Islamabad: News about General Raheel Sharif poised to head a Saudi-led military alliance to combat terror has sparked a debate in Pakistan with the Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani asking if the retired army chief had sought the government's permission, according to a media report today.
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said last Friday that the former army chief will head the Saudi Arabia-led 39-nation Islamic military coalition formed to combat terrorism.
Senate Chairman Rabbani yesterday asked the government whether former army chief Gen Raheel Sharif had sought permission from the federal government or taken it into confidence over his reported appointment as commander of the 39-nation Saudi-led military alliance, Dawn newspaper reported.
Asking Defence Minister Asif to keep in mind the rules for a retired officer seeking an appointment, he asked whether "a no objection certificate was issued and the federal government was taken into confidence?"
"I heard your statement on TV and you were not clear yourself," Rabbani said, adding that a contradictory statement from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's aide Dr Musaddiq Malik had made the matter even more ambiguous.
Rabbani has also asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to clarify what would be the implications of the decision in terms of foreign policy and its effect on a decision, taken at the joint sitting of parliament, not to become part of any such alliance.
There has so far been no official confirmation of the fact that Gen Sharif will assume command of the alliance, the report said.
Interestingly, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar yesterday indicated the government is unaware of the general's reported decision.
In a Samaa TV programme, Dar expressed ignorance about the Saudi offer to Gen Sharif. He, however, felt certain that Gen Sharif would consult the government and fulfill legal and constitutional requirements before taking any decision on leading the military coalition.