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Gurpatwant Singh Pannu next? Not killed by ‘Indian agents’, but Pakistan: What some in Intelligence believe might be fallout of Justin Trudeau’s shenanigans

The Intelligence Officer asked how so many top terrorist commanders, groomed and funded by Pakistan, were being killed inside Pakistan or Pakistan Occupied Territories, alluding to the fact that Pakistan might neutralise SFJ' Pannu to not only blame India but later, claim that a terror attack was retribution by "Khalistani activists" to avenge the murder of Pannu.

On the 18th of September, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused India of the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar on Canadian soil. Without providing any proof, Trudeau claimed that Canada is pursuing “credible information” about Indian agents being involved in Nijjar’s killing. After the bizarre statement by Trudeau, Canada expelled one Indian diplomat over it, the Indian government rejected all of Canada’s allegations. In a swift response, the Ministry of External Affairs has stated that any allegation of India’s involvement in Nijjar’s killing is ‘absurd and motivated’.

The statement by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is widely considered an unprecedented one because it is usually not the norm in the global polity to blame other countries for assassinations without offering proof first. The ramifications of such allegations and subsequent actions of expelling diplomats is considered a hostile move and are almost certainly one that affects the already strained ties between the two countries. Now, some from the Intelligence community believe that Pakistan might take advantage of the statement by Justin Trudeau not only to demonise India on the world stage but also, perhaps eliminate Gurpatwant Pannu to further the campaign against India.

Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the head of Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara Sahib and a wanted Khalistani terrorist in India, was shot dead in Surrey by two unidentified assailants on June 18 this year. He was a wanted terrorist by the Indian Government. The 46-year-old hailed from the village Bhar Singhpura of Jalandhar. Post the murder of the Khalistani terrorist, the “India did it” trope was first peddled by the head of designated terror organisation Gurpatwant Singh Pannu.

“While SFJ has been using ballots for the liberation of Punjab from Indian occupation, India has set the cycle of violence into motion by resorting to the use of bullets. While Indian bullets cannot stop the Khalistan Referendum which will balkanize India and liberate Punjab, Modi, Shah and Doval should be prepared to face justice under international law for ordering the killing of pro-Khalistan Sikhs,” Pannun reportedly said in a video statement. 

Pannun also vowed to dismantle the Indian system in a bid to avenge the Khalistani terrorist’s killing. 

Interestingly, while India has been raising its concerns with Canada about harbouring and aiding Khalistani terrorists on its soil, its Prime Minister now seems to have endorsed the very false narrative that the head of a terror organisation was peddling after Nijjar was killed. The Khalistani reaction to Trudeau’s statement was almost immediately obvious.

Pro-Khalistan lawmaker, Jagmeet Singh, who is already under the radar of the Indian authorities took to X to issue a veiled threat. “I will leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of justice, including holding Narendra Modi accountable”, he said.

With Trudeau making pro-Khalistan noise, Jagmeet Singh threatening PM Modi and India and Canada expelling Indian diplomats with no proof offered to back their allegations, there is reason to believe that Indians in Canada, especially Diplomats, are in grave danger from Khalistanis. Pertinently, Khalistanis had earlier threatened Indian Diplomats in India as well. While Justin Trudeau was getting snubbed in India during the G-20 summit, Pannu, whose rants Trudeau is now parroting, had threatened that SFJ would target the Indian High Commissioner to Canada, Sanjay Kumar Verma, in response to Justin Trudeau’s embarrassment in India.

There seems to be an indeniable synergy between terrorist Gurpatwant Pannu, sympathisers like Jagmeet Singh and Justin Trudeau – a concern that India has raised often.

After the unprecedented move by Canada to worsen ties with India and espouse the Khalistani agenda officially, OpIndia spoke to members of the Intelligence community to understand what the ramification of these shenanigans might be.

“Justin Trudeau is feeling the heat back home. If you notice, Jagmeet Singh has been going hammer and tongs against Trudeau at every opportunity he gets. The only time he supports him is when he is taking the pro-Khalistan line. While the fallout might be severe, it is evident that Trudeau is escalating tension with India to hold on to some support that he might get”, one officer said.

As per recent Ababcus Data ratings, the Conservatives are leading in Canada as the Trudeau-led Federal Government’s disapproval rating has jumped to 57%. Only 29%, 2% less than the 4th September rating, approve of the Federal government. Since 2015, the disapproval rating was highest on 14th September. The personal image of the Canadian Prime Minister has also worsened, as only 27% see his performance as positive. In comparison, 56% of the Canadian population is unhappy with him, giving him a net favourable rating of -29%t. Notably, the negative impression of Trudeau among the Canadian population was 39% in June 2021, which has risen sharply by almost 20 per cent in two years.

Some members of the Intelligence Community believed that the fallout from Trudeau’s dangerous game for domestic politics might be far more severe than people anticipated. “Yes, Canada has said something and India has responded with a statement too, but there is more to this than meets the eye”, he said.

