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PM addresses the Pannun episode

Modi effectively silenced critics by saying “Security and counter-terrorism cooperation has been a key component" of India-US relationship

PM Narendra Modi / pmindia.gov

Reiterating that India’s commitment is to the rule of law, the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has categorically said that any information on the Gurpatwant Singh Pannun issue would be studied carefully and has brushed aside the notion that India-United States relations are being impacted because of this. 

“If someone gives us any information, we would definitely look into it. If a citizen of ours has done anything good or bad, we are ready to look into it. Our commitment is to the rule of law”, the Prime Minister said in an interview with Financial Times.

For about  a month now the Pannun saga has been bandied about even if Official New Delhi and Washington have gone about the matter in a mature and professional fashion. Detractors of India have not wasted the opportunity to gleefully argue of the limits of an ‘exaggerated’ values- based relationship.

And then there were those who were wagging that infamous “I told you so” line, stressing that it was only a matter of time before Washington turned the tables on India.

Modi effectively silenced critics by saying “Security and counter-terrorism cooperation has been a key component of our partnership. I don’t think it is appropriate to link a few incidents with diplomatic relations between the two countries”. Still there is an element of unease in India over the fashion in which the Biden administration has gone about the incident. 

And the misgivings are not entirely misplaced. The Sikhs for Justice for which Pannun is the general counsel has been deemed as an “unlawful association” by India in 2019 and the following year Pannun was listed as an “individual terrorist”. 

Since September Official India has been in the spotlight, first by the allegations of the Canadian Prime Minister of official collusion in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Vancouver this June; and in November the United States Justice Department indicted an Indian national and another unnamed supposedly Indian government official in a “plot” to kill Pannun. 

But the difference between the Canadian and American cases were not lost: it was allegations versus a specific indictment unsealed in a New York city court. The government of India tossed out the Canadian allegations as “absurd” and “motivated” but went on to form a high level probe committee on November 18 to look into what Washington was saying.

In the aftermath of 9/11, the United States wrote the rule book on terrorism and terrorists and must be careful in ensuring that it follows its own dictum. Anti-India elements in America seem to have a free hand to go about in any wany they wanted: threatening Indian diplomats, destroying Embassy and Consular properties, threatening to blow up commercial airlines and placing bounties. 

Still they are allowed to play the victim card. Worse a scandalous argument in some western quarters that being “democracies” the hands are tied on grounds of Free Speech and Free Expression!

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