Pannun Indictment: Is it India's "Incubator Babies" Moment?

The Department of Justice indictment on Pannun, the high-profile US officials' visits, and strange geopolitical realignments paints an intriguing picture. We will analyze all the events and actions to make sense.

Pannun Indictment: Is it India's "Incubator Babies" Moment?
Image by 12138562O from Pixabay
“Her contempt for me was so strong, that it became infectious, and I caught it.” ― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

The quality of any analysis is predicated on only one thing.


Ever deepening ones. Relentless.

When we give in to our laziness and make up some narrative, we lose the benefit of effective and correct action.

So ask questions. Specifically in geopolitics. Go beyond the prevalent narrative from the "paid and bought" media props.

The picture that emerges is remarkably different from what is shown to us.

The Indo-US relationship - or rather a mess of it - has always been a mystery for a sane mind. We try to decipher the current state.

Please Contribute to Drishtikone

What we do takes a lot of work. So, if you like our content and value the work that we are doing, please do consider contributing to our expenses. Choose the USD equivalent amount in your own currency you are comfortable with.

The Fanciful Indictment

The Interpreter cryptically says in its essay on December 12th, 2024 - "Legal documents can send a diplomatic message. But the questions raised might lead to unexpected turns."

This is what the article says.

Source: India indicted? Unravelling an alleged assassination plot in America / Lowy Institute

To understand the scenario, let us go through the entire sequence of events. Specifically the interactions between Indian and US officials.

How it Went Downhill

Here is a chronological run down.

  • In early August 2023, Jake Sullivan talked about it with India's NSA Ajit Doval.
  • Within a week, CIA Director William Burns came to India and gave the message to Head of India's intelligence agency R&AW, Ravi Sinha.
"The Washington Post reported that CIA director William Burns visited India in early August and told head of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) Ravi Sinha that "India needed to investigate [the plot] and hold those responsible accountable, and that the United States needed an assurance that this would not happen again", reported Washington Post citing a senior Biden administration official." (Source: India Today)
  • US President Joe Biden brought it up with India's PM Narendra Modi during the G-20 held in New Delhi on 9–10 September 2023
  • Then Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Sullivan again talked about it with India's Foreign Minister Dr. Jaishankar when he visited the US from 22-30 September 2023.
  • Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III visited India and met Dr. Jaishankar and India's PM Modi on November 9th, 2023
The defense leaders will also participate in an expanded dialogue alongside Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Indian Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar in New Delhi. Following that meeting, Austin and Blinken will meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The visit comes amid significant strides between India and the U.S. in driving defense industrial cooperation and defense technology innovation. (Source: Austin Arrives in New Delhi Amid Strides in U.S., India Defense Innovation / US Department of Defense)
  • The indictment filed in New York District Court by the Department of Justice on November 29th, 2023
An Indian government official directed an unsuccessful plot to assassinate a Sikh separatist on U.S. soil, the U.S. Justice Department said on Wednesday, in announcing charges against a man accused of orchestrating the attempted murder. (Source: Reuters)
Source: Sealed Indictment in US District Court, Southern District of NY
  • On December 4th, 2023 - Principal Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer led a U.S. delegation to New Delhi. There he met with the Indian Deputy National Security Advisor Vikram Misri. 
Principal Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer led a U.S. delegation to New Delhi on December 4 for an intersessional review of the U.S-India Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET) with Indian Deputy National Security Advisor Vikram Misri. The iCET is a major milestone in the U.S.-India partnership, which is increasingly defined by strategic security and technology cooperation.
  • On December 12th, 2023 FBI director Christopher Wray came to India
FBI director Christopher Wray is in India this week for a trip aimed at strengthening security cooperation and deepening a partnership. But it comes in the wake of a major law enforcement issue between the two nations – one far more sinister and with the potential to cause cracks within that alliance. Just two weeks ago, the United States accused an Indian government official of being involved in a conspiracy to kill an American citizen on its home soil. (Source: FBI chief in India following explosive US assassination plot indictment / CNN)

So, it is quite obvious that there is a whole group of American top brass descending on New Delhi or meeting with the Indian Prime Minister, National Security Advisor, Foreign Minister, and Defence Minister to double down on this one case.

