By Aamir Latif
KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) – Pakistan’s former army chief, General Raheel Sharif has been appointed as commander of the 34-nation Islamic military alliance against terrorism at its headquarters in Saudi capital Riyadh, Pakistan’s defense minister Khawaja Asif confirmed Friday.
In an interview with local Geo TV on Friday, Asif said that General Sharif who had retired in November last year as the chief of the country’s powerful army, a “couple of days ago” assumed his new assignment, for which he was touted since the inception of the alliance in December 2015.
“What I can tell you about this is that he (Gen Sharif) has been given this assignment with the consent and clearance from the (Pakistan) government and the army”, Asif said.
“He (Gen Sharif) cannot take this decision solely at his own. This needs clearance from the government and the army, which he has got,” he went on to say.
Asif, however, did not specifically clarify whether Gen. Sharif had been appointed as commander or military adviser of the alliance.
The Saudi Arabia-led alliance that includes countries like Turkey, Pakistan, Egypt, Malaysia , UAE, and other Gulf and African countries, has been formed “to protect the Islamic nation from the evils of all terrorist groups and organizations,” mainly Daesh.
Iran, however, the Saudi Arabia’s arch rival, has not been made part of the alliance as the two sides differ far deep on regional conflicts from Iraq to Syria, and to Yemen.
Credited by many for improving law and order in the country by launching a relentless military operation against militants in the isolated northwestern tribal belt, Gen. Sharif had refused to accept an extension of his tenure.
Gone viral on social media, a video shows Gen. Sharif surrounded by Saudi guards paying visit to Masjid-a-Nabvi in Madinah with scores of Pakistanis chanting slogans in his favor.
[Photo: Former Pakistan General Raheel Sharif. Photo by US Army by Staff Sgt. Steven Schneider/ Public Domain]