In a recent report by Time Magazine on November 23, 2023, the Biden Administration has accused India of being involved in a thwarted plot to assassinate Sikh leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a US citizen residing in America. Pannun, the General Counsel of Sikhs for Justice, advocates for an independent Sikh State known as “Khalistan.” This allegation adds to the tensions already raised by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who accused the Indian government of involvement in the murder of another Sikh separatist leader on Canadian soil. This article aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of the allegations, their geopolitical implications, and the broader context of India’s alleged involvement in state-sponsored terrorism.
According to Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman for White House National Security Council, the US government has raised the issue with Indian officials at the highest levels. President Joe Biden discussed the plot with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the G20 summit in New Delhi in September 2023. The White House’s response, treating the case with “utmost seriousness,” signals a potential strain in US-India relations.
The Financial Times reports that the timing of these allegations is delicate for Washington and its allies, including the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network (US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK).
These nations view India as a rising military, trade, and technological counterweight to China. The credibility of India as a reliable partner is now under scrutiny due to these serious accusations.
India has a history of sponsoring terrorism in South Asia, specifically targeting Pakistan to destabilize the region and establish its hegemony. The narrative extends to India’s actions in the Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K) since 1987, where it is accused of committing state terrorism and genocide in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
The arrest of Indian Naval Officer Kulbhushan Jadhav in Balochistan in 2016 is highlighted as clear evidence of India’s involvement in sponsoring terrorism. Jadhav confessed to being assigned by India to sponsor terrorism in Balochistan province of Pakistan using Iranian soil covertly. This incident, coupled with India’s alleged ongoing terrorism in Pakistan, supports the claim that India is a state sponsoring terrorism. The argument points to incidents within India, such as the killing of Muslims on allegations of cow slaughtering, violence against religious minorities for not converting to Hinduism, and the massacre of Muslims in New Delhi in 2016. These instances are presented as evidence of India’s state terrorism within its borders.
The narrative asserts that despite clear evidence of India’s sponsorship of terrorism, the US and Western countries have historically overlooked Pakistan’s allegations due to their strategic interests.
The author calls for designating Indian citizens involved in terrorism and sanctioning India, including placing it on the black list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
These developments questions the reliability of India as a strategic partner against China, quoting Ashley Tellies, a strong advocate of closer US-India ties, who stated that the Biden Administration’s expectations of India might be misplaced. There is skepticism about India’s willingness to join any military coalition against China, despite generous support from the US.
The recent accusation by the US regarding the plot to assassinate Gurpatwant Singh Pannun brings renewed attention to India’s alleged involvement in targeted overseas killings.
The mention of the murder of Canadian Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Vancouver further underscores the gravity of the situation. The diplomatic fallout between Canada and India after the accusations adds complexity to the geopolitical landscape.
In conclusion, recent incidents of threats to Sikh leaders, residing abroad presents a comprehensive analysis of the recent allegations against India, contextualizing them within the historical backdrop of India’s alleged state-sponsored terrorism in South Asia. The geopolitical implications, doubts on India’s reliability, and the call for international action make this a critical moment in the evolving relationships between key global players. The renewed focus on India’s role in overseas killings emphasizes the need for a thorough investigation and diplomatic resolution to address these serious accusations.
The writer is Islamabad based regular contributor.