The protests in Pakistan seem to be a harbinger of a massive change. Although protests have been a regular feature of Pakistani history, this time things are a bit different. The united front of opposition parties has broken the unsaid rule to never criticize the de-facto ruler, that is, Pakistani army. This is really bad news for China, as the whole Chinese investment is guaranteed by the army and the puppet regime they control.
Although for the half of Pakistan’s existence it has been ruled by the Army, and now too, the government is just the de jure head, but the de facto rulers are still the Pakistani Army. The protests had started from Sindh and have now engulfed the entire political spectrum of Pakistan. All these opposition parties under the banner – Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) – kicked off nationwide protests against PM Imran Khan and even accused the military of interference in Pakistan’s politics.
During the protests, a speech changed everything. On 21st October, speaking remotely from London former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addressed people on the city of Gujranwala attacked the current government and even the Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa. He said, “You rejected the people’s choice in the  elections and installed an inefficient and incapable group of people,” adding, “General Bajwa, you will have to answer for inflated electricity bills, shortage of medicines, and poor people suffering.”
However, the protests were sparked by the decision of the Imran Khan government to develop two Islands of Sindh province. Even though the Sindh government protested by saying that these are the Islands of Sindh, but, the government in Islamabad rejected the Sindh government’s claims over the twin Islands. The people are concerned that the Islands of Bhundar and Dingi will be developed by China and would come under the CPEC authority, which is an extended body of Chinese government in Pakistan for all practical purposes. Pakistan’s Senator Rabbani said, “CPEC Authority has its own funds and bank accounts and how are these operated to pay salaries to employees and make other payments.”
It is not only these things, but the whole of Pakistan seems up in arms against the current government and army. And as all the political parties come together against the de facto military rule, it makes the Pakistani overlords in Beijing shake. They have invested so much in Pakistan that they have sent their army to safeguard the CPEC corridor and if the influence of Pakistani army depletes, it will for sure compromise the Chinese investments.
The army has been deep into corruption and it was an established fact, but, current revelations are about General Asim Bajwa’s corruption scandals and his pizza empire, yes, pizza empire.
All these things have added up to a tipping point and the opposition parties, too, have taken up the matter at the right time. As the country is starting to unite against the government and the army, the Chinese are uber scared of these protests converting into an establishment of a government which is not under the army’s control.
The other matter for Chinese anger is that the protests may spoil the Chinese plan to do a Hambantota in Sindh’s two Islands. And as things stand, the biggest beneficiary of this confrontation will be India. For New Delhi, it kills two birds with one stone. If successful, it will end the hegemony of the army which has been the biggest roadblock for the stability of Indian Subcontinent and it will make sure that China is not able to gain real estate near the Indian border.
The Islands are property of #Sindh . Sindh rejects all claims of Pakistani / Punjabi establishment and central government . We will not allow you to sell our lands to #CCP
Today’s Sindhudesh newspaper.#SindhRejectsIslandOrdinance @CSIS @StateDept @CFR_org @TarekFatah @BBCUrdu pic.twitter.com/TS1CgexWYf
— Zafar Sahito (@widhyarthi) October 4, 2020
As such, it looks really a make or break situation for both the political parties and the army. However, the population seems to be on the side of the political parties and it is highly likely that this may be it for the Pakistani Army. As the army falls, so will the Chinese influence in Pakistan, thus, it seems to be the beginning of the end of China’s Pakistan gamble.