Former army chief General (retired) Raheel Sharif has been made the chief Islamic military coalition to combat terrorism, Minister for Defence Khawaja Asif confirmed on Friday. 

The minister confirmed the development during a talk show, and said that an agreement was finalised few days back in this regard. However, he denied having much information about the details of the agreement at the moment.

Khawaja Asif said that the decision was taken after taking the incumbent government into confidence and “it was finalised here first”.

The defence minister further said that such assignments or postings require proper clearance both from the government and General Headquarters (GHQ) and confirmed that the due process was followed before finalising the agreement.

“As you are aware that this thing was in the pipeline for quite some time and the prime minister was also part of the deliberations,” said Asif. “Muslim Ummah is in a spot of bother right now and needs unity among its ranks.” 

The Riyadh-based Islamic military coalition was announced by Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman last year. A long list of Arab countries such as Egypt, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, together with Islamic countries Turkey, Malaysia, Pakistan and Gulf Arab and African states were mentioned.

Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said he was surprised to know about Pakistan's inclusion in the alliance. The Foreign Office, however, welcomed the Saudi announcement and pledged Pakistan's full support to the 39-nation Islamic military alliance.