At the United Nations General Assembly, Canada, which has been facing uproar from India, Russia and the West, has expressed grave concerns about "foreign interference" on its soil.
While addressing the UNGA, UN Ambassador of Canada, Bob Rae, on Tuesday, reiterated the stance of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and said that "democracies are under threat due to foreign interference" and cannot bend the rules of state-to-state relations for political expediency". Although he did not name India in his speech, it was obvious he was referring to New Delhi.
"At the same time, we put great emphasis on the importance of equality. We also have to uphold the values of free and democratic societies," said Rae. "We cannot bend the rules of state-to-state relations for political expediency. Because we have seen and continue to see the extent to which democracies are under threat through various means of foreign interference," added Rae.
Further, he said, "But the truth is, if we don't adhere to the rules that we have agreed to, the very fabric of our open and free societies will start to tear."
Jaishankar took a dig at Canada
His statement at the UNGA came after External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar raised grave concerns and said political convenience could not determine response to terrorism. "Respect for territorial integrity and non-interference in internal affairs cannot be exercised in cherry picking," Jaishankar said during a UNGA session on Tuesday.
His response came nearly a week after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, alleged Indian agents were involved in the killing of Khalistan terrorist, Hardeep Singh Nijjar-- a claim India rejected outrightly.
Subsequently, the tension between the two nations soared to a new low and this prompted the expulsion of diplomats from their respective countries. Responding to the allegations of Trudeau that he has "credible information" about India's link with the killing of the extremist, the Ministry of External Affairs rejected the claims and said Ottawa did not proffer any "proof" that could ascertain Canadian PM's claim.
The Ministry asked the Canadian Embassy in New Delhi to minimise the diplomatic presence as it considers Ottawa had many staff whose roles were questionable. Also, New Delhi announced the suspension of visa services for Canadians.
BLS International, which runs the visa application centres in Canada, published a message on its Canadian site. "Important notice from the Indian Mission: Due to operational reasons, with effect from 21st September 2023 [Thursday], Indian visa services have been suspended till further notice," read the notice.
Trudeau says he does want to provoke India
Earlier last week, Trudeau clarified that he was not trying to provoke New Delhi but rather wanted his Indian counterpart to address the issue properly.
"The government of India needs to take this matter with the utmost seriousness. We are doing that, we are not looking to provoke or escalate," news agency Reuters quoted the Canadian PM as saying to reporters on Tuesday.
The statement from Washington came after Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said the expelled Indian diplomat was the head of Indian intelligence in Canada and added her PM also raised the matter with US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.