Geo News on Saturday quoted Defence Minister Khawaja Asif as saying that the government had given its green signal for retired Gen Raheel Sharif to proceed to take charge as head of a 39-nation military alliance of Muslim states.
The coalition was envisaged to serve as a platform for security cooperation, including a provision for training, equipment and troops, and involvement of religious scholars for dealing with extremism.
Asif was quoted as saying that the government had granted a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to the former Army chief and agreed “in principle” to the arrangement after receiving a written request from the Saudi government.
However, the minister said official documentation had not yet been completed in this regard.
“I believe that when Gen Raheel Sharif joins, he will define a structure [for the military alliance]”, Asif was quoted as saying.
The defence minister also reportedly said that an advisory board of defense ministers of member countries will meet in May to discuss the alliance’s future.
Asif had on Jan 11 told Senate that Sharif would be required to seek an NOC from the government prior to accepting a position as chief of the 39-nation Islamic military coalition.
“The rules laid down by the Ministry of Defence for post-retirement assignments of army officers will be applicable equally to Raheel Sharif,” Asif had said in the Senate session.
In the same session, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz had refused to speak on the issue “as no formal offer had been made by Saudi Arabia in this regard”.
The defence minister’s statement will be aired in full on Sunday evening at 10pm in a show aired by Geo News.