KARACHI: When Saudi Arabia requested Pakistan to be part of the 34 countries military alliance, the Pakistani government went into Parliament and all parties including the treasury benches rejected this wish of Saudi Arabia and it was decided Pakistan would be neutral in this coalition because it was calculated that it would have grave repercussions for the country. Some pundits believe the government has not been taken onboard for the appointment of Raheel Sharif and only the army has given him a no objection certificate for joining and leading the Saudi-led military coalition. Some people speculated that it was already decided by the government that after Raheel Sharif’s retirement, he will join new job and that’s why he was not given an extension despite severe demands by the people of Pakistan.
We do not know what the background of this appointment is, but it is not difficult to calculate the adverse effects of his appointment and it has also tarnished the name of such a successful army chief, who has been given great respect and a name in the country. Moreover, it is also a legal issue that for at least two years, no army officer can join any position abroad because the army chief has a lot of secrets in his chest, so it would also be unprecedented for Raheel Sharif to join such a position.
On one side, our retired generals who are now defence analysts oppose Raheel Sharif for accepting such a position. They say it will have serious repercussions for our country but the government has not taken any position. Defence Minister Khawaja Asif neither opposed it nor appreciated it, which has further confused the people. I hope our successful army chief will review his decision to accept such a controversial military alliance, which may lead to a bad name for the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 15th, 2017.