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Canadian think-tank says Pakistan behind Khalistan groups, Trudeau govt dragging feet

Among the organisations it mentions is Sikh for Justice, a pro-Khalistan group banned by India. A few days ago, the Indian government declared its chief, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a designated terrorist under the UAPA and ordered attachment of his properties.

Written by Deeptiman Tiwary | New Delhi | Updated: September 11, 2020 7:35:38 am
Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (Reuters)

A Canadian think-tank has brought out a report accusing Pakistan of fuelling the Khalistan movement in Canada, and saying the Justin Trudeau government is dragging its feet on the matter due to domestic political compulsions.

Among the organisations it mentions is Sikh for Justice, a pro-Khalistan group banned by India. A few days ago, the Indian government declared its chief, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a designated terrorist under the UAPA and ordered attachment of his properties.

The report, released on September 9 by the McDonald Laurier Institute, has been authored by journalist Terry Milewski. In ‘Khalistan: A Project of Pakistan’, Milewski says Islamabad is backing the movement designed to subvert the national security of both Canada and India. It points to a map of Khalistan released by the separatists that excludes all of Pakistan Punjab.

It claims that in 2018, a ‘Public Report on the Terrorism Threat to Canada’ brought out by the Canadian government changed the original text that said “Sikh (Khalistani) extremist ideologies and movements” to “extremists who support violent means to establish an independent state within India”. According to Milewski, this was done under “pressure of well-funded fringe activists” in Canada.

The report says Sikh separatism has no traction among Indian Sikhs, and is limited to a very small part of the community even overseas. “Even so, from Surrey, British Columbia to Brampton, Ontario, Canadian politicians of both left and right often assume that separatist groups such as the WSO (World Sikh Organisation) and Sikhs for Justice speak for the Sikh community. The evidence, instead, suggests that they speak for Pakistan.”

Pointing to a map of Khalistan put out by the referendum campaigners, the report says it “does not reach one inch into traditional Sikh lands in Pakistan… even to Nankana Sahib, sacred birthplace of Guru Nanak… It appears, then, that Pakistan wants the Sikhs to be free, but not in Pakistan.”

Milewski goes on to talk about an online referendum launched by Sikhs For Justice for a separate Sikh state, planned for November. While noting that western democracies with large Sikh communities like Canada, Britain and the US are sceptical of it (Canada has said it won’t recognise it), the report is critical of India for banning it. This gave the campaign with little support “undue importance”, his report says.

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