Islamabad – Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif on Friday confirmed that former Chief of Army Staff (Pakistan) Genral (retd) Raheel Sharif has been appointed as the chief of the 39-nation Saudi led Islamic Military Alliance.
Talking in a Geo Tv Show Khwaja Asif disclosed that Raheel Sharif was made as the head of the Islamic military coalition under an agreement which was finalised a few days back. “I do not have enough information at the moment about this agreement,” he added.
The defence minister told that both Pakistani and Saudi governments were in contact in this regard and prime minister Nawaz Sharif was also part of the deliberations.
Khwaja Asif appreciated this development and called it a “Unity for Muslim Ummah”.
Pakistan had initially found itself in the crosshairs of Middle Eastern politics as Saudi Arabia named it as part of its newly formed military alliance of Muslim countries meant to combat terrorism, without first getting its consent.
However, after initial ambiguity, the government had 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.
The alliance is said to have been formed to fight Islamic State militant group and other extremist outfits. Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Tunisia, Sudan, Malaysia, Egypt, Yemen and other Muslim countries are part of the coalition. The Joint Command Centre, headquarters of the military alliance is located in Riyadh.
Raheel Sharif was immensely popular among ordinary Pakistanis and turned himself into a cult hero by restoring relative peace in the country.
Islamic Military Alliance is an intergovernmental military alliance of countries in the Muslim world united around military intervention against ISIS and other counter-terrorist activities. When the coalition was announced there were 34 members; by March 2016 this had risen to 39.
The organization is based at a joint command center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Its creation was first announced by Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Defense, on December 15, 2015.