Defence Minsiter Khawaja Asif said the decision to appoint former army chief General Raheel Sharif as head of the 39-nation coalition of Muslim countries is an administrative decision and is not linked to the conflict in Yemen.
The defence minister was speaking on Geo’s Aaj Shahzaib Khanzada Kay Sath.
Asif reiterated that the force is “purely against terrorism” and said, “The decision was taken after much deliberation and I will stand by it in the parliament”.
“They (Saudi Arabia) first wrote a letter to our government regarding the matter some six weeks ago, after which the government discussed the matter internally and sent a written agreement to the proposal after a week,” said Asif while explaining the timeline of the development.
The defence minister remained cryptic when asked what other nations will be contributing to the coalition and said the details of the coalition will only be revealed after a meeting is held in May.
Pakistan Tehreek-i- Insaf’s (PTI) Ali Muhammad Khan, speaking on Geo’s Capital Talk , said the government needs to discuss the appointment.
“I want to hear it from the horse’s mouth,” Khan said while on the show, adding that it is ‘strange’ that Raheel Sharif has remained silent on the topic since it first came to light.
“It is time that we know what this alliance is and on what basis was it formed,” Khan said.
PML-N’s Talal Chaudhary stated that no decision would be taken without the parliament’s consent.
“It will be up to the parliament to provide the former COAS a no-objection certificate (NOC) on the matter,” said Chaudhary.
“As for the the Parliamentary Resolution of 2015, it stated that Pakistan would play a neutral role in the Yemen conflict to ensure an early resolution, the government will stick to that stance and the alliance will be a force to fight against the militant Islamic State organisation and other terror outfits,” Chaudhary elaborated.
The headquarters of the military alliance would be based in Riyadh.
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 coalition was envisaged to serve as a platform for security cooperation, including provision of training, equipment and troops, and involvement of religious scholars for dealing with extremism.
The Saudi government had surprised many countries by announcing that it had forged a coalition for coordinating and supporting military operations against terrorism in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan.
Iran, Saudi Arabia’s archrival for influence in the Arab world, was absent from the states named as participants, as proxy conflicts between the two regional powers rage from Syria to Yemen.