Pak fmr military chief leaves for Saudi Arabia to head military alliance

Islamabad, April 21, IRNA – Pakistan former army chief General Raheel Sharif has left for Saudi Arabia to head a 41-nation military alliance, several local media reports said on Friday, quoting Defense Minister Khawaja Asif.

According to the reports, the minister said that Sharif was given permission to head the military alliance after completion of all legal formalities and requirements.

He said the former top commander was given the No-Objection Certificate (NOC) after approval from the Pakistan Army's General Headquarters.

Reports quoting sources say General Raheel left for Riyadh from Lahore on Friday after a special plane arrived from the Saudi Arabia to receive him.

Earlier Iran's Ambassador to Pakistan Mehdi Honardoost expressed reservations regarding the appointment of the former Pakistan army chief as head of the Saudi-led military alliance, saying Iran is not 'satisfied' with the coalition.

The move comes nearly a month after Khawaja Asif said the government had decided ‘in principle’ to allow General Raheel to head the alliance. According to him, the government of Saudi Arabia had requested Pakistan for permission to acquire his services.

Raheel Sharif’s Saudi assignment has been a matter of controversy in and outside Pakistan. Opposition parties along with many People of the country have objected to Pakistan’s involvement in any military alliance fearing that it may flare up sectarian conflicts among Muslim states. Critics also believe that Pakistan need to pay more attention to its internal problems including terrorism.