Stating that the India-Canada relations are going through a “difficult phase”, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Sunday that the clause of parity is very much provided for by the Vienna Convention and India had to invoke it, because of the “continuous interference” in domestic affairs by Canadian personnel. He further said that India had to stop issuing visas in Canada because it was not safe for the Indian diplomats to work there amid continuous threats and extremism.
Addressing the event, Jaishankar said, “There’s this whole issue of parity that the size of how many diplomats there are of one country versus how many diplomats there are of the other country. Parity is very much provided for by the Vienna Convention, which is the relevant international rule on this. But in our case, we invoked parity because we had concerns about continuous interference in our affairs by Canadian personnel. We haven’t made much of that public”. “My sense is over a period of time more stuff will come out and people will understand why we had the kind of discomfort with many of them which we did,” the EAM added.
Last week, Canada pulled 41 diplomats from India, after New Delhi had conveyed its concerns over parity in diplomatic strength. Ottawa also halted its visa and consular services in Chandigarh, Mumbai, and Bengaluru consulates. Canada had accused India of violating the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Responding to this, the Ministry of External Affairs said no international norms were violated in India seeking parity in the mutual diplomatic presence in New Delhi and Ottawa.
The EAM further said that India-Canada relations are going through a “difficult phase” and New Delhi has problems with a “certain segment” of Ottawa’s politics. “The relationship right now is going through a difficult phase. But I do want to say the problems we have are with a certain segment of Canadian politics and the policies which flow from that. Right now the big concern which people have is on visas. Some weeks ago, we stopped issuing visas in Canada because it was no longer safe for our diplomats to go to work to issue visas. So their safety and security was the primary reason we had to temporarily stop the issue of visas. We’re tracking it very closely,” he added. Stating that ensuring the safety and security of diplomats is a crucial aspect of the Vienna Convention, Jaishankar affirmed hope that the situation will improve and the visa services will be resumed.
“My hope, my expectation is that the situation would improve in the sense that our people would have greater confidence in being able to do their basic duty as diplomats. Because ensuring safety and security of diplomats is the most fundamental aspect of the Vienna Convention,” Jaishankar said.
He added, “And right now that is what has in many ways been challenged in Canada that our people are not safe, our diplomats are not safe. So if we see progress there, I would like very much to resume the issue of visas. My hope would be that it would be something which should happen very soon”.
Notably, the ties between India and Canada have been strained after Canadian PM Justin Trudeau in September alleged that the Indian government was behind the fatal shooting of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
However, India has outrightly rejected the claims, calling it ‘absurd’ and ‘motivated’. Also, Canada has yet to provide any public evidence to support the claim about the killing of Nijjar.