In a video posted by Geo News on their website Saturday, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said that the government had given its green signal for retired Gen Raheel Sharif to take charge as head of a 39-nation military alliance of Muslim states.

In the video, Asif could be heard saying that the government had agreed "in principle" to the arrangement after receiving a written request from the Saudi government.

However, the minister said official procedures have not yet been completed in this regard.

The coalition was envisaged to serve as a platform for security cooperation, including a provision for training, equipment and troops, and involvement of religious scholars for dealing with extremism.

“I believe that when Gen Raheel Sharif joins, he will define a structure [for the alliance]", Asif further said.

The defence minister also said that an advisory council of defense ministers of member countries is expected to meet in May to discuss the alliance's future.

Asif had on Jan 11 told Senate that Sharif would be required to seek a no-objection certificate from the government prior to accepting a position as chief of the 39-nation Islamic military coalition.

"The rules laid down by the Ministry of Defence for post-retirement assignments of army officers will be applicable equally to Raheel Sharif," Asif had said in the Senate session.

In the same session, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz had refused to speak on the issue "as no formal offer had been made by Saudi Arabia in this regard".

The defence minister's statement will be aired in full on Sunday evening at 10pm in a show aired by Geo News.

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