I have for the past few months been trying to figure out as to why there is such a hoo-ha being generated over the reported offer of a new job to the recently retired Chief of the Army Staff. The son of an old soldier, who honourably doffed his uniform as a major and brother of two valiant ‘sons of the soil’, one of whom suffered grave injury in the line of duty, while the other gave his life in the 1971 War, winning the coveted Nishan-e-Haider, this popular figure embodies everything that makes soldiering an enviable profession.

From a citizen’s perspective, what General (retired) Raheel Sharif does in his post retirement period is his own business as long as it doesn’t bring a bad name to Pakistan. Accepting the military command of the thirty nine nation coalition in the war against terror, can under no stretch of imagination, fall under the banner of an act that is detrimental to the good name of the state.

I also believe that anything that stirs up the hornet’s nest in the enemy camp must be good for us. The jacking up of adversarial propaganda against the Saudi offer from within and without, is an indication of disorder and concern (perhaps even fear) in the enemy ranks and it should make every patriotic Pakistani happy.

Viewed from another perspective, the need for a united Muslim World is now critical as never before. The Islamic bloc is riddled with dissent and apathy, which has made it the laughing stock of the international community. What it lacks is someone with the dynamism and guts to remove inter and intra state issues – someone with the resource management skills to orchestrate the unlimited power potential lying within collective borders.

Current developments have forced me to reread the ‘Clash of Civilisations’. I, like many others at one point in time, considered this narrative as ‘a red herring’. I now acknowledge that the book was perhaps written after careful deliberation and long term motives. As much as our minds refuse to see the writing on the wall, the ‘clash’ may have already begun and if it has, it requires the Muslim world to speak out from a position of economic and military strength so that it can be heard. If a tried and tested Pakistani can accomplish this task, then so be it.

The decision, when taken, will have a huge impact on the global strategic scene. It would therefore be unfair on my part to extoll the virtues of the offer and not point out the pitfalls. The most dangerous being, the possibility of the alliance being used to further individual state interests (particularly against one another) instead of the collective one. This ‘collective thinking’ will require a massive change in national psyches of member countries, many of whom have autocratic forms of governance. Autocracy develops mindsets, which will not only damage the alliance, but provide leverage to the enemy to discredit the whole concept. Another threat to the coalition will emerge from weak links, who in failing to derive strength that flows from unity, may succumb to vested pressures. All said and done, the need to unite the Muslim World will and should override all other considerations.

Those that waste their valuable time in criticising the alliance (with particular reference to its military aspects and command structure) tend to forget that Pakistan is already committed to its membership, since such a commitment is a geopolitical imperative. We must therefore make the most of the situation and derive maximum benefit from it. Let us not ignore the fact that what we are being offered is an opportunity to assume a leadership role in the coalition. Missing this window of opportunity will leave nothing, but lasting regret.