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India's links to Canada target killing shows its global ‘extrajudicial network’: FO

“Reckless and irresponsible act raise concerns over India’s reliability as a credible international partner," says Mumtaz Zahra Baloch

September 20, 2023
Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch briefing the press in Islamabad on May 18, 2023. — Screengrab/Ministry of Foreign Affairs Islamabad
Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch briefing the press in Islamabad on May 18, 2023. — Screengrab/Ministry of Foreign Affairs Islamabad

Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch on Wednesday called alleged Indian involvement in the killing of a prominent Sikh leader in Canada a reflection of New Delhi's "extrajudicial [killing] network" on a global scale.

Commenting on India's involvement in Hardeep Singh Nijjar — a prominent Sikh leader in Canada — the FO spokesperson said that the incident shows India's involvement in "extra-territorial killings" and that India's links to a Canadian citizen's murder on Canadian soil is a "clear violation of international law and the UN principle of state sovereignty".

Terming the incident as a “reckless and irresponsible act” Baloch raised concerns over India’s reliability as a credible international partner and its claims for enhanced global responsibilities.

She also recalled India’s previous record in such extra-territorial activities accentuating that the Indian premier intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), had been actively involved in abductions and assassinations in South Asia.

The development comes as Pro-Khalistan Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a strong supporter of an independent Sikh homeland known as Khalistan and local leader of Sikhs For Justice and Khalistan Referendum campaign, was gunned down on June 18 outside a Sikh cultural centre in Canada's British Columbia.

Baloch also reminded that in December 2022, Pakistan released a comprehensive dossier providing concrete and irrefutable evidence of India’s involvement in the Lahore attack of June 2021. The attack was planned and executed by Indian intelligence.

Separately the FO also mentioned Kulbhushan Jadhav's — a high-ranking Indian military officer commander — confession acknowledging his involvement in directing, financing, and executing terror and sabotage in Pakistan.

'Credible allegations' linking India with Sikh leader murder: Canadian PM

Earlier this week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau while speaking in the House of Commons, had said that Canada’s national security agencies are investigating "credible allegations" that the "agents of the government of India" were involved in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

Canada has also named the diplomat who has been expelled for plotting to kill the Sikh leader as Pavan Kumar Rai, the head of India's intelligence agency RAW in Canada, operating from the Indian High Commission.

The two countries have since engaged in a tit-for-tat diplomatic row with Canada expelling the Indian intelligence operative Rai. In response, India too summoned the Canadian High Commissioner in New Delhi informing him to leave the country on Tuesday.

"The concerned diplomat has been asked to leave India within the next five days," India's Ministry of External Affairs said.

FO rebukes Indian allegations over IIOJK encounter

Addressing Indian allegations linking Pakistan with the Anantnag encounter over in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), Baloch said that India has a “habit of implicating Pakistan in anything that happens under its watch", especially in the illegally occupied territory.

Responding to a question pertaining to Pakistan's engagement with India at levels of the foreign ministries and Director General Military Operations (DGMOs), the FO spokesperson apprised that the main channel of communication between Pakistan and India, i.e., at the level of diplomatic missions had reduced its strength to charge d’affaires.

"If functional, the DGMO level also existed between the two countries," she added.

Expressing Pakistan's willingness to hold talks with India, the spokesperson said that Pakistan is ready to hold talks with India on all disputes, especially the core disputed Himalayan territory.

“With regard to third-party mediation, Pakistan has always said that we would welcome it on the IIOJK issue on the basis of the UN Security Council resolutions and in accordance with the principles of international law,” she said.

Meanwhile, commenting on India's state-sponsored human rights violation in the occupied valley, Baloch highlighted that the Indian occupation forces in IIOJK have killed 68 Kashmiris, including women and children with 13 custodial killings in the first eight months of 2023 alone.

Whereas 2,900 persons including political activists, businesspeople, women, and youth were arbitrarily arrested, she added.