Different Takes

Some of the commentators regularly aligned with the extreme left and anti-Modi groups have raised the ante on these engagements and the "seriousness" of this case. Sushant Singh, a lecturer at Yale and Consulting Editor at the controversial magazine Caravan calls it a "pretty strong case" just because the Department of Justice brought it.

The case looks pretty strong, as most Department of Justice cases are. Gupta should be prepared for the worst, and so should the Modi government be. Gupta is a dispensable non-entity. The real issue here is the Modi government, which had mocked and dismissed similar charges of killing levelled by Canadian PM Justin Trudeau. By the time Trudeau spoke in Parliament, Indians knew that the US had a case against them. As per multiple American publications, US President Joe Biden had personally raised the Pannun assassination plot with Narendra Modi during the G-20 Summit in New Delhi. Even before that, his NSA Jake Sullivan had brought his concerns to Modi’s NSA Ajit Doval, in person during a meeting in another country in the region in early August. Within a week of Sullivan’s meeting, CIA Director Nicholas Burns flew to India to deliver the same message to the head of R&AW, Ravi Sinha. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Sullivan raised the issue again when External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar visited Washington in September. Jaishankar continued to dismiss the Canadian allegations in his usual brusque manner from various public platforms during that trip. (Source: "With murder plot allegations by the US, India stands diminished" / Deccan Herald)

Leaving alone the fantastical story that the indictment writers wrote where the Indian establishment comes out as a bumbling lot that is playing into the hands of the US intelligence that has laid a trap, the fact is that DoJ's ideological independence and legal strength is not above reproach.

Those who have been closely following US politics would know that DoJ is not some "holy cow". Its indictment of Trump wasn't fool-proof and in fact, as per Trump's Presidential rival "reek of politicization."

And that is the new American reality. Every branch and institution that should have been independent of political pressure has now been politically compromised. Toward a more loony left Democratic fringe spectrum.

"I did read that indictment, actually. I bring my legally trained eyes to this as well, there were a lot of selective omissions of both fact and law from that indictment," Ramaswamy warned. "Not one mention of the Presidential Records Act. Not one mention of the 2012 case, the leading federal case that interpreted the Presidential Records Act in the context of the Clinton sock drawer case, selective quotes from Trump on the 2016 campaign trail without once mentioning after the 2016 election, his commitment to not pursue Hillary, executive orders not binding on a president – that’s how the classification scheme is actually set." (Source: "Ramaswamy says public owed 'maximum' transparency on DOJ, whether rivals would pardon Trump" / Fox News)

So this doesn't make any sense.

Then we have Nikkei's assessment of the issue. Which is, as is usual in the colonial-minded European elite, India's "Democratic" credentials.

The revelation that U.S. authorities thwarted an alleged conspiracy to assassinate a Sikh separatist on American soil – and that the Indian government could have been involved in the plot – has instantly underscored a fundamental question regarding the grouping: Is it a set of like-minded democracies who share common values, or is it a quartet bound by strategic interests, namely common skepticism toward China? (Source: Quad faces reality check as alleged plot to kill U.S. Sikh dents trust / Nikkei Asia / November 27th, 2023)

But wait, isn't Nikkei Asia Japanese? Well, the facade of it maybe. But inherently it is an extension of the London-based Financial Times.

Source: Wikipedia/Nikkei Asia

Financial Times is the same publication that "broke the news" about this Pannun case on November 22nd, 2023. (Source: Financial Times)

The questions that most Indians, legitimately, are asking is from what moral authority does the US come pontificating on sovereignty and democratic values?

CIA has repeatedly acted rogue and even eliminated India's top scientists at a whim! Just because it did not suit their worldview.

Blowing an Entire Plane to Assassinate India's Nuclear Scientist - the CIA Way

Homi Jehangir Bhabha, was an Indian nuclear physicist popularly known as the "father of the Indian nuclear program."

In the book titled Conversations with the Crow, which comprises the transcripts of writer Gregory Douglas' conversation with former CIA officer Robert Crowley, Crowley shares how the CIA had blown up an entire plane just to eliminate India's nuclear physicist Homi Bhabha.

