LAHORE – While Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif is being appreciated by world powers for successful anti-terrorism operation in tribal areas of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia wants him to join its 34-country alliance as commander-in-chief after his retirement from Pakistan Army.
“Riyadh has asked General Raheel Sharif to take over the position of chief of the coalition force to combat terrorist organisations which are maligning Islamic ideology worldwide,” reported the Daily Jang, quoting unnamed military sources.
The report further added that Raheel Sharif’s appointment as the coalition force commander will not affect Pakistan’s natural position in Saudi-Iran tensions. “Pakistani role in 34-country military alliance will also remain unchanged.”
The Saudi offer comes in light of the general’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.
As far as Raheel Sharif’s retirement or extension in service as Pakistani Chief of Army Staff is concerned, a statement of the Pakistan army spokesman said that Raheel Sharif will retire on due date, dismissing the ongoing debate over possible extension in Army chief’s service.
Raheel Sharif took over the position of Chief of Army Staff in November 2013 and is due to retire in the end of this year.
General Raheel Sharif is currently in Saudi Arabia to witness 20-country joint military exercise “North Thunder” along with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The exercise is being portrayed as show of military power in international media after announcement of anti-terrorism alliance.
Earlier 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 34-country alliance which will have its control center in Riyadh according to the statement.