Lawmakers question Raheel Sharif’s role in Saudi military alliance

Senators on Tuesday raised questions over the role of former army chief Raheel Sharif in the Saudi military alliance after they were told that the coalition has yet to take formal shape.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, speaking on the matter, had told the Senate that the ToRs governing the operations of the Islamic military alliance had not been finalised as yet.

“There must be a meeting between member nations in order for the ToRs to be finalised, which has not been possible,” he said while assuring that parliament would be briefed regarding the ToRs as soon as they took shape.

However, lawmakers responded to his statement by questioning why the former army chief had been sent to Saudi Arabia if the ToRs were still unclear, with Chairman Senate Raza Rabbani questioning why Sharif was in Saudi Arabia if he was not yet leading any army.

Rabbani further asked how the government had deemed it okay to send a former army chief — who has knowledge of the country’s nuclear secrets — to a sensitive area without even knowing what he would be doing there.

“What if the ToRs are not in the interest of Pakistan’s national security? What will you do then? You have already sent Raheel Sharif to Saudi Arabia,” he said.

Senator Farhatullah Babar asked why Raheel Sharif had announced 10 months prior to his retirement that he would not be looking for an extension in his tenure as army chief.

“What was the purpose of making the announcement so far in advance,” he asked, “particularly if no offers had been made to him at that point?”

Babar asked whether Sharif wished to signal his availability post-retirement to Saudi Arabia and whether the announcement was made for the benefit of the Saudi leadership.

The senator called for an investigation into the matter.

Senator Ilyas Bilour said Pakistani lawmakers would not allow there to be any sectarian conflict in the country while asserting that ToRs against Iran would not be acceptable.

“The country will be destroyed if there is sectarian conflict,” he warned.

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