The Intelligence Officer believed that with Trudeau appeasing the Khalistanis, Pakistan, which has funded and fuelled the Khalistani terrorist movement since its inception, may initiate a series of dangerous moves. “We have seen this happen in the past. In 1982, India had asked Trudeau senior to hand over Babbar Khalsa terrorist, a demand which Pierre Trudeau did not comply with. It was shortly after that in 1985 that Khalistanis carried out the Air India bombing”.

Taking lessons from what happened then, some officers believe that Pakistan will use Trudeau’s statement to not only demonise India, by maybe issuing statements without any locus standi but also create a situation to further this situation.

“Pakistan has a history of eliminating and getting rid of the terrorists they create to further demonise India on an international platform. You see, they have no dirth of those who are brainwashed enough to take on the mantle and continue their campaign of terrorism against India. Once a terrorist gains momentum internationally, Pakistan may eliminate him to blame India, riding on the statement of Justin Trudeau, to justify further terrorist activity against India”, he said.

The officer was alluding to Gurpatwant Singh Pannu and how Pakistan may eliminate its own creation to then blame India, through its sympathisers within India and outside (like Jagmeet Singh) for the ‘assassination’ in order to not only protect its own interest with FATF and show India as the pariah but also to later tacitly justify terrorist activity against India as a fall out of India’s supposed ‘assassination’ of Pannu. Blaming India without any facts is precisely what Canada has done now and it will only embolden Pakistan to mount similar lies.

For Pakistan, elements like Pannu are ‘useful idiots’ who further their cause internationally. However, they are by no measure indispensable. After years of being the mothership of terrorism, they have several individuals who can easily be propped up as replacement figures. Therefore, eliminating one of their puppets like Pannu in order to unleash terror against India and paint India as a pariah is not something that is unthinkable.

“The international community regards ISI as one of the best intelligence agencies in the world. Yet, there are Kashmiri terrorists, created by Pakistan, being killed regularly in Pakistan and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. Who is killing them? How are they getting eliminated in droves despite the ISI keeping a close watch on the assets they created against India?”, the officer said.

In early September, one of the most wanted Kashmiri terrorists was shot dead by “unidentified assailants” inside a mosque in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Riyaz Ahmad alias Abu Qasim, affiliated with the proscribed Lashkar-e-Taiba, was one of the main conspirators behind the Dhangri terror attack on January 1. Ahmad mostly operated from the Lashkar-e-Taiba base camp in Muridke but had recently shifted to Rawalakot. He was a close associate of Sajjad Jaat, the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s chief commander, and also looked after the outfit’s finances.

Ahmad was the fourth top Kashmiri terrorist leader who was killed in Pakistan Occupied Territory. In March, a top commander of the banned Hizbul Mujahideen was shot dead by unidentified assailants in Pakistan’s Rawalpindi. Bashir Ahmad Peer alias Imtiyaz Alam, who hailed from Jammu and Kashmir’s Kupwara district, had been living in Pakistan for more than 15 years. He was accused of getting Zakir Musa, chief commander of the Ansar Gazwat-ul-Hind, an offshoot of al-Qaeda in Kashmir, killed in May 2019. In February, unidentified gunmen shot dead former Al-Badr Mujahideen commander Syed Khalid Raza in the port city of Karachi in what police described as a targeted attack. Aijaz Ahmad Ahangar, a Kashmiri terrorist functioning as a top commander of the global terror group Islamic State, was found dead in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province earlier this year.

The Intelligence Officer asked how so many top terrorist commanders, groomed and funded by Pakistan, were being killed inside Pakistan or Pakistan Occupied Territories, alluding to the fact that Pakistan might neutralise SFJ’ Pannu to not only blame India but later, claim that a terror attack was retribution by “Khalistani activists” to avenge the murder of Pannu.

Another Intelligence Officer further said that Pakistan has been tying up loose ends to appear as a responsible nation in front of the international community, where it is being singled out, and FATC. To that end, Pannu may seem like a liability alive and an asset dead.

There were, however, certain voices from the Intelligence Community which had a slightly different take. Speaking to OpIndia, one officer said that with the turmoil in Pakistan, the TTP is far more dangerous to the establishment in Pakistan than India is currently. For now, they might not want to kill Pannu and take on India on a global stage. What they might do is merely make some statements trying to take advantage of what Justin Trudeau has said”.

Canada almost certainly will lobby with the West and nations like the USA, France, the UK etc. to condemn India and “raise concerns” about the killing of Nijjar. With India’s rise to a global stage, while leaders congregated in Delhi during G20 and shook hands, barring perhaps France and Israel, not too many nations are happy. With Trudeau’s popularity dwindling and his political future becoming uncertain, it remains to be seen if Western nations weigh into the controversy that his comments have stirred. India, on its part, is certain to unofficially reach out to other nations and try its best to ensure no further amplification of the baseless allegations. It remains to be seen how the international community will deal with Trudeau’s baseless rant, however, the only nation that is sure to ride the tide is Pakistan.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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Nupur J Sharma
Nupur J Sharma
Editor-in-Chief, OpIndia.

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