By Sarmad Ali
(Pak Destiny) Defence Minister Khawaja Asif has taken a “U-Turn” on former army chief Gen (retd) Raheel Sharif’s joining the Saudi-led 39-nation military alliance saying he has yet to seek government’s permission for this slot.
“Gen (retd) Raheel Sharif did not submit any application for a no objection certificate (NOC). There’s nothing in our notice,” the defence minister said in response to senate chairman Raza Rabbani’s query. Asif said the former army chief had returned to Pakistan after performing Umrah in Saudi Arabia and if he applies for the NOC, then it will be decided according to law, the Express Tribune reported.
Rabbani had also asked the ministry of foreign affairs to clarify what would be the implications of the decision in terms of foreign policy and its effect on a decision, taken at the joint sitting of parliament, not to become part of any such alliance.
Khawaja Asif told Geo and 24 News last Friday that the former army chief had been appointed the commander of the Saudi-led military coalition “with the consent of the government”.
Some politicians, retired army officers, and intellectuals have questioned the decision of Gen Raheel to join a foreign ‘controversial’ military alliance. Iran is not included in the grouping which appeared as a vague attempt to forge a Sunni Muslim alliance against Shia Iran to curtail its influence in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and rest of the Middle East.
Pakistan is being dragged into the politics of Middle East which can be detrimental to the country. Later, Pakistan confirmed its participation in the alliance, but had said that the scope of its participation would be defined after Riyadh shared the details of the coalition it was assembling.
Pakistan has been caught between a devil and deep see situation. Khawaja Asif has made things more complicated by issuing a statement without consulting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. – Pak Destiny