ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: Former Chief of Army Staff General (retd) Raheel Sharif departed for Riyadh on Friday after the federal government granted him permission to head a military alliance of Muslim countries led by Saudi Arabia.
Speaking to TV Channel, Federal Defence Minister Khawaja Asif confirmed that the federal government had given Sharif the No Objection Certificate after completion of all legal formalities and requirements.
Asif said the former top commander was given the NOC after approval from the Pakistan Army’s General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi.
The defence minister had said earlier that Pakistan had received a written request from the Saudi government for employing Gen (retd) Sharif as head of the military alliance.
Our correspondent in Lahore confirmed that Sharif departed for Riyadh earlier today on a special aircraft from Riyadh which had arrived in Lahore to receive him.
Sharif was accompanied by his wife and mother on the flight.
With a Joint Comand Centre headquartered in Riyadh, the coalition includes Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Tunisia, Sudan, Malaysia, Egypt, Yemen and other Muslim countries.
Saudi Arabia says the alliance, which noticeably lacks the presence of Iran, will “coordinate and support military operations to fight terrorism”.
Last month, Pakistan’s National Security Advisor (NSA) Nasir Janjua said that Gen (retd) Raheel Sharif spearheading the Saudi military alliance would bring unity to the Muslim world.
The national security adviser had said that the structure of the alliance had not been decided so far and that in May, the advisory board of defence ministers of member countries would attend a meeting held in this regard.
“When General (Retd) Raheel Sharif joins he will define a structure,” Janjua had said, speaking at a conference in Islamabad.
Janjua stressed that, with his experience, General (retd) Sharif would remove misunderstandings among Muslim countries. “Iran and other countries opposed of the alliance will also benefit from this.”-Web Desk