Pakistan

ISLAMABAD – Former Chief of Army Staff, General (r) Raheel Sharif is expected to be appointed defence advisor of Saudi Arabia-led military alliance of 39 Muslim countries to fight terrorism, a Pakistani daily reported on Thursday.

Raheel Sharif, who recently retired as Pakistan’s Army Chief, has arrived in Saudi Arabia as a royal guest in a special plane.

A grand reception has been hosted in his honour in Riyadh, the capital of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It will also be attended by the members of Saudi Royal family.

The Joint Command Centre, headquarters of the military alliance is located in Riyadh. The coalition was formed by the efforts of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef.

“The alliance is formed to fight Daesh and other militant outfits. At the time of its constitution, there were 34 countries in the alliance which have raised to 39”, according to Saudi Arabia.

In 2015, Saudi Arabia had announced Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Turkey, Chad, Togo, Tunisia, Djibouti, Senegal, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Gabon, Guinea, Palestine, Comoros, Qatar, Cote d’Ivoire, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Maldives, Mali, Malaysia, Egypt, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Yemen as part of a 39-country alliance which will have its control center in Riyadh.

There are also reports that Oman has also has joined the Saudi-led coalition of Muslim countries.

“The sultanate indicated its willingness to take part in the alliance in a letter to Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman”, The News reported while quoting sources.

The Saudi offer comes in light of the Raheel’s increasing popularity in Pakistan and the west due to successful military operation Zarb-e-Azb, which improved law and order situation in Pakistan to a great extent.

However, earlier, it was speculated that Saudi Arabia wanted General Raheel to join its 39-country alliance as commander-in-chief after his retirement from Pakistan Army.