US misses the ‘bigger picture’ on row with Canada, says Jaishankar


Jaishankar first raised this difference in the way Americans look at Canada and how Indians look at Canada….reports Asian Lite News

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar was struck by how little people in the US, specially officials he met over the last days including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan,, knew about Canada’s permissive attitude towards terrorism and the thriving nexus of crime, extremism, and human trafficking that exists in that country.

This lack of awareness, the minister said “is a part of the problem”.

It was important, therefore, for him to present to them the “accurate picture” and “our point of view” so that the ongoing debate is not confined to just one or two issues but “the bigger picture which has been going on for some time, and it’s a very serious picture”.

“A lot of Americans are astonished,” the minister told reporters on Friday, unlike Indians who won’t be surprised if told there are people in Canada “who are advocating violence or advocating separatism; there is a history out there”.

“I suspect very few American know this,” he went on to say, and added: “So, in a way, a lot of what I said at the meetings, I think, was new to the Americans.”

At an event at Hudson Institute, a think tank, Jaishankar first raised this difference in the way Americans look at Canada and how Indians look at Canada.

“When Americans look at Canada they see something; when we in India look at Canada we see something else.

“And that’s part of the problem,” the minister said, in a thinly veiled criticism of American officials who have been calling on India to cooperate in Canada’s investigation into allegations by Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that India was behind the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Khalistani activist, in June.

White House and state department officials have expressed “deep concern” over Trudeau’s allegations and have said they support the investigation and want India to cooperate.

In fact, according to reports, it’s the US that provided key information to the Canadians about alleged India links to the killing as part of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing agreement that the two countries have with the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.

Jaishankar said it did not come up in the meetings. “It’s important that we, you know, talk it out with the Americans. After all, they are very close to Canada, they are good friends of ours,” the minister said about why he brought up the larger context for his American interlocutors.

“It’s important that they also have an accurate picture, that they have our point of view on this matter as well.”

This is a conversation that should continue with focus on all issues. “I’m not prejudging issues. I’m not taking absolutist positions,” the minister said. “What we have taken is a very reasonable stance. It should not be that the entire debate focuses on issue one, issue two, and the bigger picture which has been going on for some time, and it’s a very serious picture.”

To underscore the seriousness of issues at hand, Jaishankar brought up threats faced by Indian missions. “When was the last time that any of our missions was intimidated to a point where it could not continue with its normal functioning? And if someone says this could happen in a G7 country, in the Commonwealth countries it gives you a lot to think about.”

‘India, US see each other as very comfortable partners’

Stating that there is no limit to the India-US relationship, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Saturday said that today, New Delhi and Washington see each other as desirable, optimal, comfortable partners.

The foreign minister was addressing the people of the Indian diaspora at the ‘Colors of Friendship’ event at India House in Washington DC. Hundreds of diaspora members gathered at the lawns of the official residence of India’s Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu, in honour of Jaishankar, listening and watching performances by local artists.

At the event, Jaishankar said, “I am often asked, where do you think this relationship (India-US) is going…now it’s hard for me today, really, to put a limit on it, to define it, to even voice expectations, because in every way…this relationship has exceeded expectations, which is why today we don’t even try to define it. We actually keep raising the bar”.

“We keep finding new domains, the more we do with each other, the more we find we are able to do, explore together and achieve together,” he added.

Emphasising “chemistry and comfort”, Jaishankar said that today India and the US have come up as “desirable, optimal and comfortable” partners.

“In this changing world…I would say, today, India and the United States have moved to a position where we really see each other as very desirable, optimal partners, comfortable partners, with whom it’s a natural instinct today…So, the chemistry and the comfort today of the relationship gives me enormous hope about where the prospects are,” he said.

Several senior officials of the Biden administration including; US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Verma, President Biden’s domestic policy advisor Neera Tanden, and Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Dr Rahul Gupta were part of the reception.

US lawmakers Shri Thanedar and Rick McCormik, Democrat and Republican, were present at the event.

Just days away from Gamdhi Jayanti, Jaishankar paid floral

Tributes to Mahatma Gandhi and made several remarks about the legacy of Gandhi.

Referring to India’s G20 presidency, the EAM stated that India’s G20 presidency revolved around the message of Mahatma Gandhi, which focusses on doing the right thing and leaving no one behind.

“We are approaching Gandhi Jayanti, I would like to leave you a thought. To say he (Mahatma Gandhi) was an extraordinary man would be the understatement of this century. He said so many things so tellingly…The message at the end of the day was about doing the right thing, about doing the decent thing and about leaving no one behind. Gandhi Ji’s message is very complicated, but its essence is actually very, very simple,” Jaishankar said.

He added, “When we took up the G20 presidency, the responsibility. In many ways, that message was at the heart of our thinking…What we tried to do in G20, the underlying thinking, reflected what we are trying to do in India, what I think many Americans are trying to do in America, what we India and America should be doing with the world, which is to leave no one behind”.

Jaishankar is on a visit to the US from September 22-30. He addressed the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. He also held meetings with several top US officials during his visit. (ANI)

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