Defence Minister Khawaja Asif on Friday confirmed that former Army Chief General (retd) Raheel Sharif has been appointed to a Saudi-led 39-nation military alliance of Islamic countries to combat terrorism.
Raheel Sharif has been made the captain of the Saudi alliance. Did he do this after asking the government?” asked Hussain, to which Asif replied: “I do not know the details. This was finalised only two or three days ago, so I will not comment much on this.”
he minister said the decision to appoint the retired general, who spearheaded a campaign against militants at home, was taken with the consent of both the Army’s General Headquarters and the government of Pakistan.
“No, definitely our government’s consent must have been part of this,” he replied when asked if the decision was taken in Riyadh or Islamabad.
The defence minister further said that “all proper clearances are taken” in such decisions.
“Right now, [I’m not sure] what is the shape or tenure of this…but this was ongoing for some time. You know, a 34 country alliance was formed. The prime minister also went there and a joint exercise took place.
“Now the alliance has grown from 34 nations to 39, with the inclusion of Turkey, Malaysia, and other countries. I think, without any exception, the entire Ummah should be part of this,” he said.
According to rules in Pakistan, retired army chiefs have a two-year restriction that bar them from even giving media interviews and public speeches for two years after their stepping down.
But Asif suggested that all clearances had been taken in this case.
“Within two years if there is any retired general or those who have served in the security forces, if they take any new appointment, even within the government, there is clearance for even that,” he said.