WASHINGTON: The United States and Britain have urged New Delhi not to insist Canada reduce its diplomatic presence in India and expressed concern after Ottawa pulled out 41 diplomats amid a dispute over the murder of a Sikh separatist.

Canada has alleged Indian involvement in the June murder in a Vancouver suburb of Canadian citizen and Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, whom India called a “terrorist.” India denies the allegation.

“We are concerned by the departure of Canadian diplomats from India, in response to the Indian government’s demand of Canada to significantly reduce its diplomatic presence in India,” US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said.

Washington has said it took Canada’s allegations seriously and, along with London, urged India to cooperate with Canada in the murder probe even as Western powers have been reluctant to openly condemn India.

Analysts say the US and the UK do not want to damage ties with India, which they view as a counterbalance to their main Asian rival China.

Statements from the State Department and Britain’s Foreign Office have been the most direct criticism of New Delhi

But Friday’s statements from the US State Department and Britain’s Foreign Office have been the most direct criticism by Washington and London of New Delhi thus far in this case.

“We do not agree with the decisions taken by the Indian government that have resulted in a number of Canadian diplomats departing India,” a spokesperson for Britain’s Foreign Office said.

Canada withdrew 41 diplomats from India after New Delhi last month asked Ottawa to reduce its diplomatic presence following Canada’s allegations over Nijjar’s killing. Canada said it was temporarily suspending in-person operations at consulates in several Indian cities and warned of visa processing delays.

“Resolving differences requires diplomats on the ground. We have urged the Indian government not to insist upon a reduction in Canada’s diplomatic presence and to cooperate in the ongoing Canadian investigation,” the US State Department said, adding that it expects “India to uphold its obligations under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.”

Britain’s Foreign Office also cited the Vienna Convention. It said, “the unilateral removal of the privileges and immunities that provide for the safety and security of diplomats is not consistent with the principles of the effective functioning of the Vienna Convention.”

Published in Dawn, October 22th, 2023

Opinion

Editorial

Another lynching
Updated 22 Jun, 2024

Another lynching

The chilling alternative to not doing anything — which appears to be the state’s preferred option — is the advent of mob rule.
Tax & representation
22 Jun, 2024

Tax & representation

THE taxation measures outlined in the budget for the incoming fiscal year have triggered a lot of concern among ...
Life of the party?
22 Jun, 2024

Life of the party?

THE launch of Awaam Pakistan, a party led by former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and former finance minister...
KP’s ‘power struggle’
Updated 21 Jun, 2024

KP’s ‘power struggle’

Instead of emboldening protesters, CM Gandapur should encourage his provincial subjects to clear their due bills and ensure theft is minimised.
Journalist’s murder
21 Jun, 2024

Journalist’s murder

ANOTHER name has been added to the list of journalists murdered in Pakistan. On Tuesday, Khalil Jibran’s vehicle...
A leaner government?
21 Jun, 2024

A leaner government?

FINANCE Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb has reiterated his government’s ‘commitment’ to shutting down ministries...