Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said on Friday that former army chief General (retd) Raheel Sharif has been issued a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to head the Saudi-led military alliance of 34 Muslim nations, Express News reported.
General Raheel left for Riyadh from Lahore this afternoon after a special plane arrived from the Saudi Kingdom to receive him this morning, sources told Express News.
Govt to allow Raheel Sharif to lead Saudi-led alliance
Talking to a private TV channel, Asif said that the NCO had been issued as per rules and regulations. The move comes nearly a month after Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said the government had decided ‘in principle’ to allow General (retd) Raheel to head the alliance. According to him, the government of Saudi Arabia had requested Pakistan for permission to acquire his services.
On March 25, Asif said the alliance has no structure as of yet and that Gen Raheel will adopt a framework once he arrives in the Kingdom.
In January this year, the minister kicked up controversy five days later when he told the Senate that the former army chief had not asked the government for clearance to lead the coalition. This had led to weeks of debate and speculation about whether the government would allow Gen Raheel to take up the position.
In 2015, Saudi Arabia had announced the formation of a 34-state Islamic military coalition to combat terrorism and Pakistan was made a member of the coalition. Riyadh and its Gulf Arab neighbours have been locked in months of warfare with Iran-allied rebels in neighbouring Yemen, launching hundreds of air strikes there.