Canadians are beginning to realize the threat posed by the Khalistan movement to their country. A report, ‘Khalistan: A Project of Pakistan,’ released by the McDonald Laurier Institute, authored by journalist Terry Milewski, says that Canada’s security community realized in 2018 that violent extremists seeking Khalistan not just pose a threat to India but have entered the list of top five threats to Canada as well.
Based in Ottawa, the Macdonald-Laurier Institute calls itself Canada's only truly national public policy think tank which is rigorously independent and non-partisan. The MLI report says that Canada, which has been ignoring the Khalistan threat despite Indian warnings for long, chose to buckle down after an international lobby persuaded Canada to remove references to “Sikh (Khalistani) extremist ideologies and movements,” from the Ministry of Public Safety’s Public Report on the Terrorism Threat to Canada.
The report says that the movement for a separate Sikh nation in India is a geopolitical project nurtured by Pakistan, which threatens the national security of Canada besides India. Giving insight into how successive Pakistan governments have nurtured the dream of creating a separate state for the Sikhs, the report quotes Tarek Fatah as saying: “Bhutto told a group of reporters that Pakistan would tear off a piece of India—Khalistan—to avenge the loss of the 1971 war with India, in which East Pakistan was torn off and turned into independent Bangladesh.
Pakistan will also have a Bangladesh carved out of India,” Bhutto promised, “except it will be on Pakistan’s border.” This bitterness for India, which has remained a leitmotif with Pakistani leaders despite Indian overtures for peace, has continued with the successive governments. The report gives a deep insight into the Pakistani government’s hostile mentality towards India.
It quotes Husain Haqqani, former Pakistani Ambassador to Washington, as saying: “bleeding” India was certainly the main motive, but a second was to create a strategic “buffer” between India and Pakistan. Thirdly, he says, a state of Khalistan would “end India’s land access to Kashmir,” to the north—another key interest for the Pakistani leadership. Interestingly, the report says that Pakistan’s actions in keeping the Khalistan cause burning is causing harm to Canada because the Khalistan movement has little traction in India's Punjab.
Therefore, to keep the Khalistan fires burning, Pakistan is trying to arouse the homeland sentiment among the Sikhs in Canada, including cultivating people known for their terror-related activity.
The MLI report also takes notice of the fact that Khalistan is a non-issue with Sikhs in India as well in other parts of the world. However, the case for holding a referendum in year 2020 for creating an independent homeland for the Sikhs has resulted in undermining the security of Canada. Highlighting this aspect, the report says: “… the referendum provides oxygen that fuels extremist ideologies, radicalizes young Canadians, wreaks havoc on reconciliation, and usurps legislatures."
Ujjal Dossanjh, former British Columbia premier and former federal Liberal cabinet minister, has been at the forefront in Canada and India trying to warn the governments about the harm this movement is doing to the Sikhs in the two countries. In the foreword to this report, Dossanjh and Shuvaloy Majumdar – MLI Program Director, say that the mere suggestion of creating a separate country for Sikhs “is a backward idea from a backward time.
It is a proposal without economic or democratic logic, unloved by the very Punjabis whose lives it would most directly affect. It is a fantasy rooted in religious bigotry and chauvinism, kept alive in Canada by thugs and political hustlers unbothered by the innocent lives that have been lost in its name. It is a proposal hostile to Canada’s interest in seeing a united and prosperous India, and in that sense, threatens not just one country, but two.”
Giving an example of Pakistan's duplicity in fanning the Khalistan movement, the report points out that the Khalistan map "does not reach one inch into traditional Sikh lands in Pakistan… even Nankana Sahib, sacred birthplace of Guru Nanak… Pakistan wants the Sikhs to be free, but not in Pakistan.” The report, which is gaining eyeballs in India comes at a time when the Government of India is cracking down on the referendum which has been launched from the Western countries.
The MLI report also traces the people behind numerous acts of violence and finds that many with roots in Canada had visited Pakistan. Veteran journalist Terry Milewski who has worked on the report lays stress on the fact that the Khalistan project is actively managed by Pakistan with intent to harm India but is damaging Canada also due to its focus on extremism and terrorism..