Pak min defends ex-army chief appointment as coalition head

Former army chief Gen Raheel Sharif

Defence Minsiter Khawaja Asif said the decision to appoint former army chief General Raheel Sharif as head of the 39-nation coalition of Muslim countries is an administrative decision and is not linked to the conflict in Yemen.

However, in a shift from his earlier statement on January 11, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said that General (retd) Raheel Sharif did not seek government's permission before joining the alliance.

The minister said the coalition was against terrorism and not any country.

Asif reiterated that the force is "purely against terrorism" and said, "The decision was taken after much deliberation and I will stand by it in the parliament".

The PTI's move comes after the Pakistan Government gave its approval to General (Retd.) Sharif to lead a 39-nation alliance of Muslim states led by Saudi Arabia by providing him with a No-Objection Certificate (NOC).

"If Raheel takes up the appointment, he will become controversial and I feel it might lessen the respect he has earned", said Baloch.




March 29: Pakistan is pursuing a two faced policy of trying to befriend Iran and at the same time maintaining close ties with Saudi Arabia, according to informed sources and in the process is angering both Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The formation of the alliance, which has its headquarters in Riyadh, was announced by Saudi defense minister and deputy crown prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud at a press conference in 2015.

Iran was not included in the grouping which appeared as a vague attempt to forge a Sunni Muslim alliance against Shiite Iran to curtail its influence in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and rest of the Middle East.

Asif went on to say that a body comprising defence ministers of all member countries of the alliance, to serve as an advisory council, is expected to hold its first meeting in May.

Pakistan was in an unenviable position as it has good ties with both Iran and Saudi Arabia.

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