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Iran Concerned by General Raheel Heading Islamic Military Alliance

Dawn newspaper quoted the envoy as saying, “But that does not indicate that Iran is satisfied with this decision or it has accepted the same,” adding that he also said that Pakistan had contacted Tehran before issuing the no-objection certificate (NOC) to the retired general to head the Saudi-led alliance. He stated that Tehran had informed Islamabad that Iran would not become part of such a military alliance, and that Iran had not been extended an offer to join a coalition of this sort. “…rather [than] forming a controversial military alliance,” he proposed that all important Islamic countries come together to form a “coalition of peace” in order to resolve their issues.

The newspaper reported that General Sharif, who last November retired as army chief, is likely to assume command this month of the anti-terrorism alliance, being dubbed the “Muslim Nato”.

 Retired Major General Ijaz Awan, a defence analyst and close associate of the former army chief, said that the Pakistan government issued an NOC for Sharif to join the alliance after an understanding was reached between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia on the matter.

The report said that General Sharif’s appointment as the leader of the military alliance sparked debate over how the move will impact Pakistan’s foreign policy, and whether it was fully sanctioned by parliament.

Without first getting its consent, Pakistan found itself in the midst of Middle Eastern politics, as Saudi Arabia named it as part of its newly formed military alliance of Muslim countries meant to combat terrorism. After its initial ambiguity, Islamabad 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 assembled coalition. 

Raheel’s appointment was criticised by some Pakistani politicians, retired army officers, journalists, and intellectuals, who question an ex-army chief joining a foreign military alliance after his retirement. 

The coalition was conceived as a platform for security cooperation, which would provide training, equipment, troops, and involvement of religious scholars for dealing with extremism. 

The report stated that  many countries were surprised by the Saudi government’s announcement that it had forged a coalition for coordinating and supporting military operations against terrorism in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan,

Iran was absent from the states named as participants, it added.