Raheel Sharif departs for Riyadh to lead military alliance after govt issues
Retired army chief Gen Raheel Sharif has left for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to head a 41-nation military alliance, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said on Friday.
Media reports suggested that the former chief of army staff was granted approval to serve as head of the alliance for three years.
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif told Geo News that Sharif had been “given permission to head the military alliance after completion of all legal formalities and requirements” by the federal government.
A military source, while speaking to Dawn.com, said approval for Raheel Sharif’s departure had also been granted by General Headquarters Rawalpindi according to established procedures.
Sharif had departed for Riyadh earlier today on a special aircraft and was accompanied by his wife and mother on the flight.
It was not immediately clear if the government had discussed its decision with opposition parties, which recently expressed serious misgivings regarding the issue in light of the possibility that the alliance may be used against Iran.
The news also seemed to go against what the defence minister himself had assured Parliament of on April 13.
Responding to a call to attention notice, Asif had informed the house that the Saudi government would hold a grand meeting in May, where it would unveil the alliance’s Terms of Reference (ToR).
“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and former COAS Gen Raheel Sharif will attend the event,” he had said.
He had further said that the former COAS would formally apply for an NOC after the ToR was made public.
He also said that the ToR and the aims and objectives of the alliance would be presented to Parliament before a formal decision would be made on whether Pakistan should become a part of it or not.