The appointment of former army chief retired Gen Raheel Sharif as the leader of a 39-country Saudi military alliance has sparked debate over how the move will impact Pakistan’s foreign policy, and whether it was fully sanctioned by parliament.
Reports of the appointment and Gen (r) Raheel’s subsequent reticence regarding the development have given political rivals and pundits an opportunity to weigh in the transparency and importance of such a move.
PTI questions appointment
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) MNA Shireen Mazari responded to reports of the appointment by tweeting, “This [joining the alliance] will add to sectarian polarisation within Pakistan as well as greater regional instability. Parliament’s approval should have been sought.
“I want to hear it from the horse’s mouth,” Khan said on Geo’s Capital Talk, adding that it is ‘strange’ that Raheel Sharif has remained silent on the topic since it first came to light.
“It is time that we know what this alliance is and on what basis was it formed,” Khan said.
The PTI has said that it would raise the matter of the former army chief’s appointment in parliament.
ANP smells a conspiracy
Awami National Party Vice President Bushra Gohar called for the Terms of Agreement for the appointment to be made public. “Why was parliament kept in [the] dark?” she asked. “Was it part of recent political wheelings and dealings?”
Govt in two minds
Federal Minister for States and Frontier Regions (Safron) Lt Gen (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch in an appearance on DawnNews show Doosra Rukh said he believed the former army chief would “become controversial” if he led the Saudi military alliance.
“I feel it might lessen the respect he has earned,” Baloch said, adding that the appointment as head of the alliance will not have the same chances of success as in the Pakistan Army as it will be a “hop scotch alliance and we do not know what the system will be”.
However, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif remained diplomatic, and said the government is ready to issue him a No Objection Certificate (NoC). The Foreign Office, too, believes Sharif’s appointment will not compromise Pakistan’s long-standing policy of neutrality in Middle Eastern affairs.
“Personal resolutions dominate, parliamentary resolution made a joke.”
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Spokesman Musaddiq Malik on a programme on Aaj TV Faisla Aap Ka also claimed the decision on the alliance was made in line with parliament’s decision regarding the matter earlier.
PML-N’s Talal Chaudhary earlier stated that no decision would be taken without the parliament’s consent.
“As for the the Parliamentary Resolution of 2015, it stated that Pakistan would play a neutral role in the Yemen conflict to ensure an early resolution, the government will stick to that stance and the alliance will be a force to fight against the militant Islamic State organisation and other terror outfits,” Chaudhary elaborated.