Nurturing Snakes In His Backyard: Why Trudeau Should Seek Hillary Clinton's Advice On What She Told Pakistan

R Jagannathan

Sep 21, 2023, 12:47 PM | Updated 12:47 PM IST

Trudeau needs Hillary Clinton lessons.
Trudeau needs Hillary Clinton lessons.
  • Trudeau must internalise Hillary Clinton's 2011 message to Pakistan, seeking cooperation against the Haqqani network.
  • She warned Pakistan: “You can’t keep snakes in your backyard and expect them only to bite your neighbours.”
  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s bid to implicate India in the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar last June is not going to end well for him.

    A few days ago, he told Canada’s Parliament that his security agencies have been pursuing “credible allegations” of “a potential link between agents of the government of India and the killing of a Canadian citizen (ie, Nijjar)”.

    That he chose to name and expel a Research & Analysis Wing official without establishing these allegations with solid proof is one part of his stupidity. But his real problem is unrelated to what Indian agents may or may not have done in Canada.

    What he should worry about is whether Canada should be giving citizenship to the likes of Nijjar, who not only make open threats against a friendly democratic country, but use its soil to intimidate not just Indian Sikhs and Hindus who are not part of the Kahlistan project, but (possibly) also local officials.

    It is highly likely that the “credible allegations” that Trudeau spoke off have come from none other than these same Khalistani elements who have infiltrated the Trudeau administration as he runs a minority government and needs the support of these violent elements to stay in power.

    What Trudeau needs to internalise is Hillary Clinton’s ringing message to the Pakistani government in 2011, when she demanded their cooperation in dealing with the terrorist Haqqani network on their side of the border.

    Clinton warned Pakistan: “You can’t keep snakes in your backyard and expect them only to bite your neighbours.”

    The fact that Pakistan is today facing a terrorist problem not only inside the country, but also from the West, from Afghanistan, shows how these snakes are now busy chewing up Pakistan itself.

    This is exactly the position Canada finds itself in by nurturing snakes like Nijjar, who headed the banned Khalistan Tiger Force, or people like Gurpatwant Singh Pannun of Sikhs for Justice (another banned organisation in India), who warned Hindu Canadians to leave the country and return to India.

    And this when his political patron saint, Trudeau, says that he has a duty to protect Canadians from outside interference and an infringement of its sovereignty. Does Trudeau want to protect violent extremists while undermining the safety of other fellow Canadians? 

    If a small and violent group, which forms a minuscule minority within the Canadian Sikh community that forms 2 per cent of its 40 million population, can wield such power within Canada, what is the possibility that it derives its power merely from legally available resources?

    There is a strong possibility that these violent forces are funded by Pakistan’s ISI, which itself may be covertly funding itself with drug cartel money. 

    Many of the gangs that order assassinations in India operate with impunity from Canadian soil. It is only a matter of time before these gangs start targeting Canadians. 

    Pankaj Saran, a former deputy national security advisor in India, wrote in The Economic Times today (21 September) that “the hand of Canada can be found in major sectarian and brutal conflicts in the world such as the Tamil war (in Sri Lanka), the Ukraine conflict, Sikh separatism and the killing of Bangladesh’s Sheikh Mujibur Rehman.” 

    Bangladesh is still to obtain the extradition of at least one convicted killer of Mujibur Rahman from Canada. The Bangabandhu was assassinated by radical Islamist elements half a century ago in August 1975 in a coup.

    Canada was also a key source of funding for the murderous Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), especially from the Tamil diaspora which included non-supporters of the Eelam cause.

    Human Rights Watch, in a report in March 2006, talks about the LTTE’s extortion and intimidation tactics in Canada and the United Kingdom. The extorted money was needed to fund its war against the Sri Lankan Army.

    The report notes: “As Sri Lankan Tamils established themselves in Canada, the United Kingdom and other Western countries, the Tamil community became a significant source of financial and political support for the LTTE in its struggle to establish an independent state, Tamil Eelam, for the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka's North and East. While many members of the Tamil diaspora willingly and actively support the LTTE, others have been subject to intimidation, extortion, and physical violence as the LTTE seeks to suppress criticism of its human rights abuses and to ensure a steady flow of income.”

    The issue is not what a terrorist organisation like the LTTE did, for that is what terrorists do, but how a supposedly liberal country like Canada effectively nurtures them in the name of free speech and human rights.

    Clearly, ordinary Canadians may choose to look the other way thinking this is about somebody else’s war, but as Tamils in India too found out to their cost, this nurturing of snakes in their backyard finally ended up claiming the life of one of India’s prime ministers and several people around him.

    India should send a team of diplomats, intelligence officials and Sikh leaders to Canada, the US and UK to tell them that they are playing with fire. India can protect itself, but can the US afford to let a peaceful northern neighbour commit hara kiri?

    Regardless of whether the government of Canada thinks India ordered a hit on Nijjar or not, the question to ask their superpower neighbour in the south is what they would do if elements in their country threatened citizens in the US?

    Did the US not send agents to kill Osama bin Laden or Ayman Al Zawahiri in the countries that were harbouring them?

    India is unlikely to have ordered any hit on Nijjar, but does Canada expect India to just keep still and do nothing about this threat?

    Jagannathan is Editorial Director, Swarajya. He tweets at @TheJaggi.

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