The right man for the right job?

Published: January 9, 2017

The invitation extended to Gen (retd) Raheel Sharif to take charge of the 39-nation military coalition led by Saudi Arabia is an interesting development. There is perhaps no other man more qualified to take this position, in view of the successes General (retd) Sharif has experienced following the launch of the Zarb-i-Azb operation. Pakistan is amongst the countries worst hit by terrorism and Gen Sharif made it his mission as Chief of Army Staff to rid the country of this scourge. Though there are still instances of deadly terrorist attacks, there is no doubt that without campaigns led by the general, the situation could have been far worse. However, despite his ample qualifications, Gen (retd) Sharif’s appointment to this post is significant for a number of political reasons. During his term in office, Pakistan had initially refused to extend support to Saudi Arabia in its battle against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, a move which led to a strained relationship between both countries. Consequently, in order to pacify Saudi Arabia, Gen Raheel travelled to the Kingdom a few times and eventually Pakistan agreed to join the Saudi-led military coalition.

The government, however, had clarified that the Saudi coalition was not meant to interfere in Syria or Yemen. As per Pakistan’s understanding of the matter, this military coalition is meant to fight Daish and its various iterations rather than becoming partisan in ongoing conflicts between various Middle Eastern nations. In view of the delicate situation in the Middle East, Gen Sharif’s decision to head this military coalition does raise some concerns with regards to Pakistan’s future role in the Middle East. Pakistan does not need to become embroiled in sectarian conflict which can have deadly repercussions at home. It will be interesting to see how Gen Sharif balances Pakistan’s policy on these issues and the immediate demands of the Saudi-led coalition force. Gen Sharif must now ensure that his new role does not conflict with Pakistan’s interests or tarnish the legacy he has established through a blemish-free record at home.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 9th, 2017.

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Reader Comments (7)

  • Sodomite
    Jan 9, 2017 - 4:20AM

    Good review. Should the coalition become sectarian, then what happens to Pakistan will make Middle East troubles a side show. .Recommend

  • Yul47 London
    Jan 9, 2017 - 8:58AM

    The Pakistanis will need to be convinced if the offer to head a United coalition was conveyed to the General during his term as the Army Chief or upon his retirement. It appeared during his latter part of his tenure he had lost interest in overseeing screening of organised crime in Punjab or for that matter to speedily push to seek conclusion of the matter of Dr Asim and others. He failed to uphold his promise that justice would be done when some 14 people were brutally butchered by the Police allegedly ordered by local government. His legacy would be viewed by historians as part success to bring relief for residents of Karachi Recommend

  • Arsalan
    Jan 9, 2017 - 11:43AM

    @Yul47 London:
    Pathetic Negativism…. lay off Indian…Recommend

  • Munir Akram
    Jan 9, 2017 - 1:13PM

    The editorial is just the opposite of the betrayal feeling of the Pakistani nation – it has definitely purposefully not mentioned lots of important questions. Time for me to change the paper once again. Even within army the move has not been taken positively – the notion of Pakistan army becoming a mercenary army will further be strengthened which is so disgusting for us citizens.Recommend

  • Tariq
    Jan 9, 2017 - 2:07PM

    regardless of political significance, we should not ignore Armed Forces rule that a retired COAS cannot join any office till completion of 2 years tenure after retirement.

    It is Opined that once again this country is going to set an other precedent. Recommend

  • RK Singh
    Jan 9, 2017 - 3:21PM

    He will soon realise it is not so easy fighting with people with “weapons”, unlike what he did in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Frank
    Jan 9, 2017 - 7:59PM


    What do you mean? The Shia community is less than 10% of Pakistan’s population.Recommend

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