COAS of Muslim-Ummah

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Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif has confirmed the recent development that former army chief General (retd) Raheel Sharif was made the chief of 39-nation Islamic military coalition formed to combat terrorism. Asif had admitted on a TV talk show that an agreement in this regard was finalised a few days back; however, the Defence Minister said he didn’t have much information at the moment about the details of the said agreement. Asif said that the decision to appoint Gen (retd) Raheel, who retired in November 2016, was taken after taking the incumbent government into confidence. The Defence Minister said that any such assignment or posting required proper clearance from the government and General Headquarters (GHQ) both and confirmed that the due process was followed before finalising the agreement.
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 the 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. There have been a lot of reservations of countries around the world towards the Saudi-led block to fight terrorism. Many had seen it as an attempt from Saudi Arabia to further its regional hegemony in the region when Iran was excluded from the 34-nation bloc. Both the countries have been involved in proxy wars to further their regional hegemony, with Yemen as well as Syria war being the prime examples. Pakistan had refused to become a part of the coalition fighting in Yemen, citing its neutrality in the issue. The war in Yemen is still continuing and leading the bloc means becoming a part of it. But now the opinions seem to have changed as the Defence Minister has appreciated the formation of such alliance, as the “Muslim Ummah is in a spot of bother right now and needs unity among its ranks.”