By Iram Salim
(Pak Destiny) It is not only Saudi Arabia that acknowledged the experience of former army chief Gen Raheel Sharif and appointed him as chief of 39-country Muslim Military Alliance but the World Economic Forum too has invited him in Davos to speak on terrorism being an excellent expert on the subject.
There are hardly a few globally who are as well qualified as him to speak on the subject. Not only was he the head of a national army locked in a crucial battle with militants, he has also been credited with defining that war, discarding the often half-hearted efforts he had inherited, and launching a real offensive, Dawn says.
No doubt, there was criticism of the way he went about it, especially when he was seen as encroaching upon the civilian government’s space. But that debate, as well as any other objections that might have been raised about the former general’s methods, does not make him any less worthy of the prestigious forum which will see participation by top-level state and private functionaries from across the globe.
Only a few weeks after his retirement as army chief, a question was raised about what kind of a stage would now be fit for Gen Sharif, given his stature and particular experience. Davos has provided one likely answer. The other option that he has been associated with lately is contentious; it is attached to speculation, initially confirmed by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, that Gen Sharif would be heading a Saudi-led 34-member Muslim alliance against terrorism.
The minister’s subsequent ‘clarification’ that the government was not aware of the former general’s appointment has caused confusion. Nevertheless, if the Saudi assignment is indeed being considered, it should be realised in the light of events and politics in an extremely polarised Muslim world, that it would be a very controversial task to undertake and could deepen divisions. On the other hand, forums like Davos provide the world a great opportunity to learn and benefit from the experience of a military commander who has the distinction of leading his army in a war that many are very keen to hear about, ie the modern war against militancy. The choice should be clear.
Raheel’s critics must realise that he is given the honour to head the Muslim countries military because of his vast experience to combat terrorism. – Pak Destiny