ISLAMABAD Former Chief of Army Staff General (retd) Raheel Sharif departed for Riyadh on Friday after being granted permission to head a military alliance of Muslim countries by the federal government.
According to media reports, while speaking to media, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif confirmed that the federal government had given Sharif No Objection Certificate after completion of all legal formalities and requirements.
Asif said that Raheel Sharif was given the NOC after approval from the Pakistan Army's General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi.
The defence minister had said earlier that Pakistan had received a written request from the Saudi government for employing Raheel Sharif as head of the military alliance.
A special aircraft from Riyadh had arrived in Lahore to receive Raheel Sharif. Sharif was accompanied by his wife and mother on the flight.
The coalition includes Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Tunisia, Sudan, Malaysia, Egypt, Yemen and other Muslim countries, with its Joint Command Centre headquartered in Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia says the alliance, which noticeably lacks the presence of Iran, will "coordinate and support military operations to fight terrorism".
Last month, Pakistan's National Security Advisor (NSA) Nasir Janjua said that Gen (r) Raheel Sharif’s role as head of the coalition would bring unity to the Muslim world.
The national security adviser had said that the structure of the alliance had not been decided so far and that in May, the advisory board of defence ministers of member countries would attend a meeting held in this regard.
Janjua informed media that upon joining the alliance, General Raheel Sharif would define the structure of the coalition.