Pakistan

ISLAMABAD – Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, who earlier announced that Pakistani government has formally permitted former chief of army staff General (retd) Raheel Sharif to lead Islamic military alliance, revealed another point regarding his appointment which raises a question mark on the entire matter.

Talking to a news channel 92 on Thursday, he said that government has not issued any No Objection Certificate (NOC) so far to the former army chief, adding that only principal decision has been made in this regard as formal procedures are remaining.

He said that Saudi government had sought Sharif’s services for which consent has been granted. It is undecided that when Raheel Sharif will go to Saudi Arabia to assume charge, Asif said.

On March 25, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif had said that Pakistan government has formally permitted ex-army chief Gen Raheel Sharif to lead Saudi military alliance to fight militancy. The minster revealed this during an interview with Geo TV channel’s programme Jirga.

Interestingly on April 3, Ambassador of Iran to Pakistan had expressed reservations over the issuance of “NOC” by the Pakistani government for appointing the former army chief.

Mehdi Honardoost said, “It was correct that Pakistan had contacted Iranian officials before issuing the NOC, but it did not indicate that Iran was satisfied with this decision or it had accepted the same,” stated a press release issued by the Iran`s official news outlet, Islamic Republic News Agency

The former army chief’s Saudi assignment to lead Islamic Military Alliance has been a matter of controversy in the media.

This coalition force was formed by Saudi Arabia’s Defence Minister Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud on December 15, 2015.

Talking about ties with Afghanistan, the defence minister said that Pakistan wanted better relations with neighbouring countries but India is a great hurdle on this way. Cross-border terrorism could be eliminated only by joint efforts of the both countries.

The internal problem of Afghanistan is so complicated that 16 countries which are there for 16 years, could not resolve it, he added.

He highlighted that Pakistan has taken control of every area by sacrificing precious lives of soldiers and public, adding, “We are determined to weed out the menace of terrorism completely”.

Pakistan has deployed around 200,000 troops, a strength which has not been appointed by any country, to tackle the terrorists, Asif said.

Highlighting the Kashmir issue, he added that peace cannot be restored in the region without resolving the issue of Kashmir as it has basic importance for the country’s foreign policy.