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The discovery of India’s espionage activities in Australia has strained diplomatic relations and raised concerns about international security and sovereignty.

Recent comments by Mike Burgess, an Australian intelligence chief, have once again caught the attention of those closely monitoring the activities of India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) beyond its borders. Indian spies were allegedly involved in espionage, gathering sensitive information, and monitoring Indian citizens in Australia.

Their mission also included forming bonds with current and former government officials who hold prominent positions and wield significant influence in state affairs. Charged with attempting to spy on sensitive infrastructures such as airports and various residential and commercial areas, the Australian Security and Intelligence Organization (ASIO) apprehended these Indian agents on April 30.

This incident signifies much more than a simple breach of security; it raises numerous questions about the motives of the Modi government, which has been known to maintain a secret network of spies in countries such as Canada, Qatar, the United States, and now Australia. Through RAW, India has clandestinely established spy networks in Australia, compromising the nation’s security by gaining unauthorized access to important organizations and confidential information.

Internal security and diplomatic issues have arisen, leading to the expulsion of multiple Indian officials, thus eroding the trust between the two nations. This operation also aimed at influencing the Indian diaspora in Australia through espionage. Expatriates are now portrayed as potential threats to local communities, with their activities and loyalties under scrutiny. This situation could escalate conflicts with local authorities and raise concerns about the radicalization of the diaspora.

The spies paid particular attention to a foreign embassy and state police services, reflecting a broader scenario where infiltrators undermine government authority and weaken the sovereignty of host nations. Other internal costs include increased security measures within the country and deteriorating relations with affected countries. In one case, spies managed to ensnare an individual with access to an Australian government security clearance, posing a significant threat to national defense.

The Australian government expelled diplomats and Indian officials from the Morrison government after identifying the spy networks. Such betrayal of trust harms political relationships between states and goes against the principles of international law and norms.

Recently, in Qatar, six Indian navy personnel were sentenced to death on charges of attempting to spy for Israel but were then released following intense diplomatic efforts. Such incidents highlight the potential security threats posed by espionage, which can have far-reaching regional consequences.

The reported murder of Khalistan dissident Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada demonstrated a new Indian assertiveness in foreign policy, characterized by aggressive actions in foreign countries that disregard host country laws. An investigative story disclosed that an Indian RAW official, Vikram Yadav, was involved in a plot to assassinate the pro-Khalistan militant strategist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in the United States, ordered by the ex-RAW chief Samant Goel.

India’s role in abetting the brutal killings of Kashmiris in Pakistan has caused unease among Western allies, particularly concerning international law and sovereignty. The methods adopted by India in these espionage cases have prompted debates and concerns over sovereignty, norms, and trust among global players, leading to diplomatic crises, strained relationships, and erosion of international reputation.

Whenever international firms target domestic industries, they risk damaging diplomatic relations, undermining strategic partnerships, and losing their reputations on the world stage. Western partners may reconsider the supply of security, defense cooperation, counterterrorism cooperation, and information exchange.

Foreign groups that attack American firms and alliance networks could seriously damage their reputations. Western nations may reevaluate alliances in military, counterterrorism, and security. Indian policy should align with diplomatic attempts to restore confidence, and U.S. foreign policy advisors should work with other nations to protect sovereignty and security.

India should pursue its aims and goals while acting in an acceptable and legal manner in the spirit of international law. It has been argued that while seeking innovation, stability should be accorded a higher priority than short-term gains, as this is key to maintaining credibility and, therefore, client trust.

Abdul Mussawer Safi is an author at various platforms such as Modern Diplomacy, Kashmir Watch, and Eurasia Review. He is pursuing a Bachelor's degree in International Relations from National Defense University. He has a profound interest in world politics, especially in the regional dynamics of South Asia. His academic strengths are critical and SWOT analysis.