Pakistan media has speculated that the house arrest of Jamaat-ud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed was consequent to the warning issued by the United States. A media report said that American officials warned Pakistan to rein in Saeed or risk sanctions.
Saeed in a video released shortly after his detention claimed that Pakistan was obliged to act because of U.S. President Donald Trump’s warm relationship with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, an article published in The Dawn speculated that if any external pressure compelled Pakistan to place Saeed under house arrest then it’s more likely to have come from Beijing than Washington.
The article said that Trump has been in office for less than two weeks and beyond his rapid-fire issuance of executive orders, his presidency appears frenzied and disorganised—not to mention hamstrung by numerous unfilled senior diplomatic and national security posts. And with this, the Trump administration has too much on its plate to be focusing laser-like on Pakistan.
You may also like to watch
The article said that in a telling yet underreported development several weeks ago, China’s former consul general in Kolkata published a blog post calling on Beijing to rethink its default policy of blocking Indian attempts to have Jaish-e-Mohammed leader Masood Azhar sanctioned by the United Nations. This all makes good sense when we think about the high stakes of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). For Beijing (as for Islamabad), rapid and sustained progress on this project is a core strategic imperative, the article said.
It adds that even though 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. The last thing China wants as it pushes forward with CPEC is an India-Pakistan relationship on tenterhooks. China has long leaned on Pakistan to tackle terror more robustly — and it’s arguably gotten results. Some have speculated that Beijing prodding played a role in Pakistan’s decision to launch the Zarb-i-Azb operation to fight militancy.
The anti-state militants targeted in that offensive had not only terrorised Pakistan but they had also posed a threat to Chinese investments and workers in Pakistan. In short, we should never underestimate China’s leverage in Pakistan including its ability to get Pakistan to do things it often resists, said the article while questioning as to why Pakistan did not act weeks or months ago if the decision was influenced by China.
It said that this house arrest, at least in part, can also be read as an effort by Pakistan to showcase its counter-terrorism bonafides to the new US administration and to dissuade Trump from adding Pakistan to the list of countries that can’t send their citizens to the United States for 90 days.
The article further says that China has the ability to get Pakistan to go beyond token gestures when it comes to addressing anti-India militancy and unless Pakistan chooses to do some big-time signaling to Washington by keeping Saeed in detention for an extended period.