China has dismissed as “shocking” and “baseless” a 24 May report in The Hindu, that claimed that Chinese President Xi Jinping has told Pakistan PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to shift Hafiz Saeed to a West Asian country.

The controversy comes amid increasing international pressure to take action against Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) co-founder, who is the alleged mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack.

What Did the Report Say?

The Hindu report stated that the suggestion to move Saeed came up during a meeting between Xi and Abbasi on the sidelines of a Boao Forum for Asia held in China in April.

The report quoted a source close to the Pakistan PM as saying:

"At a 35-minute meeting, at least 10 minutes of the discussion dealt with Saeed. The Chinese President was keen on pressing the Prime Minister to find an early solution to keep Saeed away from the limelight." - Source close to the Pakistani PM, as reported by The Hindu

Following the meeting, the Pakistani PM spoke to a legal team regarding the “solution” and the issue is expected to move forward when the next government in the country takes over, the report further stated. Abbasi’s tenure ends on 31 May, following which the polls will take place in July.

China Calls Report ‘Shocking, Baseless’

Reacting to the report, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson's office said on Thursday, 24 May, that the report that Xi has asked Abbasi to relocate the Pakistan-based Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief to a West Asian country was "shocking and baseless".

"It is shocking and baseless that's all we can say," the official told PTI in Beijing.

Saeed had been placed under house arrest in Pakistan last year, but was eventually released in November 2017. Along with India, the US and the United Nations have also deemed Saeed a global terrorist.

The US State Department had on 18 May, expressed its concern about the continued freedom of the JuD chief in relation to the controversial statement put forth by the Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif.

Referring to the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, Sharif, in a 12 May interview with Dawn, had said: “Militant organisations are active. Call them non-state actors, should we allow them to cross the border and kill 150 people in Mumbai? Explain it to me. Why can’t we complete the trial?”. However, the former Pakistani PM had later sought to play down his statement.