Khalistan movement. However, there has been a lack of tangible results in curbing such activities in Canada, leading to tensions in bilateral relations. The presence of a strong Khalistani lobby in Canada, with influence in various sectors, adds to the complexity of the issue.
2. What do you make of Canada halting negotiations for a free trade agreement with India just before the G20 summit?
Trudeau’s behavior and actions before and during the summit suggest that he may have personal issues affecting his diplomatic approach. Canada seems to be missing out on potential benefits from a free trade agreement with India, as the Indian economy is growing rapidly. Despite India’s efforts to improve relations, there has been limited progress in this regard.
3. What were Trudeau’s expectations from his New Delhi trip, considering his less-than-friendly attitude?
It appears Trudeau did not have specific expectations, but his participation in the G20 summit was essential due to its significance and India’s role in the Indo-Pacific region. The concern lies in the disconnect between commitments made during engagements with the Indian Prime Minister and concrete actions to address Khalistani activities upon his return to Canada.
4. Will India Canada relations with India remain contentious as long as Trudeau and his party are in power?
The strength of the Khalistani lobby poses a challenge, and unless strong measures are taken to curb their activities, relations may not normalize. Historical compromises with Khalistani elements have been problematic. To improve bilateral relations, it is crucial to take robust action against these activities.
5. Has Trudeau’s diplomacy made Canada diplomatically irrelevant on the world stage?
Trudeau’s diplomacy has faced criticism, and Canada’s influence in the international arena may have diminished as a result. Some observers consider his approach less successful, impacting Canada’s relevance on the global stage.
In summary, the India Canada relationship faces challenges related to the Khalistan issue and diplomatic approaches. The strength of the Khalistani lobby and the need for concrete action to address it remain key factors in determining the future of bilateral relations between the two countries.