China denies pressuring Pak to put Hafiz Saeed under arrest

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 – gleefully picked up by the Indian media - that China had imposed pressure on Islamabad which led to the Hafiz Saeed's house arrest, China's foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said 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 Lu during his daily media briefing.

Asked to elaborate, Lu stressed, ''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.

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''.

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.

A recent article on the WeChat website 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.''