Robert Crowley was the second in command of the CIA's Directorate of Operations (in charge of covert operations), as recorded in a book by Gregory Douglas.

That is all one needs to know about "like-minded democracies with shared common values" rhetoric.

Doubling Down by the US and its History of Lies

Now the USCIRF, the body which has made a business out of anti-Hindu stances while dealing with India, is now gunning for sanctions against India calling the alleged plot against Pannun "silencing of religious minorities and human rights defenders."

Source: US watchdog on religious freedom cites Nijjar, Pannun plots, calls for India curbs / Times of India

The so-called "human rights defender" that USCIRF is so strongly batting for was threatening to bomb a civilian flight of Air India.


If this was the first time that the US agencies were doing something obviously and outlandishly bizarre it would have been mistaken. But the truth is that the US has used false accusations as a matter of routine geopolitical weapon to attack the governments and rulers they do not approve of.

On October 10, 1990, a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl named Nayirah (no one knew of her full name). She convinced everyone that Saddam Hussein, who had attacked Kuwait, was a monster!

"I volunteered at the al-Addan hospital," Nayirah said. "While I was there, I saw the Iraqi soldiers come into the hospital with guns, and go into the room where ... babies were in incubators. They took the babies out of the incubators, took the incubators, and left the babies on the cold floor to die."(Source)

The Congressional group led by Tom Lantos, a California Democrat, and John Edward Porter, an Illinois Republican, stated that for security purposes (protecting her family from attacks) Nayirah's identity would be kept secret. Well, she turned out to be the daughter of the Kuwaiti Ambassador to the U.S., Saud Nasir al-Sabah! She may not even have been there. The testimony regarding "incubator babies" was all a made-up story. (Source: "Remember Nayirah, Witness for Kuwait?" / New York Times)

The list of falsehoods - the Aluminum tubes, the WMDs, the Russian collusion, the Hunter Biden laptop, and other such stories are the staple of the American establishment's scriptwriters.

Serious Questions on US Intentions

The serious questions one needs to ask are:

  1. Is Pannun (or any Khalistani terrorist) worth the trouble for the US to destroy its relationship with India and specifically with the Modi establishment which looks set at winning the next election?
  2. Has India's importance vis-a-vis China changed in the US eyes' to subvert Quad for Pannun?

These are important questions. Let us sum them up properly.

Is the importance of Quad that frivolous for the US establishment that it will sacrifice the geopolitical structure just to protect a known loony and retarded terror loose cannon like Pannun?

Quad was created to address larger geopolitical battles. Battles that will change the very balance of the world. A loony idiot, even if the DoJ indictment is correct despite its rather uncharitable and colonial take in its rather shoddy script, cannot be and should not be worth so much for the US establishment that it subverts the most important Indo-Pacific alliance so easily.

The only sane commentary on this subject came from Professor Dr. Muqtedar Khan, a professor in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Delaware. He was at the Qamar Cheema show. While analyzing the whole issue, he seemed puzzled.

At one point he quips - "even if India had actually killed, not made a plot to kill, a dozen Khalistanis, would that have been worth the trouble for the US to damage Quad and its relationship with India?"

In the pure hard-politic world, that is the question that needs to be asked. He then goes on to elaborate on his confusion and proffer his prediction (based on some off-the-record discussions) on what might be the real reason.


Per Prof Dr. Muqtedar Khan, the real reason is something else and this whole Pannun question is being constructed just as a cover for that. Otherwise, how do you explain such high-profile visits by US officials related to the Defense and Intelligence establishment?

And, the case which can be used as an excuse by the US establishment is being used to drive home the message - "Do this ......., Or else...." by these US officials.

The real reason per the professor is that the US wants bases in India and India is refusing. Khan's source may be a Congress politician for one of them did ask this question on his X account in September after the Indo-US joint statement.

Manish Tewari X Post

It was sparsely reported in the mainstream press.

US Military base on Indian soil? Congress questions Centre
Amid the ongoing G20 Summit, Congress leader Manish Tiwari targeted the centre for the recently released Indo-US joint statement. He also asked for clarification on weather the government is planning to provide a military base to United States soldiers on Indian soil

But given how Congress moves in tandem with the anti-India subversive forces in the West and Pakistan, it is no surprise that its leaders started this line of questioning some time back.

