The appointment of former army chief retired Gen Raheel Sharif as the leader of a 39-country Saudi military alliance has sparked debate over how the move will impact Pakistan's foreign policy, and whether it was fully sanctioned by parliament.

Reports of the appointment and Gen (r) Raheel's subsequent reticence regarding the development have given political rivals and pundits an opportunity to weigh in the transparency and importance of such a move.

Read more: Raheel Sharif’s reticence

PTI questions appointment

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) MNA Shireen Mazari responded to reports of the appointment by tweeting, "This [joining the alliance] will add to sectarian polarisation within Pakistan as well as greater regional instability. Parliament's approval should have been sought."

Read more: Joining military alliance won’t hit Pakistan’s neutrality: FO

PTI's Ali Muhammad Khan shared a similar view.

"I want to hear it from the horse's mouth," Khan said on Geo's Capital Talk, adding that it is 'strange' that Raheel Sharif has remained silent on the topic since it first came to light.

"It is time that we know what this alliance is and on what basis was it formed," Khan said.

The PTI has said that it would raise the matter of the former army chief's appointment in parliament.

Know more: PTI opposes NOC for Raheel to head Saudi-led military alliance

Janjua welcomes decision

Ex-military man and current National Security Adviser Nasser Janjua believes the appointment of retired Gen Sharif as the head of the military alliance would be a 'welcome step' for the Muslim world.

"He [Raheel Sharif] will become a reason for the unity of Muslim Ummah," he said.

"Gen Raheel Sharif will use his experiences and knowledge to remove internal misunderstandings among Muslim countries," Janjua added, saying that the former army chief's appointment would even benefit "anti-alliance countries, including Iran".

Read more: Raheel Sharif leading Saudi alliance will bring unity to Muslim world: Nasser Janjua

ANP smells a conspiracy

Awami National Party Vice President Bushra Gohar called for the Terms of Agreement for the appointment to be made public. "Why was parliament kept in [the] dark?" she asked. "Was it part of recent political wheelings and dealings?"

Govt in two minds

Federal Minister for States and Frontier Regions (Safron) Lt Gen (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch in an appearance on DawnNews show Doosra Rukh said he believed the former army chief would "become controversial" if he led the Saudi military alliance.

"I feel it might lessen the respect he has earned," Baloch said, adding that the appointment as head of the alliance will not have the same chances of success as in the Pakistan Army as it will be a "hop scotch alliance and we do not know what the system will be".

However, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif remained diplomatic, and said the government is ready to issue him a No Objection Certificate (NoC). The Foreign Office, too, believes Sharif's appointment will not compromise Pakistan's long-standing policy of neutrality in Middle Eastern affairs.

Explore: Raheel Sharif will become controversial if he leads military alliance: Abdul Qadir Baloch

"Personal resolutions dominate, parliamentary resolution made a joke."

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Spokesman Musaddiq Malik on a programme on Aaj TV Faisla Aap Ka also claimed the decision on the alliance was made in line with parliament's decision regarding the matter earlier.

PML-N's Talal Chaudhary earlier stated that no decision would be taken without the parliament's consent.

Read more: Raheel Sharif's appointment as coalition chief an administrative decision, says Khawaja Asif

"It will be up to the parliament to provide the former chief of army staff a no-objection certificate (NOC) on the matter," said Chaudhary.

"As for the the Parliamentary Resolution of 2015, it stated that Pakistan would play a neutral role in the Yemen conflict to ensure an early resolution, the government will stick to that stance and the alliance will be a force to fight against the militant Islamic State organisation and other terror outfits," Chaudhary elaborated.

Opinion

Window of opportunity
05 Mar 2021

Window of opportunity

How do we ensure growth revival built on a sustainable, efficient and stable foundation?
March for freedom
Updated 05 Mar 2021

March for freedom

Those demanding ‘azadi’ are moving society forward.
More of the same
Updated 04 Mar 2021

More of the same

Civil society groups and political parties tend to treat their paid employees as casual labour.

Editorial

Ravi project
Updated 05 Mar 2021

Ravi project

THE assault by an enraged group of farmers on a provincial revenue team assigned to acquire land for the...
05 Mar 2021

Climate change

PAKISTAN received much less rainfall in January 2021 as compared to previous years, making it the 17th driest month...
05 Mar 2021

Antimicrobial resistance

WITH the focus on Covid-19, many health issues, though otherwise recognised as serious medical problems, tend to be...
04 Mar 2021

Senate upset

THE Senate election results have delivered a stunning blow to the PTI. While the ruling party has seen an increase ...
ME ‘security pact’
Updated 04 Mar 2021

ME ‘security pact’

THERE has been an overflowing of bonhomie between the Gulf Arabs and Israel over the past few months, much of it...
04 Mar 2021

Students’ protest

A GROUP of university students in Karachi and Hyderabad caught the media’s attention when they announced a...