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The recent court verdicts against Chief of Army Staff General Bajwa and General Musharraf shatter the power structure in Pakistan. The masters in Beijing are worried because their investments are now at stake as the guardians of power face exit …. Writes Dr Sakariya Kareem

BEIJING, Oct. 9, 2019 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, capital of China, Oct. 9, 2019. (Xinhua/Liu Weibing/IANS) by .
Chinese President Xi Jinping with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan (File)

The recent activism of the courts in Pakistan, besides being a setback to the all powerful Pakistan Army, has also had reverberations across the Karakoram border, inside China. The leadership of the Communist Party of China, which has assiduously built relationships with the Pak Army, usually resulting in weakening the civilian leadership of the country, had not bargained for the judiciary, of all the pillars of the Pak establishment, to stand up and be counted.

The adverse decision seeking to limit the extension in service given to the present Chief of Army Staff Bajwa, and the even stranger one giving the death penalty to former Chief of Army Staff and former President, Pervez Musharraf, are learnt to have caused concern amongst the mandarins in Beijing.

These are at two levels. The first, within the Ministry of Defence and the Central Military Commission of the communist party, is to suddenly begin racking their brains to assess the impact of the Bajwa decision on the succession in the Pak Army. Over the past couple of years, Chinese defence industry has built up a good relationship with Bajwa and his key officers, never stepping back from wining and dining them, especially on overseas tours. Some of these have been to China, where more than the customary red carpet has been rolled out for him, while others have been for various senior officers, particularly at different air shows – in the UK, France, Dubai and Singapore, among others.

Over the past couple of years, Chinese defence industry has built up a good relationship with Bajwa and his key officers, never stepping back from wining and dining them, especially on overseas tours

With the investment in the hoped for endurance of the Bajwa leadership now looking not so healthy, officials in the Military Intelligence and Foreign Affairs directorates of the Central Military Commission of China have spent the past week poring over bio data of other senior Pak Army commanders. Messages have been sent to the Chinese Defence Attaché office in Islamabad to open lines with prospective successors, even while ensuring that Bajwa does not feel slighted.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan at the rally

The other gap in China’s links with Pakistan is the absence of good relations with the judiciary. The Political and Legal Affairs Commission of the communist party, a shadowy and under-the-radar, but supremely powerful organisation, has been caught unawares with the latest developments. Knowledgeable sources point out to the flurry of communication between Chinese institutions in Pakistan and Beijing in the past week to fill in the gaps. Instructions have also gone out to the large number of Chinese media persons, including from the official Xinhua news agency to tap their local sources and build a profile of the top judges in the Pak Supreme Court.

With these sudden developments, it is expected that there will be greater wooing of the Pak judiciary by ‘relevant’ departments and organisations in China, as it strives to expand its reach – and control – over another key pillar of the Pak establishment. The consequences for Pakistan will be an even stronger hold over the country by China, which already has the ability to influence the political, military and economic sectors of the country.

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