Sudden Activation of Pakistani Belligerence?

This question assumes even greater importance if you see the sudden interest in Pakistan by American security, intelligence, and "regime-change" experts.

Pakistan Army Chief General Asim Munir and ISI Chief Lieutenant General Nadeem Anjum met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defence General Llyod J. Austin, Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff General Charles Q. Brown, and Deputy National Security Adviser Jonathan Finer.

They met on December 15th, 2023.

Victoria Nuland is known as Washington's "regime change Karen". A reputation she built during her work (subversion?) in Ukraine.

Source: Mearsheimer, John J. “Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault: The Liberal Delusions That Provoked Putin.” Foreign Affairs, vol. 93, no. 5, 2014, pp. 77–89. JSTOR, Accessed 17 Dec. 2023.

So what was this regime change expert doing along with the Secretary of Defense and State in meetings with the ISI Chief and Pak Army Chief?

Here are some photographs that also underscore that this meeting was not just to rally up the rabidly anti-India Pakistani regime by the Intelligence, Defense, and regime change American brass, but was done in a "not so covert way" as well!

It was an open "cocking a snook" at the Indian establishment.

The impact of this meeting was immediately visible in the local political discourse.

Just last week Pakistan's caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar made a speech within Pakistan that not only was high on jingoism but also gave the message to India that "a war between India and Pakistan was imminent" (jang to hogi)

Pak PM Kakar speech

He talks about the imminent war and also a promise to wage 300 wars on India. He calls out India's PM and Home Minister specifically and rants about BJP and RSS in general. He then assures his countrymen and women that Pakistan does not need India for anything.

Yes, it was for local consumption but since every PM's voice is a product of the Pakistan Army's mindset, the new belligerence is quite intriguing.


Just in April 2023, Pakistan's former Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa admitted that Pakistan lacked the ammunition and economic strength to fight against India.

Source: 'Pakistan Army no match for Indian Army...' Pak journalists reveal Gen Bajwa's remarks / Times of India

That's a long distance in terms of "confidence". Specifically when the Foreign Exchange reserves in the country have been precariously low. Currently at $7.04 billion!

Source: Pakistan’s central bank reserves increase $21mn, now stand at $7.04bn / Business Recorder

So the obvious question to one's mind is -

Is Pakistan an "assassin on hire" for the US against India?

Putting Everything in Context

Quite honestly, things have taken an interesting turn after Xi Jinping visited San Francisco in mid-November and the Xi Jinping-Joe Biden summit on November 15th.

Source: China expert, present at Xi visit to US, aims to cool tensions / Cornell Chronicle

After a couple of years of economic and military aggression between US and China, where China had moved close to Russia, we saw a seemingly sudden U-turn in relations.

Is proximity to China and consequent pushing back of any belligerence from that establishment toward the US the reason for the sudden change in the tone of the US concerning India?

If that is indeed the reason, then the biggest concern from this whole new geopolitical chess game should be in Russian President's mind.

What is Russia's later ally, China, really up to?

As for India, putting all its options in the American court would have been suicidal. And that is obvious now. But that also comes with consequences as we are witnessing.

In the near future, no one can be trusted. One will need to play every relationship minutely and strategically at the same time. Close calibrations and fine discernments are the need of the hour.

Let us put the real question in another rather skeptical way:

Will the Indo-US relationship survive another Modi term and a Democratic win in 2024?

The real challenge seems to be coming from that side of the US political spectrum.

Video Corner: From Breaking News to Breaking Barriers - Palki Sharma

Palki Sharma's rise as Indian journalism's face globally is an interesting and good happenstance.

She is articulate, insightful, and in her own delightful way confrontational. Confrontational, not as in the loud manner that most Indian, specifically male journalists are. But in tone and narrative brilliance.

This is an interesting rare interview of her about her journey, work and women empowerment. Worth watching!

Great! You’ve successfully signed up.

Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.

You've successfully subscribed to Drishtikone - Online Magazine on Geopolitics and Culture from Indian Perspective.

Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.

Success! Your billing info has been updated.

Your billing was not updated.