China denies putting pressure on Pakistan for Saeed’s arrest

Sections of the Pakistani media have been reporting that China has been imposing pressure on Islamabad to act against Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed (in the picture) and Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar.   | Photo Credit: REUTERS

China on Friday signalled that it had not imposed any pressure on Pakistan to put Hafiz Saeed under house arrest, but has decided to send a top diplomat to Islamabad following the detention of the suspected mastermind of the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008.

Asked to comment on news reports from Pakistan that China had imposed pressure on Islamabad, which led to the Hafiz Saeed’s house arrest, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang indicated that Beijing supported international cooperation on counter-terrorism with Pakistan, provided it is conducted with Islamabad’s consent.

“China supports the independent strategies made by Pakistan on counter-terrorism and engaging in international cooperation on counter-terrorism. China supports the international community in conducting cooperation on that and we maintain that it must be based on mutual respect,” said Mr. Lu during his daily media briefing.

Asked to elaborate, Mr. Lu stressed that, “China supports the Pakistani government in independently making decisions on counter-terrorism and international cooperation on counter-terrorism.”

Sections of the Pakistani media have been reporting that China has been imposing pressure on Pakistan to act against Saeed and Masood Azhar, the head of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) group, accused of marshalling the Pathankot air base attack, last year.

Mr. Lu confirmed that a Vice Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping, who is in charge of counter-terrorism, will “shortly” travel to Pakistan to “discuss counter-terrorism efforts.”

Re-calibrating support?

Postings on the Chinese social media suggest that there is an ongoing debate within the Chinese establishment about re-calibrating Beijing’s undiluted support to Pakistan on issues related to terrorism.

In a lengthy blog post on his WeChat account, China’s former consul general in Kolkata, Mao Siwei focused on two major terror events — the attack on the Pathankot air base, and the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, where the investigation has persistently pointed a finger at the Pakistan based Jamaat-ud- Dawa, led by Hafiz Saeed, as the culprit.

“China cherishes the strategic partnership with our iron brother [Pakistan], but please do not stir up issues,” says Mr. Mao in his blog.

In his posting, the former diplomat refers to an article by Tariq Khosa, the former director general of Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), published in Dawn newspaper on August 3, 2015. The article said that the trial court in Pakistan has not approved obtaining the voice samples of the alleged commander and his deputies of the 26/11 attacks for comparison with voices intercepted and recorded by the authorities in India.

The article highlights that the investigation in the 26/11 case has so far established the location of the camp where the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks were trained, the trawlers that were used for transportation, as well as the money trail used to finance the operation. Besides, the operations room from where the raids were directed has been identified and secured by the investigations. The alleged commander and his deputies have been identified and arrested.

Corridor of interest

A recent article in the same newspaper titled “China, not America, likely behind Hafiz Saeed’s arrest,” linked the house arrest to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). “Hafiz Saeed doesn’t pose a direct threat to China, but so long as he walks free he poses a direct threat to India-Pakistan relations,” says the article. It adds: “The last thing China wants as it pushes forward with CPEC is an India-Pakistan relationship on tenterhooks — not to mention on a war-footing, as was the case for several weeks last year.”

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Printable version | Jul 29, 2021 3:50:31 PM |

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