Canada has initiated the evacuation of the majority of its diplomats stationed in India as the deadline for reducing diplomatic staff nears, in response to an ongoing diplomatic dispute between the two nations.
The Indian government had given Ottawa until October 10 to align its diplomatic presence in India with the number of Indian diplomats in Canada. This move comes in the wake of a controversy surrounding the murder of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Canada’s Diplomatic Evacuation
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Reports suggest that Canada has been relocating its diplomats stationed in India to South Asian countries like Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to comply with the impending deadline.
Initially, it was believed that 41 diplomats would have to leave, but sources now indicate that the requirement is to achieve diplomatic parity.
Global Affairs Canada, the department responsible for managing the country’s diplomatic relations, cited threats to its staff on social media platforms as a reason for temporarily adjusting its staff presence in India.
This decision followed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s claim of ‘credible allegations’ linking Indian government agents to the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
India has strongly rejected the allegations made by Canada, branding them as “absurd” and “motivated.” In retaliation, India expelled a senior Canadian diplomat, mirroring Canada’s expulsion of an Indian official in connection with the case.
While Trudeau expressed a desire not to escalate the situation with India, the two nations are facing strained relations over the issue.
The Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson, Arindam Bagchi, has emphasized the need for parity in diplomatic strength between the two nations. It is reported that Canada maintains approximately 60 diplomats in India, and India expects Ottawa to reduce this number by at least three dozen.
Former Indian Diplomat’s Perspective
Former Indian diplomat KP Fabian believes that the introduction of diplomatic parity is a pressure tactic employed by India.
He explained that, with 21 Indian diplomats in Canada and 62 Canadian diplomats in India, achieving parity would require Canada to remove 41 diplomats by October 10 or risk them being declared persona non grata.
This move represents India’s response to Canada’s earlier expulsion of one diplomat.
Impact on Visa Services
As a consequence of the escalating diplomatic tensions, visa services between India and Canada have been significantly affected. New Delhi halted the processing of visa applications last month, and the reduction in diplomatic personnel may lead to delays in Canadian visa processing services.
The ongoing diplomatic standoff between Canada and India, stemming from allegations surrounding the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, has led to the evacuation of Canadian diplomats from India.
As the October 10 deadline looms, both nations are navigating a complex diplomatic landscape that could have broader implications for their bilateral relations.
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