This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Courting Diplomatic Dysfunction

"All of those things add up [and] present a picture that isn't particularly pretty when India is looking at it."
"There was always a concern [in New Delhi] that this particular government would be somewhat beholden to the gatekeepers to the Sikh community, to some of the more radical groups."
Anirudh Bhattacharya, Canadian corespondent, Hindustan Times

"We have taken it up with Canada in the past and the practice [of the Prime Minister's presence at Sikh political commemorative events] has not been discontinued."
"We reject this misguided motion [Ontario legislation's Sikh genocide resolution] which is based on a limited understanding of India, its constitution, society, ethos, rule of law and the judicial process."
Vishwa Nath Goel, Indian High Commission, Ottawa

"There is a certain underlying policy and current going on [in India] that is continuously discriminating against a minority."
"Yes, the Sikhs are left with no choice but to push for a separate homeland."
Balkaranjit Singh, Ontario Sikhs and Gurdwara Council
Hundreds push and shove their way through the crowd to take pictures or shake hands with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during Khalsa Day at City Hall in Toronto on Sunday April 30, 2017. Veronica Henri/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network

Canada's worst experience with homegrown terrorism that caused the death of 329  Canadians when Sikh extremists living in Canada plotted to set off bombs on an Air India flight from Canada to India in 1985 was never satisfactorily prosecuted, nor the plotters found guilty and punished for their dreadful crime. Before then, Sikh-Canadian critics of militant Sikhs in Canada agitating for a separate Sikh Khalistan were threatened and persecuted and targeted by Sikh extremists.

The irony seems to be that Sikhs in India have, over the years, resigned themselves to living as an integrated-but-separate group within the majority Hindu population. India, a vast country with the world's second-largest population -- about 1.2-billion people -- has many minority groups, including a Muslim population of about 172-million, making India's Muslim demographic the world's third-largest. The government of India does make a practical social and legal effort toward equality.

Great unrest in India occurred decades earlier when Sikh extremists challenged the government in their campaign for a separate Khalistan. The Golden Temple of Amritsar was the site of a military attack meant to rid it of armed rebels in 1984; that the Indian government sent the military to the most revered of sacred Sikh monuments enraged the Sikhs. It led to two Sikh bodyguards murdering then-prime minister Indira Gandhi, and that led to pogroms of rampaging Hindus attacking and killing an estimated 3,000 Sikhs in revenge.

With this volatile background, it was perhaps not entirely clever as even-handed diplomacy goes, for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to be the guest of honour at the April 30 Khalsa Day event in Toronto. Not that similar awkward Liberal presence at various ethnic/cultural events haven't taken place with, for example, the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka, and Muslim events featuring organizers with links to Islamic terrorist groups which Justin Trudeau has also attended and spoken at.
Trudeau mosque
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to members of the muslim community in Ottawa, Monday September 12, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld   Samy Metwally, the lead imam at the Ottawa Muslim Association, is a “a member of the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS)”, according to the mosque’s website. In 2014 the United Arab Emirates placed the group on its list of designated terrorist organizations.

The political ingratiation of ethnic groups has a long tradition in the Liberal party. The Provincial Liberals recently passed a resolution in support of Sikhs claiming a genocide was perpetrated upon them through the pogroms of the 1980s after the death of Indira Gandhi. A more inappropriate gesture would be hard to identify; the word genocide misused, assaulting the sensibilities of the Indian political hierarchy. It is what is called pandering by the government to Canada's 460,000 Canadian Sikhs.

That this Liberal government has no fewer than four elected-to-Parliament Sikhs in its Cabinet is fairly extraordinary, reflecting the political activism of Sikhs and their clout. Canada's Minister of Defence is a Sikh and his visit to India last month occasioned much criticism in India through accusations that he is a separatist, though Harjat Singh Sajjan is as Canadian as he is Sikh. The criticism that came his way in Canada resulted from his foolish embroidery of his command status in Afghanistan as a military reservist specializing in intelligence.

When the Ontario legislature tabled the legislation referring to the 1984 riots and massacres as a 'genocide', India sat up and took serious notice; why would it not? Not that an Indian prime minister didn't apologize for the riots when the ruling Congress party was held to have been complicit in them. Which didn't stop Punjabi Sikhs to help elect the Congress party in the last election. To Indian authorities it is not Sikhs living in India who now present a problem, but those living abroad, in Canada.

The Khalistani movement that continues to simmer in Canada is dangerous, according to Mr. Bhattacharya of the Hindustan Times newspaper, because "it bleeds into the Punjab". Evidence can be found in the arrest of two Khalistani terrorists in the Punjab along with a cache of weapons, last week. It represented a cell manged by an Ontario-based "hardliner". So yes, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should indeed exercise a little more diplomatic caution when he embroils himself, and Canada, in movements whose purpose he seems oblivious of.

Of course, he should consult with his intelligence personnel to guide him in these matters, since he seems all too unaware for a man in his position. After all, if a foreign country, like France, and an esteemed visitor like, for example the late Charles de Gaulle shouted out Vive le Quebec libre! during a time of Quebec extremists engaging in violence to emphasize their dedication to separation, causing the current prime minister's late father to declare the imposition of the War Measures Act, his son's dallying in perceived support for the same elsewhere does little credit to the country.

Bottom line: All Canadian citizens, loyal to their country, including immigrants who become citizens, should not meddle in the affairs of other countries, with historical backgrounds that are complex, in a one-sided manner. Issues that divide people in their country of origin should remain there, not to be imported when people migrate to another country, embroiling their adopted country in the politics and animosities of ethnic and religious groups elsewhere.

Hundreds push and shove their way through the crowd to take pictures or shake hands with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during Khalsa Day at City Hall in Toronto on Sunday April 30, 2017. Veronica Henri/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network
Veronica Henri/Toronto Sun

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